Two topics this week… What are the major trends in Insurtech in the US, UK, Europe and China? Secondly Small Business insurance, general liability professional liability insurance and so forth can be hard to acquire at commercially sensible terms and thus many contractors or home repair folk end up giving up on potential work as a result.
Jay is a great guy to cover both of these topics – not only is he a successful serial entrepreneur having previously created Hailo (sold to Daimler) and eCourier (sold to the Royal Mail) but Thimble has already done $175bn of coverage (which sounds like a lot to me). They were recently named as Fast Company’s 2021 #1 Most Innovative “Small and Mighty” Company. Which is impressive.
Insurance is being sliced and diced into ever smaller pieces something which can only help the little guy and small businesses who have been so hard hit by governmental policies which for a year titled the competitive table massively in favour of BigCos. Thus we have yet another example that the apparently dull world of FS and insurance is actually the oil in an engine without which the engine cannot function. Or put another way fixing this problem is a great way to increase economic growth and improve the lives of both suppliers and consumers.
Little more than a couple of decades ago IT was a very back office function in large FS organisations. Now it has completely inverted to become centre-stage in roughly every dimension of being in business, FS included.
Tony Clark, serial entrepreneur, founder and CEO of NextWave Consulting has over thirty years experience of large City FS projects and takes us on a tour of the all-encompassing challenges facing all large incumbent FS players in not just reacting to but in leveraging the digital technologies and digital ecosystem to ensure they are at the leading edge not the trailing edge of the 21stC digital revolution so changing business right now.
Tony’s premise is that FS institutions need a phase change of approach to successfully leverage change. Topics discussed include: Continue reading →
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.
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.
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.
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?
Today the LFP has Dan Kiernan as guest host and instead I am in the guest seat to discuss my long in the making recently released book on the Unlisted Board The Realpolitik Of The Unlisted Company Board – Making Your Board An Engine Of Growth. This is a behind the scenes account based on interviews with some 80 SmallCo Boarders – mostly founders but including Chairmen, NEDs, VCs, Angels and other SmallCo Boarding surround.
Done well the Board can turbocharge the SmallCo’s success – done badly it can end up in company failure or the sacking of the founder who created the company in the first place.
Company Boards are a mysterious and remote thing for most people – only a tiny percentage of any company serves on the topmost, legal Board. If you are in MegaCo they will generally be so remote as to be irrelevant to your day job. Even in a SmallCo you may know little of what they do other than matters such as signing off on fund raisings, certain large expenditures et al. You will have read about the obsession of recent decades Corporate Governance and think that Boards are just paper pushing.
However no matter how inexperienced and naive all founders sooner or later find out that it is the Board that governs the Company not the founder. For some time the founder might have voting control on the Board but as bigger and bigger raises come and go the founders control slips away which creates a whole new dynamic.
In this show we discuss the background leading to the book, the motivation and some key takeaways as well as the thing that serial entrepreneurs know about the Board that the first time founder does not. Topics discussed on the show include: Continue reading →
Charlie is one of London’s greatest serial entrepreneurs – with ground-breaking the Student Room and Market Invoice under his belt, as an MLRO he saw the huge gap in the market for using AI/ML to solve both the Financial Crime problem and businesses problems in risking prison if they get it wrong. Thus he formed ComplyAdvantage in 2014 which now has offices in four countries around the world.
This whole area has many dimensions. First it’s a regulatory necessity – Fintechs, FS and increasingly others (Apple had to pay a big fine recently) need to Do The Right Thing. Second its a huge resource drain, traditionally very manually done. But third the MLRO is the poor bod that will be picked on to go to jail.
How does Fintech/FS handle these challenges?
What can computers and a smart bunch of folks do to solve this in a 21stC way?
All this and more are covered in this episode. Topics discussed include: Continue reading →
In this show we review a decade in Fintech. Although the earliest Fintechs were formed around 2004/5 (WorldFirst, Zopa) many big names formed around 2010 (Funding Circle, Ratesetter, MarketInvoice). The LFP formed started covering the scene in mid-2014, the year of the first London Fintech week and the year that the Fintech word first hit the broadsheets. Using the shownotes at the time as a diary I trace the evolution of the promises, the hopes, the disappointments, the old innovations and the new innovations. Where did it all go?
No long show notes this week – it is a podcast podcast and in listening you can draw your own conclusions – indeed that’s the point of using dozens of real world examples as seen at the time not as seen through the dark glass of memory.
Congratulations to everyone involved in the London Fintech scene and wider UK Fintech scene and to all listeners. Want to know what the next decade might hold? Check out the previous decade and join the dots…!
Capital Markets is the beating heart of FS – far higher tech and far more hardcore than just bank accounts and it is by definition the most complex area. What can we and Fintech learn from the super-big boys working in this world?
FIS systems process an astonishing amount of $9 trillion moved around the world per annum. They acquired the super-well known FS systems vendor Sunguard systems at the end of 2015
Martin Boyd is President of Capital Markets at FIS and is thus well-placed to give us the view on FS and “digital” from the most hardcore high volume end of the industry spectrum.
Indeed as we all regularly gloss “digital” as being “interweb + smartphone” what does digital actually mean when we are talking about wholesale markets for megabanks – I assume it isn’t “interweb + smartphone” – what does it mean in this context?
What we can learn, the view from the top of the mountain and much more are discussed. Topics include: Continue reading →