In this New Year Special I’ll survey the state of the art and present a report card for each of the main Fintech sectors – P2P, Bitcoin, Blockchain, Money, App-only banks, Insuretech, Digital I.M., Regtech, Payments and a deeper dive into the leading AI of 2017. We also examine the broader context for Fintech – namely US Tech Giants who had a seismic shift in 2017.
No awards as such this year but plenty of honourable mentions and a host of goodies for those of you in search of new ideas.
Data is the new oil ‘innit. Fintechs use it by the bucketload don’t they? Incumbents are slow off the blocks aren’t they? What if a lot of this is simply not true? What if its hype and spin? What is the reality?
We are joined today by Max Pell CEO of Validis a Fintech based in London and Austin Texas who seamlessy connect data in SME end systems to your hot sexy Fintech or solidly engineered incumbent. Clients include Barclays, RBS, most of the Big4 accountants and a number of Fintechs so Max is well placed to talk about what is actually going on.
What if the world isn’t as we have been led to believe? What if the reality is that many Fintechs are focuse don being marketing machines and are not that data rich? Eg and esp in P2P. Well that hooked me as I have long felt/intuited/been winked at that all these quotes complex unqotes credit models are not actually – er – complex.
What if the reality was that in new FS and old FS organisations have actually, away from the PR froth and hype, only started putting their toes in the shallow end let alone actually swimming?
What if (as Louise Beaumont was saying in LFP087) most organisations haven’t grasped the strategic implications of data?
Can we (as Snowden and more senior ex spy-industry have argued) have too much data? Can we then start to lose the wood in the trees?
A year ago in LFP060 (currently the 2nd most downloaded episode) we covered Open Banking/PSD2 from a Regulatory perspective. In this episode Louise Beaumont argues forcefully that Reg & Tech perspectives are “necessary but not sufficient”. To do Open Banking “well” means to utterly rethink ones strategy.
Louise is the co-Chair of the Open Bank Working Group at techUK , member of the UK Govt’s Open Bank Implementation Entity and Strategic Advisor Open Bank at Publicis.Sapient and thus sees Open Banking from many sides.
She was also on the show three years ago in LFP011, she was a co-founder of Platform Black, the then number two in the UK Fintech Invoice Discounting sector so has plenty of deep background in the Fintech Revolution. Indeed LFP011 was precisely around what she saw as the 5 Key Challenges facing Fintechs growth (which seem appropriate to this day).
So with that track record behind her we can anticipate that her views on Open Banking/PSD2 will be equally relevant in several years’ time too.
So if a year ago we looked into what this is all about and where it is coming from, we can now examine where we are and critically what the key factors for success are in practice.
What are the threats?
What are the opportunities?
Is sharing your customers data so well you lose them all success?
Nick Ogden is, inter alia, the founder of the FTSE Worldpay and a bunch of other interesting businesses. In 2014 he created ClearBank the UK’s first clearing bank for 250yrs and is setting out to show what a modern, hi-tech clearing bank can offer existing Banks, Fintechs and Corporates.
Its mission is “to create greater competition, transparency and leading edge technology to the banking market.”
Historically the function of Clearing Banks were to clear cheques when there were hundreds of banks in the Uk and traversing the country took days.
This function expanded and now Clearing Banks clear payments of all natures – in the UK FPS, CHAPS, BACS (Direct Debits et al). Clearing banks are basically the experts at “transaction banking”.
But onto the show – how do you disrupt an oligopoly – four clearers control most of the market?
What can one get if one starts with a fresh tech stack rather than piling more on top of tops?
One of the founding ethos of Fintech was “unbundling” – the slicing of FS into single-issue firms. This is now looking old-hat. Revolut acquired 500,000 customers in less than two years by offering interbank rates on FX transfers and so was one of the most successful of Fintech 1.0.
Now they are leading the way with Fintech 2.0 offering a whole range of products. Managing this transition with respect to both “the brand” and “the app” is not trivial and I am delighted to be joined today by co-founder and CEO Nikolay Storonsky.
Unlike Monzo who have gone down the banking route but Revolut have remained with the simpler/cheaper/faster but narrower e-money issuer licence.
Happy New Year boys and girls 🙂 May 2017 be a great one for you and yours! This is the New Year Special where I look back at my 9 highlights from 2016, dish out 10 immensely prestigious awards and take a peak at 2017.
Reformation or refactoring of banking is the Holy Grail of the Fintech Revolution. Do that and the revolution is a big deal. Get nowhere near and its all rather marginal. So-called challenger banks have ended up rather same-y. Will “App-only” banks end up going down the same route forced my micro-regulation and micro-supervision into the same tight mould. Or will they somehow remain within the constraints of the mould but somehow break it at the same time?
Its that paradox that faces Tom Blomfield CEO and founder of Monzo Bank. (and co-founder back in the day of GoCardless who were on the show in LFP046) A long way towards full authorisation as a bank will they become merely “me-too” or will they refactor banking as we know it?
I have been an interested spectator on the sidelines for come time wondering which way the ball will bounce. At Lendit Europe 2016 I finally succumbed and took one of Tom’s pre-paid Mastercards – not least as which they offer wholesale exchange rates abroad and I was just off on holiday. It’s actually quite cool and more useful than expected. Certainly one gets a clear idea of what its like to feel like the business is really focusing on you as a customer-centric organisation with great design and service.
But back to the big picture – will Tom change the mould or will the mould change Tom?
2016 is the year Fintech realised it had to aim for making a profit. Very few do and for the tiny handful that do its mostly “minimal”. Solving this problem is absolutely vital for the Fintech revolution. This is the story of a Fintech that has done just that – satisfying customers, staff and shareholders. Blue Motor Finance has gone from 12 to 100 staff, 0 to 40 people “on the road”, £0 to £200+m loans, and £0 to seven-figure profits in just two years. A phenomenal achievement, and by a firm not widely known in the broader Fintech world.
So listen up and find the real secrets of balanced Fintech success as CEO and founder Bob Jones shares how a lifetime’s lessons (having been in asset finance for over 50 yrs) has enabled him to reach these goals.
Bob has been a CEO of some big companies, many of which he turned round. An management buy-in provided a bridge from the top roles in BigCo to starting from scratch and leveraging all that experience.
After organising nearly 1,000 folks in the O2 for Europe’s largest P2P conference ever I managed to grab Peter long enough to have a fascinating tour of the globe and P2P sitrep in the three major hubs.
Peter Renton has perhaps has more of a broad and deep understanding of P2P worldwide than anyone.
When he first came on the show way back in LFP015 he shared with us the fascinating history of US P2P with its hugely up and down roller-coaster road.
Since then he has created the world’s go-to conferences on P2P in the US, China and Europe which gives him a unique insight into what’s what and where.
It’s a big world and P2P is a vast domain these days so there is plenty to discuss. Key topics are: Continue reading →
Upcoming changes re opening payments to non-banks and opening access to bank account data will change the industry. On top of this we have UK and European initiatives in re (even before Brexit). It’s all swirling round and I thought we needed a guide to clarify where it all is and where it’s all going.
But first some intros to Paul’s hats.
ACI Worldwide, founded in 1975, is one of these perhaps behind the scenes incumbent payments companies that most of you may not have heard of. Suffice it to say they do $14 trillion of payments per … wait for it … day (!!) Interestingly staff numbers are around 5,000 so that looks to me like $3bn per staff member per day. Either their fingers move fast or do you know what … incumbents can use tech as well or even better than those assailing the castle might ever think.
Lazy Fintech commentators and those with little experience in FS – two categories summed up in many a LinkedIn so-called thought leader article – often talk about FS as if FS were basically almost entirely Banks. As listeners to the show will know its far from that. There is a vast ecosystem of players into which Fintechs are trying to find themselves a place at the table.
In LFP049 we had the pleasure of talking to Rich Wagner, Chairman of the Emerging Payments Association. The Payments Strategy Forum is another player in the equation – Paul can explain the whole meta-process of how incumbents, startups, associations and forums and the regulator and legislators interact to produce the FS world we live in.
Oh yes and we start the show with a story which will take the all-time London Fintech Podcast record for anecdotes – taking an ex-US President to a pub in London.