Author Archives: LFP

LFP168 – A Superb Guide To “Open FS” Progress Around the World w/Keith Grose Head Plaid UK

Open Banking started a far greater wave, The ability for people to share ever-more of their financial data – not just current account but *everything* from mortgages to investments to pensions data promises to revolutionise the world of FS and people’s financial lives. In this excellent conversation Keith gives us a tour d’horizon and a tour de force covering Case Studies of the progress of Open Finance in the UK, Europe, US, Canada, Australia and China. All of these countries have taken very differing routes starting from very different places but are all marching in the same direction.

Open Banking itself in the UK started with a Payments Directive and is thus only aimed at current accounts so far from “open banking” is not even “open banking assets” (only payment accounts are included so eg no data on savings accounts) let alone “open banking liabilities”.

Plaid are currently in the process of being acquired by Visa for $5.7bn which shows you their importance, is the largest Open Banking provider in the US and “the only transatlantic Open Banking provider” connecting Fintechs with all these diverse sources of customer’s financial data from their providers.

Topics discussed on the show include: Continue reading

LFP167 – Traditional Insurance Model Inverted, Community Insurance Reinvented w/Tobi Taupitz CEO Laka

The alignment of economic interests between buyer and seller is much spoken about but little done. Over two and half years ago when Tobi was first on the show he spoke about the idea of aligning Laka’s interests with their clients. Now we hear this narrative all the time but rarely is it deeply true.

In Laka’s case they do not take payment for the insurance but rather earn money when they pay-out on an insurance claim – the opposite of the insurance industry. Its a “back to the future” approach – back to the origins of insurance as being collectives, co-operatives of say Swiss dairy farmers up an alp bonding together for mutual (sic) support.

Well back then it sounded like a wonderful idea but one that would need careful paramaterisation. As with anything in life one needs to balance compassion for others with compassion for yourself – all too many teachers, doctors et al go into their profession to help people but come out of it decades later bitter and cynical. In the same way you can set up a company tomorrow that is totally focused on client-value (which many say of course but no-one really does) but if you are 100% on client-value then that’s zero value for your business and at some point you go bust.

In this episode we look at truly aligned Insurtech. How has the model gone? Is it widespread? Will it catch on? What does the future hold?

Topics discussed include: Continue reading

LFP166 – Progress On Scaling Identity Verification Across Europe & Globalising w/John Erik Setsaas Signicat

All Fintechs in one country will have long since sorted identity/AML/KYC and so forth. But what happens when they need to scale in other countries or even go global? Like many things in Fintech this was a hard challenge only a few years back. However now it is made much easier by the likes of Signicat who are physically in nine locations in Europe and alongside global partners such as Onfido can offer globally-scalable identity services. Which is a pretty amazing feat given how countries vary so much as we shall hear.

Today we are joined by John Erik Setsaas  VP Identity and Innovation at Signicat and who has 25 years of experience in identity and thus understands the long view, the challenges and also the more recent progress at cracking some of these nuts as well as what the future may hold.

Tech never sleeps and every successive layer of out-sourceable services that are provided in Fintech mean that every new generation of Fintechs can provide yet more interesting and sophisticated services to customers and businesses.

Topics discussed include: Continue reading

LFP165 – Relationship Banking – the Surprising Answer to the Needs of Growing Techs? Tom Butterworth MD Silicon Valley Bank

In a world ever-more focused on transactions and digitisation what place is there for relationship-banking? Apparently not a lot, yet the market-leader – SVB – wholly embraces this approach over the whole journey from Startup to FTSE. In this show we discuss what relationship banking means in the 21stC for one of the hottest sectors in the market.

SVB is the commercial bank for high growth companies and the biggest banker for PE/VC firms. In the UK they have 4,000 clients, over one thousand of which are pre-series A. As we heard in LFP163 SVB are also the world leaders in Venture Debt.

Tom Butterworth is the Head of Early Stage at SVB in London and joins us today to talk about the importance of relationship-banking, of looking after the customer and of viewing the financial aspect of the relationship across the whole life cycle of high growth companies.

We discuss how serving a vertical can enhance the clients in many ways as well as produce the deal flow to make the approach commercially viable – knowing a single sector in great depth leading to, inter alia, a much deeper understanding of credit-risk than simply putting numbers in a spreadsheet.

Topics discussed in this show include: Continue reading

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