Most businesses use electronic payments and online services for financial transactions, from small retail stores to large banks. Ilya Bezrukov, Managing Director at TEKO, explained how the idea originated to create a distributed processing platform for cash and non-cash payments, what services the company offers and how it develops its project.
Ilya Bezrukov began working in the banking sector in 2005. The young man was most interested in financial and legal models and their legislative regulation. He also closely followed computer and internet technologies, as he saw great potential in them. After four years at a large bank, Bezrukov launched several online stores of his own. At the same time, he carefully studied foreign markets – American, European, and Asian ones. Later he received a job offer from a mobile payment system. His accumulated experience complemented his financial education; this secured him an expertise in developing IT-products such as financial solutions for banks and mobile operators.
In 2012, Bezrukov launched his first project – the PlatBox payment aggregator. The company’s main focus was the expansion of payment methods for large websites and services, including MTS, Odnoklassniki, VKontakte and others. In 2014, he received a cooperation offer from Sergei Velts, who had worked for a long time at Sbertech and taught at the Bauman University. The two established a company based on Velts’s project “Machine learning and AI-based fraud monitoring system”. The new company, Cybertonica, was registered and headquartered in London. Velts had some experience with large databases, which helped him win information security contests in Russia and England. The company also received a grant from the Skolkovo Innovation Center and officially became its resident.
Yet, this was not enough for them. Bezrukov wanted not only to develop and sell IT products, but to use them in his own business and create a convenient and easy-to-use platform. So he decided to take the best features of banking software, e-commerce and information security solutions and combine them.
Bezrukov had a clear vision of his new project. The company’s product will be consolidated into one line and the platform will be able to tackle all major tasks for customers. The service was supposed to be simple, cheap and convenient. Moreover, it was important to ensure security of financial transactions and high processing speed. This is how in 2014 TEKO came about. The mission was right there in the name: Tune Ecommerce Key Opportunities.
Two more of Ilya’s friends joined the project. Yevgeny Kananovich took the job of a technical director and Dmitry Kamagin, graduate and lecturer at the Bauman University, was responsible for innovation. Thanks to collective efforts, TEKO became a pioneer in de-centralized blockchain-based processing and a Skolkovo resident.
The young people were not rookies in the IT industry. At the start of the project, they pitched in the money earned from previous projects. The returns were invested in further business development. Over two years, more than $1 mio was spent on the making of the company. The project creators mostly tried to do with their own money without attracting third-party investment. The latter would mean losing a share in the business while they wanted to preserve TEKO’s original structure. The company managed to float on its own resources until the payback time although Ilya admits it was hard at times.
Today TEKO is an international company developing IT products for lending organizations, banks and insurance companies in Russia and Europe. It targets three tracks, including retail, e-commerce and software development for large clients. Thanks to integrating three major areas, customers can benefit from all necessary services packed together. To achieve that, the company uses OpenOne, a patented technology for accepting cash and cashless payments based on a de-centralized platform. The platform allowed replacing conventional processing with the blockchain technology, or distributing registries based on a chain of blocks.
TEKO provides a full-cycle platform that includes software for retail business management, monetization tools, credit and insurance broker, and a system of interaction with the client company staff and third parties. All of TEKO’s products deal with the current issues of e-commerce, from project monetization and electronic interaction with regulatory bodies to automated revision and creation of a customer profile.
TEKO’s products work as Lego kits: clients can open a new point of sale and add any service required at any moment. All services are available in the customer’s account.
The creators of TEKO put a lot of time into the development of new services. For instance, a package of financial services for banks now has an electronic queue and a user account system. TEKO currently serves as a processing center for over 10 banks and provides services to over 100 companies.
Two years after the creation of TEKO, the team won two major tenders in a row. The first one was from DeltaCredit Bank and Societe Generale to develop and implement new products. The second tender was organized by TsNS (Sberbank Real Estate Center) to create a platform and launch Sberbank’s service Domclick. TEKO’s status of a Skolkovo resident company played an important role in winning the tender.
For retail clients, TEKO has developed the Box Retail package that allows for customizing remote points of sale. The package includes sales of any services and goods, including financial ones, client registration, a loyalty program and remote control over the sales point. Tele2 was the first company to take advantage of the new product: it uses BoxRetail for sales monitoring in its franchise outlets. The Unistream money transfer system took interest in the automated cashier module.
Team and promotion
TEKO currently employs over 50 people; most of them are software and product developers and have experience in creating high load systems and processing of large databases. The team also focuses on tech support and implementation services that create an impression for the clients and maintain their loyalty.
The experience in cooperating with outsource developers was unsatisfactory; all products and services are developed by the team and then patents are obtained for them.
The company solutions are promoted at themed exhibitions and conferences. Particular attention is paid to the events organized by the Skolkovo innovations center. In addition, TEKO representatives take part in various working groups of the regulators.
Thinking one step ahead
Bezrukov says he makes attempts to foresee changes and solve clients’ problems before they become aware of them. TEKO was Russia’s first company to implement the blockchain technology to create a comprehensive payment aggregator. TEKO started developing cloud solutions for the retail and online sale sector back when few showed interest in such product. As a result, when shady payments and sale transactions without the use of cash registers were banned following legislative changes, TEKO had ready-made offers for remote sale points, which took account of specific aspects of the retail business and online sales.
In 2019, TEKO started differentiating its activities. Today, several companies are operating on the basis of one platform which specialize in different market segments, such as the TEKO Payments company created under the Fast2pay brand to work on online services monetization. This is a payment aggregator that operates on the same principle as Yandex.Checkout (kassa.yandex.ru) or Robokassa.
The parent company continues to develop and create information products. According to Bezrukov, a priority task for 2019 is creating the company’s own ecosystem for the hotel industry and online shops. Clients will not have to choose services and compare prices as they will receive a single package that will include everything required for logistics, monetization, fiscal data operator, financial accounts and e-document management, and will have a digital signature.
Plans include adapting the BoxRetail product to the banking sector. Banks will be able to actively attract and register clients, while a cashier – just similar to any other retailer – will be able to work from any location.
In addition, the company plans to expand its business in Europe. Bezrukov chose Spain and Ireland, with the former actively developing this area and the latter being a leader in the IT cluster in Europe today. Receiving an MBA degree in Barcelona allows Ilya to stay at the center of events.
By Christina Firsova