Author Archives: LFP

LFP164 – A Deep Dive Into Ripplenet, A Key 21stC Global Payments Approach, with Marcus Treacher SVP Customer Success Ripple

Payments are being revolutionised. One of the most fascinating examples is Ripplenet – Ripple’s approach to inverting the old model of slow large payments to super-fast, immediate, small payments (the general trend) which will change payments forever. Ripplenet “an internet of value” is used by over 300 Financial Institutions in more than 45 countries, as a next gen global payments infrastructure.

 Marcus has over 30 years of experience in transaction banking and payment technology, including 12 years at HSBC, being a member of the Global Board of SWIFT and an independent non-executive director of CHAPS Co, the UK’s RTGS clearing company.

In this show we start with the super-big picture of how payments have changed over the centuries, how the challenge is not simply tech but how people and organisations relate to this before spiraling in to a schematic overview of the three layers than amount to Ripple’s solution. Continue reading

LFP163 – A Deep Dive Into Venture Debt – An Important But Underused Funding Option? w/Alex Baluta CEO Flowcap

What is called Venture Capital is most of the time actually Venture Equity – the predominant funding model for Startups/ScaleUps. But in many sectors, Fintech included, some UnlistedCos are Very large – valuations in the billions. These are no small companies. Traditional corporate finance theory says (correctly) that equity is expensive and should always be geared with debt. After all it’s what most people do when they buy a house. So for larger Fintechs and other fast-growth sector Venture Debt may well be an important tool.

Alex Baluta is CEO of Flowcap a listed Canadian provider of Venture Debt and with nigh-on thirty years of experience in investment banking as a whole is well placed to contextualise the use and abuse of both equity and debt.

My simple takeaway is withe “small companies” getting ever larger that the equity:debt mix for their capital is a must-consider for their Boards – just as it is on BigCos, next to none of which fund with 100% equity. In terms of debt solutions for the growing firm Venture Debt is an avenue which must be investigated at a certain point/stage.

Topics discussed on the show include: Continue reading

LFP162 – The Past and Future of Fintech w/Vinoth Jayakumar Partner Draper Esprit

Draper Esprit are one of London’s longer-established VCs and with investments in the likes of Revolut, Transferwise, Thought Machine, Seedrs, Crowdcube and Freetrade might know a thing or two about Fintech. Draper Esprit, like Augmentum who we had on the show last year are also a listed AIM and thus also can offer finance not tied to the cycle of underlying funds – the so-called patient capital model.

Vinoth not only leads Fintech investments at Draper Esprit but has had a long running interest in the sector being at a Zopa Party in around 2007/2008 long before almost every firm now on the scene existed.

In this episode he picks out the key developments in Fintech over the past decade and a half, some of the takeaway lessons that all businesses can implement, some of the challenges and ends with his prospects for the upcoming decade.

Topics discussed on the show include: Continue reading

LFP161 – Global B2B Payments & Multi-Rail Technology w/Marwan Forzley CEO Veem

Marwan  joins us to discuss global payments for small businesses. He has been in payments for many years and was first a founder in 2002 so speaks from long experience of both. Veem is a global payments network used by small businesses around the world which allows them to pay their vendors, suppliers and contractors anytime, anywhere.They do payments to 110 countries in 50 plus currencies, and have about 200,000 B2B customers.

One important way that Veem manage such a long list of countries is to use a unique “multi-rail” technology – basically having wired up a bunch of different conduits from bank to bank transfers at one end through the likes of card payments to via crypto currencies at the other. This enables them to have a broader range of options for any particular transfer and for the end-users enables them to have a much richer range of payments destinations.

Topics discussed include: Continue reading

LFP160 – Entrepreneur Masterclass: What Attributes Do You Need To Create A Billion Dollar Company? w/Clay Wilkes CEO Galileo

The Tech press is full of unicorns – but these are almost always “on paper”. Those companies that someone has bought for over a billion – be it a trade sale or IPO – are far rarer. Clay Wilkes has created both starting with just an idea. Galileo Financial Technologies which he co-founded, powers 95% of US digital banks and 5 out of the top 5 of UK digital banks and was sold to SoFI. Galileo was formed in 2000 and succeeded in growing without and external funding  until raising a $77 million Series A round in October 2019 (from Accel). In the 90s Clay floated his prior startup i-Link which was a pioneer in VOIP, 

In this episode Clay shares the entrepreneurial values that he has found most essential in creating not one but two tremendous businesses and taking them from conception to successful trade sale/float. We also focus on the fact that many of these attributes are practices or skills rather than something that one can be – it is something we can work on and keep refining and improving. Few people are very strong without going to the gym and lifting weights, or as Clay has done, few can run marathons without putting in lots of hard work and going through pain barriers.

But this is no mere “no pain no gain” “just keep slogging away and be brilliant” simple blog post level conversation. Clay is a great antithesis to the oft-promoted US model as entrepreneur as somewhat psycho model which exists but is over-emphasised. Clay’s entrepreneurship is grounded in family life – as he says “what really matters”.

As a special bonus for the show notes I will share two aspects that we don’t emphasise in the show. First Clay came well-prepared – now of course all guests do but I would say that his was in the top 10% of guests. Would you – or I – prepare for “yet another interview” if we had sold our company for a billion the month before? I’d imagine that 99.999% of folks in such circs would, as it were, stroll along with their hands in their pockets – after all you don’t get to build a company of that size without being a good talker.

Another example is that Clay referred to reading my book on the SmallCo Board. Again how many entrepreneurs who had successful created two hugely valued companies would read another business book when they could write several themselves?

In both these cases I am reminded of a book I have read about but not read – “Relentless from Good to Great to Unstoppable” by Tim Grover, trainer of the likes of Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant.

But the real lesson here is not about a conversation with a remarkable man but that he models what we can endeavour to become too. We too can always go the extra mile to do our next task even better than we were going to do it. We too can always keep the beginners mind and always believe there is much more to learn not matter how much we know already.

Finally I am reminded of another rare chap I knew who was the american head of an authentic Chinese lineage (which is super-rare). I recall him telling me that his pupils think he is further ahead than they are because he trained super-hard in the past. This he said is true. But, he said, what they don’t realise is that every day he is leaving them further behind as he trains more and puts more into his training.

What would your life be like – in any any aspect you choose, business is just one – if you committed to seeing how good you could be? And not just that but when you had achieved more than you ever thought you could you remain humble, open, don’t coast and always assimilating more?

The deeper part of this podcast for me is what is behind the words – however the words themselves point to the attributes that we can all practice and improve upon. Topics discussed include: Continue reading

LFP159 – “Payments Terms As A Service” w/Lara Gilman iwocapay

Iwocapay is a new business venture from iwoca, one of London’s leading Fintechs, to offer payment terms as a service. Metaphorically this is a cross between a domestic version of trade finance – helping finance a supply chain – with an oldschool (and rather harder to get these days) bank overdraft – ie a flexible facility which can be paid up and down at will. PTAAS means that suppliers get what they want – goods out, cash-in whilst customers get optionality to manage payment terms as proves most convenient to them.

 In this world of post-covid destruction of the economy in the UK small businesses have had the largest hit ever. Fintech cannot sort that but it can oil the wheels of financing supply chains and as we know most businesses go broke due to inadequate cashflow/financing than as they are making losses.

Thus now more than ever innovations for the small businesses that are iwoca’s core market are needed.

In this episode Lara Gilman,, co-lead of iwocapay, takes us through this. Topics discussed include: Continue reading

LFP158 – Beyond Price Comparison Websites: Getting 5% Of A UK insurance Market w/Freddy Macnamara CEO Cuvva

Cuvva have some hundred employees, 400,000 UK clients and 5% of the short-term UK car insurance market which is a phenomenal achievement for any Fintech in any sector. In this episode founder Freddy Macnamara joins us to discuss how price comparison websites have changed the insurance industry, the regulatory review of pricing in re and how to go beyond such websites to, schematically, re-invent the model of a broker who is looking after you for the 21stC insurance markets.

At a higher level this is another delayering play. In the LFP157 we discussed how direct bank to bank payments for merchants would massively delayer the conventional credit card payment chain which has lots of mouths to feed. In the case of insuretech it is simplest to quote from Cuvva’s about page:

“But we soon realised insurance isn’t just lacking. It’s completely broken. It’s built on layers of middlemen and outdated systems.”

Topics discussed include: Continue reading

LFP157 – Enabling Direct Bank to Bank Payments For Merchants – Faster, Cheaper w/Brad Goodall CEO Banked

Online payments are expensive – directly for merchants and indirectly for consumers as the price is obviously higher due to the merchants having a ~3% cost of payments. But in a world where I as a consumer could pay you as a merchant directly from my phone if you simply gave me your sort code and account number (and you would get the funds immediately rather than with a considerable delay), in a world of Open Banking and APIs can this simple model not be automated and provide the same functionality online to all customers?

It turns out it can and Banked are leading the way of so-called direct-payments. These have many benefits not having been designed in the days when a plastic piece of card with some simple numbers on them was what amounted to account security.

If this is the schematic than as always one needs to understand that traditional credit card payments do but just provide payment but a whole host of features around them. What if eg the credit card used to buy something from your store was stolen? What if you the consumer receive the goods having paid but the goods are substandard.

As always with payments the high-level schematic is simple yet the devil lies in the detail.

Topics discussed include: Continue reading

LFP156 “The Importance Of A Great Chairman in Business Success” w/Brian Basham serial entrepreneur/Chairman for over 40yrs

Brian, inter alia, Chairs this excellent charity.

One thing serial entrepreneurs learn if the value of a Good Board in helping drive business success and avoiding car crashes along the way. The ne plus ultra is having a great Chairman. Brian Basham has founded many businesses and chaired many businesses. In 1976 he founded the Broad Street Group with £100 he had borrowed and ten years later listed it on the LSE for £36 million. Furthermore the Broad Street Group was heavily involved in the M&A decade and Brian advised many FTSE Boards, gaining yet more insight into what makes Boards tick and the role of the Chairman

Brian was Chairman of one of the LFP’s former brand partners Archover for many years and continues to Chair Boards having not far short of 50 years of experience of Boards

Thus I can think of no-one better to explain to us all the most important aspects of the Chairman’s role having experienced the whole NewCo to listing/trade sale several times over as well as having many case studies in mind – several of which he shares from the country’s top companies.

Topics discussed on the show include: Continue reading

LFP155 – Buying & Selling Of Labour In Ever Smaller Pieces: Freelancing & Project-Based Working w/Albert Azis Clauson CEO Underpinned

The trend in recent decades has been to ever-more flexible working contracts – be it gig economy, independent consultants or the freelancing/project-based work that sits in between. Gig-ers have a company app to engage and pay and indies a company around them. Freelancing et al have always been challenging to administer for both the buyer or seller of labour. However Fintech is changing all this and Underpinned is leading the charge.

Naturally in a world where governments continue to destroy businesses when the CDC data shows that the fatality rate of covid19 is nothing out of the ordinary it is highly likely that you or someone you know may have to take up smaller chunks of work than they ever would in the past.

Equally it’s likely that your Company or one you know will have to engage folks on ever-shorter projects.

The key to facilitating a more flexible labour-market is to smooth the whole process.

All these topics and many more are discussed including: Continue reading