by Susan Wright
Most people do not consider the innovative software that lies behind simple currency conversion activities. Banks, Money Service Businesses, and currency exchange kiosks (among others) require this software to efficiently provide currency exchange services to customers, as well as manage vasts amount of data. One of the companies developing this software is Clear View Systems, a smaller company dedicated to outpacing others in the industry.
I was able to sit down with Clear Views Systems President and CTO Tiran Behrouz to discuss how the company was launched and the unique qualities CVS products bring to the industry.
Tell us about yourself first. What is your management style? Where did you go to school and work in the past?
I learned the skill of software development in my early teens from my father. I wrote simple games on my first computer, the infamous British-made ZX Spectrum 16K in 1983; I was 13. In the same year, I was hired as a software instructor for the BASIC language in a private school.
I am a software architect and my passion is designing and developing financial applications. In the last 10 years with Clear View Systems Ltd., my work has been focused on developing business solutions for Money Service Businesses (MSB). I have always been interested in developing business applications. Before joining CVS, I was involved in developing accounting systems, stock portfolio management and hedge fund systems.
CVS is a small firm with the mandate to develop software solutions to empower the currency exchange industry. I joined the company in 2003 and became the president and CTO in 2008. I tend to look at the company’s management style as flat. We are all decision makers and I believe this style of management works better for smaller firms like us. One of the unique characters of our company is that everyone works from their home.
Tell us how your company started and when. Who was involved and what did each person do?
The company was incorporated on April 17, 2003.
The idea came to a friend of mine, Ehsan Malaki, during a money exchange transaction. He was doing a simple foreign exchange transaction at a Salamat Financials in North Vancouver and he realized that the transaction was taking over 15 minutes. Ehsan had a bachelors degree in hardware and knew very well how automated systems work. So he came to me and asked if I could develop a prototype system for money exchange that he could present to Salamat Financials.
The idea of developing a niche product specializing in money exchange appealed to me, so I said yes and jumped on board Clear View Systems. I had one condition for this project and that was picking my own preferred tool for development (4th Dimension), which Ehsan didn’t have a problem with as long as I could deliver on time. I took on the challenge and created a prototype based on a detailed business analysis done by Ehsan himself.
After a few weeks, we were able to put together a quick prototype. The first version of the product was installed after six months of development.
Tell us an interesting story about your business. Were there any “wow” moments? Anything funny or unusual?
We’ve had several “wow” moments throughout the company’s history.
The first was our experience with Desjardins Bank. Banks don’t ever purchase systems from small companies. We were approached many times by large international banks, but we never qualified to enter the bid due to the size of our company. However, when Desjardins Bank approached us, they only asked to see a product demo and made their buying decision solely based on the features of our software. We were really proud to have been selected as the exchange solution of choice by Desjardins, especially knowing that they considered much larger systems, such as Backbase. The news made it to Yahoo and made us all very proud.
Next, in 2012, when NCR decided to bid on a tender by the Changi Airport Group (CAG) to automate all airport shops, they picked Clear View Systems as their partner of choice providing Money Exchange Software. NCR carefully examined many of our competitors’ solutions before they picked CurrencyXchanger. This was one of the biggest moments for a small company like us, as NCR is technically the largest and oldest provider of POS systems worldwide. Although, NCR did not eventually win the project, we were proud to present our solution to CAG and receive very positive feedback from both NCR and CAG for the power and flexibility that CurrencyXchanger offers.
We’ve also received positive feedback in customer audits. Our customer get frequently audited by the government for Anti-Money-Laundering (AML) compliance or Tax Audits. On most occasions, we are asked by our customers to take part in the audits. This is usually to give our customers the peace of mind that the audit process goes as smoothly as possible. On one occasion, we had a senior auditor from the Texas department of banking tell us that in 25 years of his career, he had never seen a more complete and beautiful system as CurrencyXchanger. Needless to say that our customer was very pleased
Another time, a customer was being audited by Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) and the auditor mentioned that she had a technical background and had never seen a multi-currency accounting system like CurrencyXchanger. She congratulated our customer for picking our system and also congratulated us for developing it. This is was probably the best compliment we have ever received.
What does your company sell and how does it make money?
We research, develop and sell software solution that facilitate Currency Exchange. Our flagship product is CurrencyXchanger (CXR). CXR is available in three different editions:
• CurrencyXchanger POS
• CurrencyXchanger BE (Business Edition)
• CurrencyXchanger Pro (Pro Edition)
All of the above editions can be installed on a stand alone computer or on a network (client/server). Our software can run on Mac OS or Windows or a heterogeneous network with a mix of Mac and PC computers.
We make money by selling our products and service, subscriptions (renting monthly or annually), and Service Level Agreements (SLAs).
Our typical customers are:
• Money Services Bureaus (MSB)
• Wholesalers and traders of foreign currencies
• Financial Institutions (Banks, Credit Unions,etc…)
• Airport Foreign exchange kiosk
• Travel Agencies
• Hotels and Motels
• Stores in touristic areas
Which companies do you consider to be competitors?
Some of our competitors are PCFX by EJ Wang & Associates, Office Exchange by CGI Design, Yoda Forex by Yodatech, IMX by IMX Software, DCS Merchant & Pro by DCS, e2eFX by 2e2FX Corp., and CEIFX by Currency Exchange International.
What makes your products and services better than competitors’ offerings?
Some of the features that distinguishes CurrencyXchanger are:
• A fun, colorful and innovative user interface that make the system a joy to work every day
• True double-entry accounting with multi-currency journal, sub ledger, and general ledger
• Accuracy in calculating the Profit & Loss statement based on tw0 internationally accepted methods
• Multi-branch capability
• Highly Scalable even in locations where internet is slow or not reliable
• Client/Server system were the data is hosted at the customer’s location
• All data resides on the local server so the system can operate without internet
• Customizable Report Generator allowing customers to create reports that are not available in the system
• Highest customer satisfaction rating of any competitor on Capterra (4.5 stars)
• 10 years of excellent track record with customers and 99% customer retention
• Our product is built on a reliable and powerful database platform
• Customizable Anti-Money-Laundering (AML) Rule Declaration module
How big is the company in terms of its workforce?
We are a small company and everyone on the team works from the comfort of their home. We like to keep the company lean and keep the unnecessary costs low. Our team includes:
• Tiran Behrouz: 4D Developer; System Architect; R&D; Designs
• Barclay Berry: 4D Developer; R&D
• Shaun Fallahi: .NET Developer; R&D; Integration architect
• Houman Tag: Independent CXR System’s consultant
• Andrea Lafleche: Administration; Support
• Jeni Membreve: Online Support
What are the biggest growth catalysts for you right now? Tell us about any patents or other IP.
We like to stay ahead of the game by innovating and developing state of the art software. We also keep our focus on Money Exchange Solutions. For three years in a row, CVS has received research grant (SRED) from the government of Canada. This is due to the fact that we are not just a software development firm, but we keep doing R&D to keep our product cutting-edge and innovative.
We listen to customer feedback when it comes to adding new features or cutting unnecessary clutter in the software. We keep the system simple yet powerful and flexible enough to handle any complicated scenarios.
We don’t believe in Software Patents as they are controversial, difficult and costly to register, and even costlier to defend. We stay ahead of the curve by innovating and leaving our competitors in the dust.
Have you faced any regulatory hurdles, or anticipate any in the future? Explain.
Due to the ever increasing AML Regulations, banks have become extremely selective and cautious about their customers, especially Money Service Businesses (MSBs). Most banks will not take any MSB as a new client. This has made it extremely difficult for MSB operators to have a normal business account. As a result, many MSBs decide to close business or simply operate under the table. This has been an ever increasing risk to our business. However, as much as the regulatory hurdles are a risk, they are also a major reason that our product is successful among MSBs that stay in the business.
List out the formal title of all awards your company won and the year you won them.
• We have been nominated by BC top 25 exporter of the year 2012.
• We have an A+ Rating with BBB based on 16 factors
• We have 4.5/5 User Reviews Rating on Capterra
• We have been featured on Yahoo, Forbes,Business.com, and some less famous technology and/or business news sites
Is there any announcement you’d like to make?
We will be releasing CurrencyXchanger 4.0 this fall.Version 4.0 will include a new reporting engine and will allow cloud-based synchronization. Some of the new features in CXR 4.0 include:
• A new revamped and completely customizable reporting engine
• Charts & graphs for management reports
• More streamlined and consistent look across all modules
• Cloud-base synchronization for multi-branch operations
• A setup wizard for simplifying the installation and configuration process
• Improved speed
• New financial feports
• Improved End-of Day (EOD)
• SMS messaging
• Better AML features and reporting