LFP239 – The Latest In Payments Tech – Curation Trumps Orchestration? w/Aran Brown CEO Paytrix

The speed of change is super-rapid and nowhere more than in payments where advance rapidly leapfrogs advance. For the past two years “orchestration” has been The Thing (see eg LFP213 a deep dive into that topic). However now we have the latest greatest kid on the block the idea of curation. If orchestration solved the challenge of the techies namely replacing many APIs with one – a natural leap forwards – it did not solve the businesses challenges with negotiating a whole bunch of biparty arrangements contract et al. Curation promises to fix all that by creating a single counterparty – the curator – as an intermediary.

Aran has a super-impressive long track-record in the payments industry and his latest venture – Paytrix – has impressive backers such as Bain Capital and raised some $18m for an A Series in a tough time for tech raises.

Bootstrapping to be a Tier 1 counterparty is not simple matter and Aran guides us through not just what the curation model is but also the challenges of not slowly walking up the mountain to the heights but getting there super-rapidly.

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LFP238 – Global Real Time Payments in 2023 w/Craig Ramsey Head G/R/T/P ACI Worldwide

The world is quite a large place but who better to cover the situation and trend in real-time payments than Craig Ramsey Head of Global Real Time Payments at ACI Worldwide who process around a billion payments per day with total value in the trillions of dollars. In this episode we dive into real time payments in the UK, Europe, the US and within the BRICS as well as talking about the next challenge – namely smooth interconnection of local real time payments networks.

Craig has getting on for 40 yrs experience of payments including having started as a Cobol programmer. He has been at ACI since 2000 and has thus seen a very long time horizon on this topic as well as being involved in managing and planning future real time payments programs worldwide.

The topic certainly turned out to be one that was more fascinating than I had previously realised with many moving parts.

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LFP237 – Avoiding Operational Challenges in Emerging Markets w/Tosin Eniolorunda CEO Moniepoint

Scaling any successful technology firm (who can expand so much faster than ~”bricks and mortar” firms) involves considerable challenges. These challenges are only compounded by challenges with surrounding infrastructure which, shall we say, aren’t even around the world. What may be taken for granted in the world’s leading tech hubs may be conspicuously absent in many territories. Thus in many ways scaling in emerging markets is the real stress test for an entrepreneurs ability to overcome challenges, internal and external.

Tosin is founder and CEO of Moniepoint, who provide banking platforms, Africa’s largest fintech by transaction volume ($170bn pa) and were recently ranked the second-fastest growing company in Africa by the Financial Times. Based in Lagos Nigeria Tosin has had more than the average entrepreneurs share of challenges dealing not just with scaling a company but scaling it where the ecosystem isn’t entirely ideal.

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LFP236 – Making Business Loan Decisions in Minutes w/Chirag Shah CEO Nucleus Commercial Finance

It was not that long ago that business lending decisions took days, weeks, or even months. This lengthy period – and then need to perhaps apply to multiple banks was a severe challenge for many organisations, many of whom over time have gone bust whilst going through such processes.

But what if using the best of technology this extended time-period could be reduced to minutes moving way nearer to B2C BNPL decisions? Even a few years back this would sound highly unlikely in anything other than special cases. However Nucleus Commercial Finance have funded £2.6bn of loans and processed over 100,000 loan applications for over a decade with successful results and now make decisions in less than 5 minutes and aim to get that time even lower.

Needless to say this is no easy task and in this episode founder and CEO Chirag Shah leads us through the journey to that. Key elements are naturally the data – where Open Banking and Open Accounting are the technical conduits to getting data, permission to access this data ahead of the need for a loan and naturally the challenge of ensuring that automated decisions are at least as good as if not outperform those of human credit officers.

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LFP235 – Fintech in China, Super-Apps and Alipay w/Eva Zhang CEO Alipay UK

Although the title is apparently three-fold re episode topic the Chinese Fintech market is very different from other markets we have touched upon so far and one that we definitely need to dive into. You will have heard of Alipay but may not know that as long as a decade ago they overtook Paypal to become the worlds largest online/mobile payments platform. They serve an astonishing over 1.3bn users and 80m merchants. Which is impressive. Furthermore – to the super-app point in a radically different marketplace their app – a Super-App, back to the title – doesn’t just do payments but a wide range of functionalities including ride sharing, travel bookings and medical appointments

Like much (all?) in China history goes a long way back. Alipay were founded nearly 20 years ago by Jack Ma as part of the Alibaba Group but later split off. Eva Zhang is CEO of Alipay UK and guides us through this large landscape today.

China is itself either the world’s largest economy or second or about to be first or some such. Even if China isn’t the world’s largest or largest Fintech market I recall Peter Renton founder of Lendit some 5 years ago on this podcast giving us an overview of Fintech around the world (as his conferences covered the world, one annual event being in China) saying that if you wanted to know the future of Fintech just go to China.

So a must-know set of topics for Fintechers. Topics discussed include: Continue reading

LFP234 – Managing Your Insurance Portfolio w/Goncalo de Vasconcelos CEO RNWL

Over a decade into the Fintech revolution its a rare episode that covers something entirely fresh and furthermore a show that I end up thinking I should check out downloading the app – and not just me – everyone who uses insurance (that’ll be everyone) may well do too. Rnwl promise to take the hassle out of all those email renewals at random times of the year as well as providing a single hub to track your insurances as well as a host of other benefits which we dive into. It is one of those ideas so seemingly simple that when its been done one wonders why it hadn’t been before. Maybe it is harder to execute well than it sounds.

Goncalo was last back on the LFP way back in LFP025 in 2015 when he was CEO of Syndicate Room which he founded. Syndicate Room is still going strong but as Goncalo explains he loves most the early part of the entrepreneurial journey the one with infinite creative potential and at the same time no funds, no resources and few people believing it is possible.

Amazingly price comparison sites do not track – or have the data to track your insurance policies and just email you with last years search rerun. Equally insurers are interested in selling you a product and not in your entire insurance portfolio which unless you insure everything with the same provider they don’t capture either on their platforms.

So check this episode out, not just to learn more but also potentially take a burden off your shoulders and potentially have a bunch of added-value along with that.

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LFP233 – Radical Innovation in B2C Lending Using Open Banking Data w/Gerald Chappell CEO Abound

This is a super-rare episode on a fundamentally different way of assessing consumer loan risk so far into the Fintech Age focusing on an area which is bizarrely massively undercovered namely that of utilising Open Banking Data for credit assessment of personal loans. Furthermore this is a rare example of a Fintech – the parent company is Fintern.ai –  which both provides SAAS services to banks under its Render brand and directly lends itself through its Abound brand – which is quite a compelling display of faith in the approach which has so far over two years led to an astonishing 70% reduction in loan defaults :-O

Gerald was previously Global Head of Digital Lending at McKinsey so he should know a thing or two about this topic. Furthermore despite Abound being formed only in 2020 last year they raised an eye-opening £1/2bn in funding so there must be quite a few people out there impressed by Abound.

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LFP232 – Learning from Entrepreneurial/Business Failure, Three Case Studies w/Jovi Overo MD BAAS Unlimit

This is a very unique (sic) in the long history of the podcast in that I have finally found a guest brave enough and kind enough to talk about the experience of business failure as well as the human journey through it. Naturally the LFP focuses on proven successes if only to provide North Stars and ideas for other entrepreneurs/intrapreneurs. But in business as in life – and after all the former is simply a subset of the latter – there is much we can learn from failure, painful as it always is. Painful as it is to recount and relive being wounded and scarred this is thus a very heartfelt sharing by Jovi in order to help others avoid incurring similar wounds and scars and thus prevent human suffering – there being no higher cause.

The other challenge with such an episode is avoiding the degree of abstraction that effectively says “work hard, have a great idea and a team” blah blah. Not that any such abstractions are wrong but our lives are more real and rich experiences than any words in a dictionary or clickbait article on “6 ways to guaranteed success”.

Jovi, MD of BAAS at the formidable Fintech Unlimit – formed in 2009 and with an impressive 16 offices in 5 continents – avoids this over-abstraction challenge by taking us on the journey through three businesses – the first of which, an FS brokerage, was an astonishing success for nigh on a decade and survived the 2008 crisis.

We also reference other case studies and life lessons/experiences – both of us for example having experienced that phenomenon when a Midas Touch suddenly becomes the reverse Midas Touch and everything one touches stops turning to Gold and turns to dust.

Overall an entrepreneurial episode from a very human perspective which is easily forgotten and/or glossed over in a world where having “great tech” can take you a long way.

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LFP231 – Accelerating Monetary and Banking Change inc Debanking, Gold Repatriation & BRICs Gold Plans w/Mario Innecco

So rapid is the rate of change in banking and the nature of and control of money right now that today we set a record and have a returning guests a mere 6 months later. Mario (YouTube Channel) first joined us in Feb22 for the gargantuan LFP197 “Money in the 21stC: Ballooning Printing of Fiat/QE/”MMT”/Govt Debt, CBDCs, Crypto, Dedollarisation, Hyperinflation, Gold” and more recently in Feb23 for LFP220 “Has A Century Of The Federal Reserve and 50 Years Off The Gold Standard Directly Led To Monetary and Social Disaster for the West?”.

Now we cover the accelerating trends whose tap roots run deep. The first we might call “debanking” – banks debanking themselves by going bust, banks debanking individuals by denying them bank accounts and banks debanking “cash” to ensure  no alternative (&with CBDCs on the horizon to increase their already way too mighty power).

Separately as many entirely foresaw “debanking” of Russia (Nazi Germany was not debanked of its reserves even in WW2) and the US having economically “sanctioned” one-third of the countries on the planet the second fruit is a creation of a non-dollar-centric financial system with Gold Repatriation, BRICs planning a gold-backed medium of exchange for trade.

As money is not just central to the lives of Financiers and Fintechers but everyone on the planet its the most vital topic to track and so we take stock in mid-2023 of where we are and where we are going.

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LFP230 – Islamic Finance, Fintech & Broader Issues for Ethical Investment w/Umer Suleman CRO Wahed

In this episode we dive not just into the world of Islamic Finance and Fintech but the practical lessons we can learn from the world’s oldest “ethical investment” tradition. In particular in an ever-changing world there is always the need to extend and interpret any given set of “ethical finance” guidelines for new circumstances. The Islamic world has had vastly longer to get to grips with managing this confluence of principle and practice in a Heraclitean world of constant change.

In LFP223 we heard about Fintech in the Middle East and North Africa in which regions there are varying mixtures of traditional/Islamic/sharia finance and conventional/modern finance. Umer Suleman has worked in the public sector, at Ernst and Young, HSBC and now at Wahed – an ethical and values driven investment platform based in New York – – an ethical and values driven investment platform based in New York who are perhaps the world’s largest Islamic Fintech – and so is well-placed to appreciate both conventional and Islamic Finance and their complex relationships and how they have changed over time. He is also a member of the Islamic Finance Council of the UK and so well-immersed in this topic.

In this episode we get to understand the challenge and opportunity of serving a specific demographic. Needless to say especially younger demographics around the world in general are becoming ever-more demanding in terms of products and services in the tech age and this too certainly applies to the more religious of the younger Muslim users of FS who may no longer be prepared to accept the inevitable compromises with a world where the Financial System operates almost entirely based on interest that previous generations may have tolerated/had to tolerate.

So plenty of education, rich content and lessons to be learned beyond one particular demographic!

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