LFP154 – Successful Partnering in Fintech w/Joanne Dewar CEO GPS

One reason that as the Fintech revolution proceeds Fintechs can do more ambitious things is that there an increasing number of back-end service providers that they can plug into. In this episode Joanne Dewar, CEO of back-end payments services provider GPS – who work with 40 issuing banks globally, and operate programmes with 90+ APIs for over 100 clients (including Revolut, Starling Bank and Bo) in 60 countries in 150 currencies – joins us to share her experience of what drives  success in this sector for both the B2C front-end companies and the B2B back-end providers. GPS is furthermore a rare example of a profitable Fintech – which are always good to talk to.

Back-end providers have been with us for a long time – Currency Cloud, who executed most of Transferwise’s FX transactions for quite some time were back on the show years ago.

Time moves on though and by now we have plenty of data where partnering/outsourcing worked well and plenty where it did not.

What are the key factors of success? How is it done well and why is it done badly?

Topics discussed on the show include:

  • juggling family and business life at home; how kids are coping compared to adults
  • kids greater adaptability
  • Joanne’s career journey
  • GPS (almost?) unique journey from Founder-funded straight to Private Equity-backed skipping all the usual steps in the middle!
  • the value of VC stages in establishing more sold Board practices along the way
  • unusually with the Fintech space GPS was profitable
  • the long genesis of GPS from 1999 onwards in related markets until it set up the kind of back-end services it needed itself
  • bold ambitions from the start – they called themselves GPS (G=global) even when they only had one client
  • you need scale to be a processing platform given the huge fixed costs
  • first 3rd-party customer in 2013 when GPS were around 15ppl in UK (&devs in India) – now 200ppl in total including dev teams and >100 clients
  • recently opened offices in Singapore and Australia and soon to open in Dubai
  • why partner/outsource? In GPS case to do it yourself would require >£10m and 2-3yrs to setup. Given challenge of time to market this is just not feasible, let alone for it not being “easy” to do well.
  • speed to market important otherwise someone else takes the opportunity
  • the key is “true partnership” not selling cheaply, not deciding too fast, too superficially
  • you need to have an idea not just of what you need today but what you might need tomorrow
  • mistakes – trying to do it too fast, trying to do it too cheaply, not having a long term vision
  • need to overcome the challenge of vast potential and complexity on day1
  • “one-stop shops” can be fast to get to market with but metaphorically if you buy a bicycle you are locked-in forever more to certain top speeds
  • how GPS helps clients with that challenge of getting a proof of concept to market when they themselves weren’t the fastest route to market – a creative solution
  • comparison with Agile project challenges
  • the realpolitik challenges of theory meeting practice
  • comparison with WordPress templates and websites
  • how GPS copes with a huge variety of customer types – the importance of initial starting point packages and later customisation
  • how the whole issuer-merchant workflow operates – a GPS does not hold money but the score; the other role of issuer-services
  • the many services needed in the above workflow
  • why fraudsters target startups
  • GPS works not just for Fintechs but established organisations
  • GPS growth-plans
  • looking for issuer banks to work with
  • why London has led the world in Fintech

And much much more 🙂

Share and enjoy!