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Interview with Anastasiia Brener, Head of Business Development of Ikajo

Anastasiia Brener is Head of Business Development of Ikajo International, global payment service provider. Ikajo provides payment solutions for business owners from a variety of industries ranging from iGaming to online dating and Forex.

Please introduce your brand, its advantages and tell us something about the team behind the brand.

Ikajo International is not just a fintech company, we are a family. It’s an amazing team of like-minded people who are experts in finance, banking, and business development. What’s our main advantage? Well, it’s making the lives of business owners easier. We help them forget about payment processing hardships thanks to a wide range of tested payment options, easy to use platform and back-office. We are always searching for new connections to offer more state-of-the-art solutions to cover more industries.

What is your current role and what are your biggest challenges? Can you tell us something more about your background?

I am responsible for Business Development at Ikajo, and that is very challenging but fulfilling. I have my Bachelor degree in International Economic Relations and a Masters in Business Administration. I was taught how to determine trends and use changes in the economy as opportunities for business improvement and development. However, I came into this industry by chance, I stayed because it captured my heart.

Tell us about your achievements in 2019 and how 2020 started for you.

2019 was definitely a good year for Ikajo International. We’ve started processing 5 new industries including CBD, crypto exchangers, etc. We’ve partnered with 10 new acquiring banks expanded the range of alternative payment methods to those popular in Latin America and Asia. Besides, we attended 10 conferences and significantly accelerated and simplified onboarding process and integration for our customers.

We did our best to start in 2020 as powerful as possible. I think the biggest challenge was to get our new updated payment gateway live, find our first white-label customer, improve our internal business process.

Which markets do you focus on (online casino, online sports betting, etc.) and do you see potential in the emerging markets?

The world is modifying so fast, trends keep changing constantly, so here at Ikajo, we believe in progress and strategic planning. Moreover, it’s important to note that our gambling merchants, given an online nature of their businesses, want to cater to clients from all over the world.

That’s why we aim to cover all the major markets, too. For a couple of years already Latin America attracts business with its active customer audience, Asia stays an alluring market, South Africa and Africa are strengthening their position in with more and more active users of online business, Australia captivates extra attention lately and Europe will always be classic. So, our main aim is to cover all lucrative for our merchants regions and help them grow their business in countries they are targeting.

Tell us something more about the integration process and how you manage it?

First and foremost, we set a goal to simplify the onboarding and integration processes for our clients as much as possible. For that, we are offering API, HPP, iFrame, and different plugins. Moreover, we are always ready to help support the team. From the beginning and till the website goes live and after, we do our best to assist our clients with any questions and issues.

What do you think will be the next step for the payment industry?

I think that contactless payments are on the rise these days since this payment method is less prone to spreading COVID-19. Besides, with all the lockdowns, businesses now shift online, and merchants have to adopt numerous online payment methods as well as be able to provide in-app payments. In gambling, I believe cards will still dominate even though cryptocurrencies are taking up a significant market share.

Are you concerned about the impact of shifting regulatory environments? How do you see the new regulations discussions, the rise of crypto on specific markets, the limitations for you to pay more and more attention to KYC and AML?

Attention to compliance with regulatory demands has grown exponentially in the recent decade. It is a common assumption that the target group will be aware of and understand how to comply with a new rule when it is published. However, the rapid increase in the complexity and volume of new regulations, different approaches among states (especially in respect of cryptocurrencies) has made this basic assumption quite unrealistic. In turn, Ikajo is using various regulatory monitoring tools and leading industry software to make sure that it stays ahead and is prepared for daily challenges. I think that the key to a quick response to market development and regulatory requirements is a constant adaptation. Besides, I’d like to highlight truly effective compliance policies as another vital factor.

What’s your plan for 2020, considering the global situation, events canceled and postponed? Tell us how do you feel the effects on your business already, if any?

Sure thing, we weren’t expecting the pandemic to take over the world and put the life as we knew it on pause. However, we still feel quite optimistic about our business during these times.

First of all, we help online merchants process their online payments. And as businesses move online, they require or services.

Second of all, thanks to technological advances, some of the conferences we were going to participate in are going to be held online as well. And thus, we’re going to be an Information Sponsor on the upcoming iGaming Conference in London (it’s held online). Also, during these tough times, we do our best to stay positive and maintain the high level of services and support we are providing to our merchants. We are making the onboarding process easier, integration faster, and offering tips on how to help our merchants survive and stay profitable during this period.

Are you contemplating on bringing in investors to scale, bring further innovation or grow your business?

We believe that constant work on improvement of ourselves, our services and our business is our way to success. By bringing innovations, making our product better and more useful for our customers, upgrading our payment gateway, white-labeling our platform Akurateco we hope to make the life of our merchants and partners easier and more successful.

Are you planning to attend some of the biggest conferences when the situation is back to normal, hopefully till fall? Which one you target, if so.

Ikajo is fond of events and expos, they bring our industry closer together and help us become better. So we are trying not to miss any interesting event, however this year it won’t be as easy as usual. We all hope that our world will heal itself soon and we all get back to our lives, so we keep our favorite events in our calendar and looking forward to attending them. We keep our fingers crossed and hope to meet our partners, friends, colleagues, and newcomers during AIBC Summit, Sigma, and are looking forward to GDI London Dating Conference 2020, Betting on Sports Europe, Casinobeats Malta 2020, and ICE Europe 2021.

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