LFP024 – Lessons from my 25yrs in Fintech, #oldFS, #newFS and VC with Nigel Verdon Founder of Currency Cloud

Currency Cloud

I am delighted to be joined on the show today by Nigel Verdon founder and Chairman of Currency Cloud (who have always been my “Fintech insiders” Fintech of choice and have now done over $10bn of business) and also partner at OGC Capital – Anglo-Dutch VCs.

NIgel VerdonOn LinkedIn Nigel modestly describes himself as:

“Broad range of experience from tech guy to trader guy with deep industry experience in capital markets, foreign exchange, international payments and technology.”

It’s both novel and refreshing to see modesty in the modern world and (as generally) it’s massively misplaced.  Nigel has been – on anyone’s measure – a colossus in both the #oldFS and #new FS worlds and has now moved into the VC world.

He wrote an excellent piece last year entitled So What Is Fintech? which I recall for having been clearly and deeply thought-through – as rare in s-called “social” (selfcast?) media as modesty.  Only having discussed his career journey on this episode with him do I realise what it has taken to achieve that degree of insight and understanding.

In this wide-ranging and deeply insightful conversation about the long roots of Fintech we cover a broad range of topics including:

– the relevance of Nigel’s background in engineering

– why spray-painting cars seems to me to be the missing link in FS crises in the past two decades

– the influence of Swiss Bank Corp in the ’90s on the development of “digital” (ie interweb/private lines) on banking right from the earliest days of the first use of chat in FX in the early 90s.  This chat facility as the origination of the whole “FX price rigging” scandals recently.

– the rules of memos and emails (oft-forgotten)

– FS as one of the leading examples of using new technology (despite its reputation currently) eg using Steve Jobs Next computers

– what was lost by moving from floor-based trading into tech-based trading [a useful counterpoint to current overly simplistic adoration of tech for its own sake]; the role of this as leading to FS crashes, scandals, manipulation

– the important of the experience of forming “digital markets” at Dresdner Kleinworts in the noughties; especially for how to handle plain-vanilla, increasingly unprofitable, trading [very pertinent to Fintech today]

– the first Fintech and the people in it in that day (and how incredibly influential this diaspora is now)

– how visiting a French tobacconist was key to Nigel founding FX Capital Group which later changed name to Currency Cloud (and the importance behind the name change of the strategic repositioning)

– the importance of “solving hassle” versus “doing it cheaper” in the growth and sustainable strategic vision for Currency Cloud [Fidor Bank went live with Currency Cloud in two weeks (!)]

– what does “transparency” mean – and the very variable standards that folks still label as “transparent”

– why P2P was always a weak model for FX (and Nigel’s very early conversations with Transferwise and Kantox in re)

– the decision-making process around chosing the CEO for Currency Cloud – a tech guy who understand fin? or a fin guy who understand tech? or a total tech guy?

– the weaknesses of P2P re lending and borrowing and whether a “P2P ‘interbank’ market might ever arise” or whether “P2P lending/borrowing firms” will end up “just” being deal originators for more “API-ed” banks

– the comparison between an API-ed vision of banking and the iPhone – worth the price of admission alone

– “a lot of Fintech misses the importance of safety/trust”

– Nigel’s view that banks don’t get disrupted; the longevity of banks through all sorts of crises – Nigel’s family example of ANZ bank; “Fintechs need to work with the banks”; the importance of creating “coincidence of purpose” between Fintechs and banks

– what drove Nigel’s decision to move into VC; OGC as not from an “investor background” but an operator VC; the various types and flavours of VC firms; where added value can come from

– OGC’s position in the Fintech/VC market


And much much more including plenty of laughs 🙂