Neo Banks

When Should A FinTech Hire A Banker
When Should A Fintech Hire A Banker?

“The Revolut Country CEO search took six months. The brief changed 4 times as the company grew from 700 to almost 2000 staff during this time. Customer numbers went from 4m to almost 10m. When a company is growing that fast in a highly regulated sector like Banking, it creates a lot of complexity, meaning hiring becomes complex.” 

dexter cousins – tier one people

Are You Startup Ready?

Often the “Fin” in Fintech would denote a heavy hitter from a bank being a winning hire, right?

In the fast paced environment of Fintech, we have noticed caution on the part of our clients in making such a decision.

The hesitation is bound in stereotypes. Banking is often viewed as a mired in red-tape, compliance (or lack of, in Australia), too many chiefs, too many meetings and nothing getting done. Huge amounts of resources and dollars are thrown at projects that never come to fruition. Whilst their Fintech competitors move with stealth and agility, innovating at much greater speed with minimal resources.

The role of an Executive Search Consultant is to challenge stereotypes and get clients to view each candidate on their merits. The view of not being a team player and rolling up your sleeves is often a misconception in banking, but there are plenty who refuse to conform to the stereotype of a banker. 

Tier One People is bolstering our position as the leading Australian Fintech Executive Search firm. Australia’s growing FinTech sector has seen a rise in the search for C-suite and leadership talent. Counting Revolut, TrueLayer, 10x, Klarna and Transferwise as some of the many companies seeking our assistance.

How bankers can take control of their job search.

A more proactive approach job seekers can take is to look at where your big banking skills can have an impact. Assessing whether a company is at start-up or scale up stage will also aid you in making a successful move to Fintech. Read this article on Fintech Career Advice to gain a better understanding at which stage of growth you are best suited to.

Before embarking on the search it is crucial to take a step back and ask yourself; 

“How would I cope moving from a structured and heavily supported environment to a one of a specialist generalist”

The best advice we can give candidates looking to join a Fintech. 

“Focus on impact. How many years you have worked somewhere doesn’t excite a founder, showing a founder how you can make/save the company millions of $$ does.”

Showcasing your skills in 2020 also requires more savvy than ever before. Looking good on paper doesn’t get cut through anymore. If you are in the market looking to join a Fintech you need to have a plan in place and a goal in sight. You need to utilise all of the tools available, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Podcasts. These are all channels where you get direct access to decision makers, people who can hire you.

You can showcase your skills and achievements, bringing them to life and not being blocked by gatekeepers and recruiters.

Do FinTech Need Banking Experience?

Dexter Cousins, the CEO and Founder of Tier One People, has interviewed more than 300 FinTech leaders on the subject of hiring. He firmly believes hirers should consider the lifecycle of a Fintech to assess where the best candidate fit is. 

It’s very difficult for anyone to move from a corporate job to an early stage startup. But with the rapid growth of tech companies, a startup can become an enterprise in 5 years. Examples include Stripe, Revolut and Australia’s Afterpay.

It’s a difficult process identifying the right time for a banker to join a Fintech. The right person can definitely make a significant contribution as the company scales. Often times the right hire is made but at the wrong time, which ultimately means the hire is wrong.

Find out just what skills you need in this exclusive interview with Eric Wilson, CEO of neo Bank Xinja.

We get inundated with calls on a daily basis from candidates seeking a move to the shiny new world of ‘FinTech’. However, opening your pitch with “hey, I’ve got 20 years experience in banking, I want to work in FinTech” might not be the best way to impress people. 

It’s also important to make the distinction between a Finance business and a Software business. Are bankers better suited to a NeoBank or a platform provider. Fintech covers a wide range of businesses and making this distinction can really increase your chances of securing a move.

Judo Bank, Xinja, 86 400 and Revolut in Australia have all hired highly experienced bankers early in their growth. Judo and Xinja are both founded by highly experienced bankers who were driven to change the industry.

FinTech’s are at the cutting edge of innovation with far fewer resources than any bank. The reality is no founder or investor gets excited by somebody with twenty years experience in banking, unless they can demonstrate previous success in a startup and they have skills currently not in the business which are mission critical to success. 

 

Dexter Cousins features alongside Aussie Fintech legend Joseph Healy of Judo Bank in this months FinTech Finance Magazine.

When Founders need help with hiring.

The recruitment process to join a Fintech can be almost as intense as the job itself. If you can’t handle the intensity of the interview process, it’s highly unlikely you will succeed in the job.

The thing to remember is that FinTech founders themselves may not have the breadth of experience in HR or Talent to make critical hiring decisions. Hiring for a startup is often a make or break decision. We’ve watched some companies flourish and others flounder because of it. 

For a founder looking to hire, specialist FinTech recruiters are more easily able to identify those candidates who are the ”right cultural fit.” Assessing if someone will relish the challenge of working in a FinTech environment is very difficult using traditional interview techniques. And a specialist recruiter can provide far greater access to Talent than an ad campaign and direct networks, especially in talent short markets. 

But to achieve these results a client needs to invite us ‘into the tent’.

The key to success is communication

Being attuned to the changing demands of the business is vital to ensure success when hiring. 

“The Revolut Country CEO search took six months. The brief changed 4 times as the company grew from 700 staff to almost 2000 during this time. Customer numbers went from 4m to almost 10m. When a company is growing that fast in a highly regulated sector like Fintech, it creates a lot of complexity. Hiring becomes even more complex.” commented Dexter Cousins.

There is a need for the modern executive search consultant to set realistic expectations with their clients. Being transparent and honest (even though clients may not want to hear what you have to say) is the only way to achieve lasting success. This approach is core to the values at Tier One People. The search for the “blue eyed unicorn” is never a realistic one and usually wastes significant time and business opportunities. 

Dom Pym – Up Bank

“The Up website has the word banking crossed out on the home page, and we’ve replaced it with living. Banking is really just an invisible utility, something in the background supporting your life and not getting in the way.”

Dominic Pym. Co-Founder, UP Bank.

Dom is an entrepreneur and technologist who recently launched Up (up.com.au), a next-generation Australian digital bank delivering super powered banking. Up is a clever way to organise your money and simplify your life, giving you the freedom to do the things you love. Dom’s been involved in software, web and mobile development for over 20 years from start-ups to global enterprises in Australia, the UK, the USA and throughout Asia.

Tier One People CEO, Dexter Cousins spent the afternoon at UP Bank HQ in May 2019. The interview with Dom is the longest one we have ever published but filled with amazing insights and strategies. It is almost like a playbook for building a digital bank. Enjoy!

 


 

How Did Up Start?

 

The idea for Up was born out of frustration. We’re essentially a team of designers and engineers, so we approach problem solving with software solutions. I was also a software developer years ago and, as an entrepreneur, I generally try to solve everyday problems for me personally, for my family, for my mates, etc. Sometimes the solutions turn into businesses. The story of Up goes back about 5 years. Actually, probably even before that. My business partner, Grant Thomas and I run a software company called Ferocia. About 8 years ago we were looking for our next business opportunity and were thinking about raising some capital. We met a few people, and one day we got talking to the CEO of Bendigo Bank at the time. He asked if we could apply our technology expertise to banking, and we thought “why not?”.

They were looking for a new mobile banking platform, so we did a proof of concept which went really well, and then we ended up building the mobile and desktop banking platform that Bendigo customers use today. That’s how the relationship with Bendigo got started.

The platform was actually a huge success. We won multiple awards, pretty much #1 or #2 mobile banking platform in Australia every year for the last 4 years. But nobody knew it was built by Ferocia, people just assumed Bendigo built the platform themselves. The success of the Bendigo mobile banking platform led to work with one of the four major Australian banks.

 

 


 

 


 

Why Go With Bendigo For UP? Why Not A Big 4 Bank?

We worked on a project in Asia with a Big 4 Bank, to build a digital bank across 10 countries. From the time we first met them, to the time we finished up on the project we spent about two and a half years and it never got into a customers’ hands.

We worked with people from San Francisco, Hong Kong and Singapore, and spent a lot of time traveling. Then a new CEO arrived at the bank, and the strategy changed so their Asian business was dialled back, and the digital banking project was scrapped. I remember it was a Friday when we found out, because we had an important meeting with the banks head of International Business the following Monday, but the whole thing was shut down and the meeting never happened.

It’s a shame because Ferocia had dedicated about two and a half years of time, people, and energy into it. It could have been one of the earliest digital banks in the world, which would have been awesome.

What happened next was a reshuffle of the executives we worked with on the Asian digital bank. Some of them moved to the other Big Four banks. One of them, who was originally the sponsor of the project, called us up and asked if we wanted to work with them on a new digital bank for Australia.

So, Ferocia spent about 18 months working on that project in Sydney. Again, the product never got into customer’s hands, which was pretty disappointing. They decided to fund their internal core systems upgrade instead.

By this stage we’d spent about four years or so building digital banking technology and had developed a deep understanding of the banking sector, particularly in Australia, along the way but we never got to see any of our products in customers hands. As you can imagine, being a team of over achievers, we were deeply frustrated.

 

Want to feature on the Tier One People blog?

Contact [email protected]

 

Building A Digital Bank Isn’t Easy.

It seems to me like Australians generally have an aptitude for innovation, coupled with a deep-seeded frustration with banking. I think that’s why the first digital bank in the world, Simple, was started by an Aussie (Joshua Reich). Back in those days, another Aussie Brett King was also working on a digital bank called Moven (also in the US).

We were pretty inspired by what Josh had built, and a little disappointed Simple sold out to BBVA (a large Spanish bank). We actually met with Shamir (one of the Simple co-founders) and Brett King in Boston around mid-2014 and chatted with them about their experiences. At the time I remember thinking we should just build our own digital bank here in Australia.

Eventually we said, “Stuff it. Let’s do it.” There was just a few small problems like raising $100+ million, getting a core banking system up-and-running, and having a banking license! Not impossible, but pretty unlikely. Back in 2016, the Restricted Authorised Deposit-taking Institution banking licenses (RADIs) did not yet exist.

So we decided to go down a different path, and try to find the right relationship with an existing bank. Originally we’d thought that one of the majors might be interested, but we were pretty jaded by our previous experiences working with them. Bendigo bank was an easier conversation, since we had worked with them for more than 5 years and developed a lot of trust between us.

We learnt pretty quickly that you can’t just borrow a banking license! We spent about 12 months putting the legal structures and contracts in place, and in October 2017 Up went into production, as Australia’s first cloud hosted retail bank, on the Google Cloud Platform.

We ran Up for a year, initially trialling the platform with Ferocia staff, then we added Bendigo staff. Next, we extended the trial to family and friends, and then a small beta testing group. We ran a private invitation-only beta, and then a public beta with about 2,500 people in total. During that year we worked closely with Bendigo (and other stakeholders) to address regulation, compliance, risk, security, cloud hosting, etc before the official public launch of Up in October 2018.

 


 

 


 

How Successful Has Up Been Since Launching?

By February 2019 Up announced we had over 50,000 accounts and over 30,000 customers (some people open multiple accounts). At the time we were growing at between 500-1000 new customers per day.

We had anticipated decent traction, being the first to market and having the power of Bendigo behind Up, but the growth was still pretty amazing. It sort of went up from there…by May, just 8 months from public launch, we announced over 100,000 customers and were signing up over 1,000 customers per day.

It has been a pretty amazing ride so far. Up was top 10 in the App Store and Google Play store for finance apps in Australia for around 6 months. In early 2019 we did some benchmarking against other Australia’s banks, using publicly available information, and the data indicated Up was Australia’s second fastest growing bank at the time, behind CBA.

Which is pretty amazing, and meant we had overtaken the likes of ANZ, NAB, Westpac, ING, and Macquarie in terms of new customer acquisitions. This is around the time of year when ING announced record numbers in customer acquisitions, something like a 47% increase over the prior year.

So, you could say it’s going ok. Very well in fact!

 


 

What Is Your Secret To Such Rapid Growth?

That’s the secret sauce everyone is looking for. How do you get rapid growth and brand recognition, without spending a truck load on marketing, advertising, and promotion?

The broad growth strategy for new market entrants in banking has been proven with other digital banks around the world. Word of mouth, a strong referral network, and happy customers are the key channels for growth. Excellence in everything we do should not be underestimated.

Up delivers an awesome customer experience (both digital and physical), has great banking products in marketing that are competitively priced, we’re moving very fast with excellent technology and security, we provide almost instant in-app customer support with excellent customer service, and we have great branding and marketing. It’s the combination of all these things that makes Up a success. Not just one thing.

 

Twitter in particular is an amazing tool for growth and we’ve hardly spent a cent on advertising on the platform. ”

Dominic Pym. Co-Founder, UP Bank.

 

The Up Playbook – Growth Hacking For Digital Banks.

 

There’s been minimal paid digital promotion on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Google and so on. Social media is a very successful channel for us. It’s not so much that we are just spending money on advertising to potential customers.

That simply doesn’t work, especially for banks. We use social to communicate with customers, and then when they see a recommendation from one of their friends, or some advertising we’re running, it hits home. In our experience, that combination is much better than advertising alone.

Twitter is a fantastic tool to communicate with our customers. Not just me, but also our Head of Product, Head of Technology, Head of Design and the rest of the team are active on Twitter and other social media platforms.

But we certainly use it to respond to our customers and engage with them almost instantly every day. Having direct conversations with customers is amazing. It’s an education in itself, and worth more than any survey or focus group could ever hope to deliver. A tight feedback loop with customers is critical for any successful technology company.

With Facebook, we did spend some money, and we were able to acquire customers. You wouldn’t think a bank could acquire customers through Facebook, Snapchat, or Instagram. Well. Up does. It’s amazing that someone can get a message from their friend or see an Up ad on Facebook, then download the Up app and be set up in less than 3 minutes.

Sure, it sounds surreal, but it’s happening every day, hundreds and hundreds of times. We ran some pretty basic digital promotions, and combined with the high level of engagement and excellent design it kind of created a viral effect.

It‘s also been fascinating to watch people engage differently on each social media channel. On Facebook, for example, tens of thousands of people write about Up to their mates. They simply tag their friends in a post, and it’s like an endorsement that goes viral. With social media, we’ve been able to acquire a thousand customers a day, through a single social channel without doing anything much, simply because of the strength of the Up brand.

People love it. How many people in the world wear t-shirts, hats, badges, stickers, and merchandise for their bank? You don’t really see that too often in banking. But we get Up customers asking us every single day for merch through Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

 


 

How To Nail Experiential Marketing.

Experiential promotion and marketing has worked really well for us too. We’ll do industry events of course, like the Fintech Summit and Intersekt, where we might do a panel or a keynote or whatever. But we’ve actually had the most success with specific niche events.

For example, we’ve participated in university events, the Australian Graphic Design Association industry awards, and Pause (business and design) Festival in Melbourne. Probably our most successful event was PAX, which is a computer gaming event where they have 100,000 or so people attend over 3 days. We missed Sibos, because we were too busy doing PAX!

We decided rather than attend another industry event like Money 2020 or Sibos we would try a gaming event. PAX is actually the world’s biggest gaming conference. People dress up as their favourite video game character and play video games.

You wouldn’t think a bank would be there, but we were signing new accounts on the spot, giving away t-shirts, hats, and other merchandise. One of the things at PAX that really drove new customer sign-ups was challenging people to a game of Mario Kart!

 


 

The Up Team Challenging Customers To A Game Of Mario Kart!

 


The Up dev team built software to track each Mario Kart game and display the results on a real-time leader board. We love it, and obviously so do the people attending PAX. They could compete against the Up development team, and also each other. It was a big hit. We even had the Mario Kart world champion come and take part in the challenge. Two of our developers actually snuck in a couple of wins, but he beat them overall of course.

It was a fantastic event just to be part of, and winning new customers for Up was a bonus. Within a few days some of the those 100,000 passionate gamers not only knew about Up, they had played a game of Mario Kart with a co-founder, or our Head of Design, our Head of Technology, or one of the other developers from our team who built Up and Kartalytics. They became advocates, and recommended Up to their friends.

In my view, everyone at PAX who met us now thinks of Up as a totally different digital bank that lives in their world, in their community, not just a brand sponsoring an event.

We met one guy at PAX who used Up’s round-up feature to save up for his PAX ticket. It’s such a beautiful story. Here was someone passionate about gaming, using Up to realise their dream of attending the world’s biggest gaming event, and then meeting the Up team at PAX and challenging us to a game of Mario Kart while he was there.

It was kind of surreal, and we were so proud to have helped him, even in this small way.

 


 

Discover The Latest Opportunities In Fintech.

 


 

Tell Me More About The Team At Up.

When we launched Up we had just 29 people working full-time at Ferocia.

It’s always been a goal of ours to remain small and agile. Up is designed and developed by Ferocia, which is a nimble team of like-minded people headquartered in South Melbourne. We’re more like a family than a team. We set out to be the first in the world to launch a fully licensed and functional digital bank with less than 30 people. It’s amazing what the team has achieved, and of course we’ve had a great deal of help from our mates at Bendigo. We simply couldn’t have done it without them.

Compared to other overseas digital banks (like Monzo, Revolut, N26, Starling, and Simple for example), we’ve managed to remain quite small, while these companies all have hundreds of staff. Up was built on the hypothesis we could leverage technology and automation to deliver a digital bank with less than 30 people.

Of course, we can’t remain less than 30 people forever, but if we could, that would be awesome. Right now it’s about 10 months since Up’s public launch and we have added 6 people to our customer support crew and a few more engineers, so we’re now 37 people at Ferocia. Not too shabby. Especially considering we’re still building Australia’s fifth largest banking platform, and Australia’s first and largest mobile-only digital bank at the same time!

 


 

How Do You Describe The Culture Of Up?

People really are the secret to the success of Up. The culture, the family that we’ve created, the way that we bounce off each other, the way we work together, the way we collaborate and help each other, it’s the reason for the success of Up. And that extends to the relationship with Bendigo. They’ve been amazing. Just think about it for a minute. Bendigo is the fifth largest bank in Australia and they had the bravery to back Ferocia, to partner with us to deliver Up.

It’s a pretty incredible move for a major Australian bank to collaborate with a fintech and actually make it work. Nearly 2 years later, since we started the Up journey together, we’re still the only neobank that’s actually launched in Australia with licensed banking products and we now have over 100,000 customers. Turns out the collaboration was a great way to kick things off for Up, and a much better way to get to market quickly, compared to getting our own banking license.

 


 

Up Bank Launch
Anson Parker, Head Of Product is just one of the amazingly talented team at UP Bank.

 


 

How Do You Attract The Right Talent?

I think success in terms of our people can be distilled down to culture and recruitment. The way we hire people and the calibre of people we hire is key. We place a huge emphasis on skills within the team. Everybody is multi-talented. No-one is just doing a single specific role (like is often the case in larger teams).

We look for people with an inherent ability to learn on the job, and we aim to have several people who can perform each role. So when people are sick, or on leave, or when we lose a staff member, we can still deliver. This is mostly an engineering outcome (since we are mostly engineers) but it needs to apply equally across marketing, risk, security, compliance, technology, operations, cloud hosting, etc. for the team to remain small and succeed.

Every outcome we need to deliver for our customers should be able to be met by not just one or two or three people, but by as many people in the team as possible. I’m not saying that’s easy to achieve, but it’s certainly a hallmark of high performance teams.

Most of the team currently has one degree of separation. Generally speaking, most everyone that works here has worked with at least one team member before. We’ve got 10 people who’ve worked at Ferocia for more than five years, and five people who’ve worked with us at Ferocia and in other companies beforehand for more than 10 years.

Then there’s also the people we’ve worked with in the past who keep in touch. One person recently came back to work with us. He left our team almost 10 years ago to join Square in San Francisco. He’s been working there since then, and worked his way up to be Director of Payments Engineering . He recently moved back to Australia and came back on-board with our team (now at Ferocia obviously), which is awesome.

I’d like to think this speaks to the culture we’ve developed at Ferocia (and for Up more broadly), and says a lot about the calibre of the engineering team for someone like him to want to come back to Melbourne and work with us all again.

 

“It pays to treat people with mutual respect and help them throughout their life, not just because they are employees but because it’s the decent thing to do.”

Dominic Pym. Co-Founder, UP Bank.

 

You Won “Best Bank Collaboration” At This Year’s Finnies. What Do You Think Is The Best Approach To Building A Digital Bank?

Up is delivered through a collaboration between our technology company (Ferocia) and a licensed Australian bank (Bendigo and Adelaide Bank). Working with an existing bank to develop new financial products is not generally an easy process, but it has worked a few times before.

For example, when we looked at other digital banks like Simple in the US, they launched quickly through a partnership with BankCorp. But when BBVA bought Simple they spent the next couple of years transitioning core banking systems and didn’t really appear (from the outside) to be able to innovate or create new product.

Monzo also partnered with Wirecard when they first started, then when they received their own banking license they built their own core banking system. This seems like a smart move (again from the outside looking in). Certainly they were able to exert more control over system reliability, capability and upgrades by bringing the core system in-house. This is quite a different strategy than buying or licensing a core banking system. Building one in-house affords many advantages, and also many challenges.

 


 

What would you do differently next time around?

We believe Up has a strategic and competitive advantage by not having to build our own core banking system in the first instance, and certainly we were able to get to market quicker than anyone else in Australia has been able to, due to the collaboration between Bendigo and Ferocia.

That said, if we had our time again, we’d still partner with Bendigo for access to the licensed financial products, but we might want to build our own core banking system too. And that’s purely because of the amount of effort involved in building product in a legacy core banking system. In our view, a core banking system should essentially be a database of debits and credits. If you treat it in that way, innovation is possible outside of the core system, and the core system can be used solely as a regulatory ledger.

We also move a lot faster than anyone (other than us) thought was possible. We currently average more than 5 customer deployments (software updates) per day. That’s incredible for any technology company, and even more so for a bank. Nonetheless, I think we would still seriously consider building a core banking system if we had to start all over again.

 

We often hear people in the banking industry (including our competitors) saying, “you can’t build a digital bank on top of legacy systems”. Well you can, and we’ve done it.

Dominic Pym – Co-Founder UP Bank

 

Is Your Model Similar To That Of Apple And Goldman Sachs?

 

People have commented that the Apple Card app has similar functionality to Up. I find it quite flattering that the greatest technology and innovation company ever is following in our footsteps! I say that a little tongue in cheek. We obviously work closely with Apple here in Australia and have done a lot of first-mover stuff with them here, including instant in-app issuance of Apple Pay, proximity set up for Apple Watch, push notifications with merchant identification, Siri voice control, and more.

I would say the model Apple has chosen, in partnering with Goldman Sachs, is similar to the Up model where Ferocia (a tech company) partnered with Bendigo (a bank) to deliver Up. Apple is certainly a technology company delivering a superior customer experience, and from what I can tell they seem pretty happy leaving the utility banking stuff to Goldmans.

It’s all about the customer experience and excellence in the delivery of customer service, and we all know that Apple leads the world in doing just that. Even if the interest rate is not attractive (which it’s not), it doesn’t really matter, it’s going to be the easiest card in the world to use and that’s what matters.

Neobanks all over the world are selling financial services in pretty much the same way every bank has done for over 100 years. Create a financial product, price it, then sell it to consumers through “channels” (digital or otherwise). What consumers really want, in our view, are products to power their lives. They don’t want to be sold more banking products, that’s the last thing anyone wants.

Let’s say you want to buy a car, for example. Do customers care if there’s a savings product, an insurance product, a loan product, and a transaction account all powering that service? Or do they care about the experience? Apple will totally nail the customer experience.

 

I’m happy to go on record saying that Apple has the platform and the ability to acquire more customers than any bank in history, ever.

Dominic Pym. Co-Founder, UP Bank.

The interest rate on the Apple Card may be high, but customers might not even pay interest, if the service helps them pay off the debt within the interest free period. Anyone in banking who thinks that Apple Card won’t make an impact because it’s “just a credit card geared to millennials” is perhaps naive and missing the point.

The experience Apple delivers is the real threat to the way people bank, which in essence is banking reimagined. That will most certainly have an impact on the banking sector and consumer expectations from banks, particularly the quality of their digital experience.

 


 

Do You Class Up As A Bank Or A Technology Firm?

From day one Up has positioned itself as delivering technology-led banking versus banking-led technology. I don’t know whether there will be other banks around the world positioning themselves as a technology company. But that’s what Ferocia is. It’s what we do, and it’s what we’re good at.

For example, prior to launch we set ourselves the goal of five software updates (deployments) for customers per day. In November last year we hit our peak of 10 times per day and we’re currently averaging 6 times per day.

Our entire cloud-hosted banking platform can be deployed in 45 seconds. A full regression test of every single device, every single operating system, every single-use case in the entire application is completed within 26 minutes.

We can do that twice in an hour, which is around 50 times every day. Of the 50 possible customer deployments we can do in a day, we currently get five or more of them out to customers who then get an iterative, improving Up app every single day. I’m not certain of many other tech companies in any industry in the world that can talk about that level of iteration and innovation.

Some of our other technology innovations and security are second to none. We pride ourselves on outage-less deploys so our customers experience less down-time, we have a completely different security model to most other banks we know where we encrypt every transmission end-to-end and have done away with the need for a traditional username and password. Up simply works, is secure and uses on-device capabilities such as biometrics and the secure enclave to ensure customer data is protected.

 

“From day one Up has positioned itself as delivering technology-led banking versus banking-led technology.”

Dom Pym. Co-Founder, UP Bank.

 

Transparency Is Key To Customer Experience.

We communicate openly and transparently with our customers about what we’re building and when we’ll deliver it. In fact, the Up roadmap is available publicly. We call it the “Tree of Up” and it helps our customers to self-serve when it comes to asking us when we’ll deliver new features, and it also holds us accountable for delivery.

Being customer-centric and design-led are also hallmarks of the great technology companies disrupting other industries (such as Skype in telecoms, Netflix in entertainment, Uber in taxis, Amazon in retail, and AirBnB in hotels, for example). We don’t see any reason why banking would be any different.

A technology-led approach has significant advantages over traditional banking-led incumbents and ex-bankers now running neobanks. The thinking and approach to solving problems and delivering excellence in digital products and services to customers is completely different. Being technology-led is a way of thinking, and it means a whole deal more than simply excellence in engineering, that is just one component (albeit an essential one).

 


 

What Plans Are There For Up Over The Next 12 Months?

Right now Up has focused on spending and savings products. We wanted to get to market relatively quickly and deliver the highest quality products in Australia. We’ve pretty much done that, and now we are looking at some product breadth and additional partnership announcements coming soon. The most popular requests from customers are mostly “table stakes” type of features (things like BPay and joint accounts).
You can see all these kinds of features on our public roadmap.

Because Up operates under a full banking license it’s possible for us to continually expand and improve Up’s product breadth over time. Eventually we’d also like for Up to offer other financial products customers want and use (like credit cards, mortgages, insurance, superannuation, share trading, and more). But the way we offer those type of services is likely to be different, more innovative and better than what is currently available.

The products announced by the likes of major international players like Transferwise, Square, Apple, and others, are similar in nature to the digital products we’ve had in development at Up for some time now. But we’d expect to launch products in Australia before they do.

We’ve experienced rapid growth in terms of customer numbers, deposits and transaction volumes, but at the same time we’ve also been developing our product roadmap. We get hundreds of inquiries from customers every day with product ideas through social media, and through our in-app support channel (Talk to Us). Many of these feature requests find their way onto the Tree of Up.

 

UP Bank
View The “Tree Of Up” https://up.com.au/blog/the-tree-of-up/
Follow UP Bank @up_banking and #upyeah

Speaking of the Tree of Up, we think it’s quite unique, certainly in banking, and even in technology circles more broadly. Pretty much the next 6 to 12 months of Up’s product development is publicly available. Customers can click on the different branches and see what we’re currently working on. The roadmap is our best way of communicating to customers who we are, what it is we do, and why.

We believe doing is the best way we can delight our customers, rather than talking about what we’re gonna do. Consistent delivery demonstrates our commitment to our customers, and it hasn’t gone unnoticed. Simply because we’re delivering improvements every single day, customers are always tweeting, posting. instagramming, and otherwise sharing new Up features – which is awesome and helps to maintain momentum and expand awareness. In effect, engagement is part of our product.

We also have a bunch of new innovations we like to keep rolling out. As an example, we recently launched our unique “Pull-to-Save” feature. Some people have said it’s like the gamification of saving for a whole new generation of Australians, which has been nailed by that one feature. Which is an amazing compliment. Internally, there were originally some reservations about launching the “Pull-to-Save” feature.

How would customers react? Should we be focussed on delivering traditional products, like BPay and joint accounts, credit cards, and home loans? Fair question. But for the team at Up, being able to change the decision-making and savings habits of an entire generation is a loftier goal.

 


 

 

 

Leda Glyptis – 11:FS
Maybe Australia’s proximity to Asia is the game changer. Do Aussie Fintech’s use all their resources taking on the Big 4 banks, or do they put the same energy into Asia?

As CEO of 11:FS Foundry, Leda is at the forefront of innovation in open banking. She’s also Chief of Staff for 11:FS Group, a specialist digital financial services firm that is reinventing what providing advisory, technology and design services to the banking community looks like.

Leda is a renowned speaker, writer and academic in banking and fintech, and an expert in digital disruption, strategy and financial technology. She was recently named in the top 50 Senior Female Leaders in Global Fintech. Tier One People CEO, Dexter Cousins caught up with Leda to talk all things 11:FS and Will.I.am?!

Leda, most people here in Australia know 11:FS through the Fintech Insider podcast. Can you explain how 11:FS work?

At a high level, 11:FS is essentially a set of capabilities united by a common purpose. What do I mean by that? We have structured the business very deliberately around the way customers engage with and purchase financial services in the digital age.

Our business model consists of Media (content, podcast and events), Research and Benchmarking (market, product and competitor analysis), Consulting Services and the Foundry Platform. We build digitally native propositions for banks and financial institutions. As an example, we launched Mettle, an SME challenger proposition delivered for NatWest.

The Executive Leadership Team at 11:FS are ex bankers. Remembering back to when we worked in large banks, when it came to innovation, there would be regular meetings where everyone got excited by the question ‘Wouldn’t it cool if ….?’

Sadly, few if any of the ideas ever came to realisation. 11:FS exists to help financial services firms bring these ideas to life and build entirely new propositions with a digital first approach. We are a completely different kind of consultancy because our focus is on execution. And we spend our client’s money like it was our own, with every single dollar budgeted for up front.

 

Can you tell me more specifically about 11:FS Foundry?

11:FS Foundry is a game changing banking platform we are building in partnership with DNB bank. Today’s banking systems were built in the past and for the past. They worked in their day, but they’re no longer fit for purpose in the digital age. The Royal Commission in Australia highlighted many of the problems legacy systems create for large financial institutions.

Banks are spending billions keeping their legacy architecture on life support rather than truly transforming their services. Why? Because changing a core banking platform is staggeringly expensive, time-consuming and risky. We built 11:FS Foundry to enable banks to modernise systems without needing to replace everything at once. It is a ledger first core banking platform with a modular stack. Which gives technology teams agility and flexibility, they can add modules as and when they need them.

The platform will launch soon. And the partnership with DNB is working beyond our expectations. We are really excited and see huge potential for 11:FS Foundry as we enter a new era of open banking.

 

“Maybe Australia’s proximity to Asia is the game changer. Do Aussie Fintech’s use all their resources taking on the Big 4 banks, or do they put the same energy into Asia?”

 

Australia plans to launch open banking in July this year. What potential opportunities do you see down under?

That is a tough question. Open Banking should, in theory, create more competition. But I think it would be unwise to look at the UK and expect things to play out the same way in Australia.

Australia has 4 banks sharing 85% of the market. That kind of influence makes it very difficult for challenger banks, Neo Banks and Fintechs to pose a significant threat. International banks with deeper pockets have tried and failed to crack the Australian market. It isn’t easy.

Maybe Australia’s proximity to Asia is the game changer. Do Aussie Fintech’s use all their resources taking on the Big 4 banks, or do they put the same energy into Asia? It is a far bigger market. When I was last in Sydney for Sibos, the level of innovation in areas like RegTech, Data and Identity impressed me.

 


 

Many people in the Fintech industry first got to know 11:FS through the Fintech Insider podcast. Has it been key to the rapid growth of the business?

The podcast recently hit 300 episodes. It definitely builds our profile, but it also builds a vibrant community much beyond our brand. In fact, the greatest benefit of the podcast is the community we’ve built. The 11:FS community is global and the show is a great vehicle to share our message. But, if you listen to the podcasts, it is not about us. It is about the people in the industry, it’s about the community, it’s about giving Fintech’s a platform, a voice.

And for people in the banking industry the show helps by cutting through the noise and demystifying what is a confusing period. There is more noise in the industry than ever. Blockchain, AI, Fintech, Crypto, Cyber Security, Open Banking, API’s; Banking executives rightly feel confused. So, the podcast is a platform to share insights, knowledge and ideas.

As an example, we hosted AfterDark, an evening event at Level 39 in London. Over 200 guests turned up. A guest I invited (a highly influential global banker) came to me afterwards and said “I don’t know what impressed me most. The fact that so many people turned up in the awful weather. Or, the fact there are so many influential and heavy hitting people from Banking and Fintech in the room.”

Banking executives clearly want to embrace change and innovation. But they need the right information, insights and strategies. Do they get the right strategies from traditional consultancies? Or do they turn to 11:FS who know Fintech and have built digital banks like Monzo?

We believe that Digital Banking is only 1% finished. There is so much more we can do and are doing for our clients.

 

What attracted you to 11:FS?

The Co-Founders and I had known each other for a couple of years before me coming on board. We would regularly bump into each other at industry events or when I was a guest on the Fintech Insider podcast. It was clear we shared similar views on how digital banking should be done.

So, when David approached me, it just seemed like a natural next step. He is an inspiring leader and he has created a simple culture and philosophy that resonates. Importantly for me, it’s a high-performance culture, modelled on sports, teamwork and winning. But it is not a ‘win at all costs’ mentality. We have one golden rule ‘don’t be a dick’. It sounds simple, but regularly reminding ourselves of this one sentence nips arguments and politics in the bud.

At 11:FS I get to work with and meet amazing people. Had you told me a year ago I would get to interview Will.I.am, I’d have laughed. The velocity at which we are moving is unlike anything I have experienced.

 

Which people tend to be successful at 11:FS?

People with principles, passion and positivity. This is a high-performance culture where we work on outcomes and results. You have to believe in a particular way of working. We work in small teams, taking the sports team philosophy by bringing together people with complimentary technical skills and ability. We’ve assembled experienced banking, fintech and insurance leaders, alongside outstanding talent from start-ups, consultancies and agencies.

11:FS is unlike anywhere I have ever worked. It has been a wild ride so far. I joined 11:FS in September 2018. On day two I flew to Oslo to meet the DNB team and pick up my part of the negotiations that led to our current partnership. The negotiations were at an advanced stage when I came on board and it was great to have the team’s faith to jump right in.

This past 6 months have been the most exhilarating of my career.

A lot of people could find it daunting. People in Banking tend to think Fintech is sexy, fun, innovative. But the reality can be very different. It’s extremely tough work. We are at the leading edge of innovation, so most times it feels like we are building the plane as we are flying it.

We have an eclectic bunch here. Creatives, marketers, product, tech. Smart and driven people. We are now 150 staff and growing fast. A lot of people approach us direct because they follow the podcast, get excited by the work we do and feel a connection. But we are just like any rapidly scaling business. We need a measured approach to Talent Acquisition and it is hard to find the right people when you are growing at scale. We are always open to people approaching us if they share our philosophy.

 


 

Check out Careers @ 11:FS

 


 

Leda, people consider you an ‘Influencer’ in fintech and you write regularly sharing advice. Who has been the greatest influence on your career?

First of all let me say, I find it an honour people read my work. But it’s my belief that you influence by doing, not by talking. The greatest influence on my career is Adriana Pierelli, my old mentor at BNY Mellon. She was the person who backed me when I launched the innovation division at BNY. At the time it felt like everyone was mocking me as I got excited by APIs and the possibilities they could bring to the business. Adriana believed. And opened the door for me to prove myself. All we need is an opportunity and a little bit of faith. And she gave me both. There are two life lessons I took from Adriana.

1)      Practical Impact. You must make things happen.

2)      Pay things forward.

It is so important to help people along the journey. To give your time, advice, connections. The platform I have been given is a privilege, meaning I can help more people than ever. That is the great thing about the 11:FS tribe. The Fintech Insiders show takes a lot of time, energy, money and resources to produce. But we do it for free because we truly believe in paying things forward and making digital banking better.

 


 

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Martin McCann – Trade Ledger

2019 was a breakthrough year for Trade Ledger. 2020 promises to be even bigger as open banking creates the perfect set of conditions for the Trade Ledger platform to take off.

Dexter Cousins of Tier One People caught up with CEO and Co-Founder Martin McCann in Sydney recently to talk open banking and Lending as a Service.

 

What kind of FinTech is Trade Ledger?

Trade Ledger is a banking platform technology designed to help banks and large non-bank lenders provide any type of credit to businesses and corporations around the world.

We have built a global platform, technology which can be instantly deployed in any country. Matt Born (co-founder) and I come from Enterprise Technology backgrounds. Trade Ledger came into being because we both wanted build what we call a ‘true platform’. We see a lot of FinTech’s claiming to provide platforms which in our view are nothing more than technology stacks for a specific product. These are not true industry platforms.

Enterprise Software, which is essentially what we do, is one of the most complex and difficult markets in business. We’ve been building Trade Ledger for a market which didn’t even exist when we set up the company. Globally the market we operate in is estimated as a $4 Trillion opportunity. Just the undersupply of credit for businesses globally is $2 trillion. That is the extent to which businesses are underserved with lending and capital. We call it ‘Lending as a Service.’ Nobody used the term when we set the business up two-and-half years ago.

 

Can you tell me how LaaS works?

Essentially LaaS is the outsourcing of the IT and operational requirements for the bank when it comes to lending. Typically, for a business to apply to a bank anywhere in the world for a line credit the average time to process the application is 90 days.

There’s about 30 hours of manual work for the customer plus 300 emails and 500 calls involved.

Trade Ledger eliminates the manual processes using API’s and accessing the banks data, completing the whole process in four minutes without a single document filled out.

 

What do you attribute to your success so far?

Matt and I followed our own path when we started the business. Trade ledger was incorporated in August 2016 and we were supremely confident we were building the right solution at the right time for the right market. Joining forces is the first thing we got right. What Matt, the team and I are doing is really, really hard and you need at least two co-founders to tackle all of the challenges ahead.

The combination of us working together has proven to be a real positive for the company and our personal lives. Matt and I both have extensive experience in enterprise software. We both worked at SAP and we witnessed software disruption in other sectors, it was only a matter of time before the same would happen in banking.

The blueprint was already there from other industries, it was just a case of applying the strategy to the right niche. Forming our partnership, our timing and product market fit are the keys to our success so far.

Discover your next challenge – https://tieronepeople.com/jobs-in-fintech/

Can you tell me more about the Trade Ledger business?

The business is now over 20 people, evenly split between London and Sydney. We’ve almost doubled the size of the company in the last three to four months. We are delighted with the ‘firepower’ we have hired into the business.

Firstly, we managed to find really high calibre senior engineers, the kind of people we think are potential game changers. In London, we’ve hired a CFO who is highly respected in the VC community. He will help turbo charge the growth of the business. We are embarking on Series A funding, having a CFO of the calibre we have is essential.

All this adds to the great talent we already have.

We don’t want a development center, and operational offices, we’re trying to keep uniformity across the offices. Fundamentally I believe three things will give Trade Ledger long-term differentiation, in the market-place.

The people in the organisation

The culture of the organisation

And what I call the velocity, are we moving fast enough in the right direction?

I don’t know if we are moving fast enough in the right direction yet, but we are accelerating.

 

What makes the culture of Trade Ledger unique?

The culture is very important to us. Matt and I have almost identical values and business ethics. Transparency is key to us, in terms of our business relationships and our people. We firmly believe when you’re trying to grow something this new, this quickly, you are going to break things, frequently.

It’s what you do when you realise you’re going in the wrong direction, or you’ve broken something which counts. And recognising which things you can break and what you absolutely have to get right.

Living by this ethos creates a culture of high performance which is the edge for a company like ours. Frankly, the banks struggle to attract the kind of people required for a high growth, exciting tech startup like Trade Ledger.

So, banks will have to partner with Fintech’s to access the talent, innovation and execution required for this next paradigm of business we are entering. Big organisations just cannot achieve the velocity required to keep up with the pace of innovation today.

 

What do you look for in the people you hire?

Primarily values and attitude. We don’t focus on people’s experience or their background, we focus on whether or not they would fit well with the team or will they be disruptive in the team. We love diversity. It does cause some challenges. The nature of diversity means it’s harder to evaluate how someone will fit, in the context of values and ethics.

And then the other thing we look for is high potential or high propensity for success. What we’ve found is interesting. People who are under-experienced, properly motivated and show high potential are a much better fit for this organisation than people who’ve got proven experience.

People with high potential fit our culture and the way we work. They want to get ahead quickly, they appreciate the opportunity to be able to contribute and to learn. And they understand the value it creates for them as an asset that differentiates them in the market.

 


 

Trade Ledger

 

 


 

What prompted your move to London?

A good question. Can I say, it’s really nice to be back in Sydney in the heat. From our perspective, Sydney is a great place to start a company. There’s a lot of benefits to be found in the FinTech ecosystem but there are limitations.

The market itself is relatively small, compared to other markets globally. With our ambition to be a global software company, we don’t see significant market penetration in Australia. Banks in Europe and North America don’t see Australia as a market with enough scale, so it is difficult to get credibility as a global player being based from Sydney.

Why choose London? After some consideration and research, the legislative changes in Europe and open banking in the UK made London the ideal launch pad for the Trade Ledger platform.

There’s massive investment from the banking sector in open banking technology, which from our perspective, is just API-based platform technology. The most innovative global bank transformation programs are happening in London. Lloyds alone has five transformation programs running, which, have a multi-year program budget of over 2.5 billion pounds. That’s the scale of transformation technology that’s happening in Europe and it’s hard to find anything comparable happening anywhere in Australia.

If we want to be a global company, we have to win the European market and more specifically the London market. Open banking, GDPR and other legislative changes have created a seismic shift to data-driven lending in the business bank and SME funding market-place.

 

The UK is now 12 months into open banking. What are the potential opportunities here in Australia?

The UK market has been really interesting, and for us, it’s great to have a ring-side seat to the first real implementation of open banking.

Year one was all about fixing the problems with the original scope, specification and approach to open banking. It went live late and there were a couple of issues with the implementation.

The challenge is shifting a heavily regulated market to a technology-driven business model in a record amount of time, it’s never been done before. All of the interested parties are struggling to keep up.

The regulators are finding it particularly difficult to figure out what to do when things go wrong. Liability, specifically the daisy chaining of liability and how to manage it, is turning out to be a significant problem. I think everyone has underestimated how big a shift this was going to be.

Discover your next challenge – https://tieronepeople.com/jobs-in-fintech/

What can Australia learn from UK Open Banking?

Australia being number two into open banking is perfectly positioned to come up with the best capability in the world. It is a highly ambitious plan to implement open data across all industries. Conceptually this is where the market needs to go to.

The Australian market has perhaps underestimated the difficulty of implementation challenges. Something of this scale needs a very strong governance process. It needs to have a very, very high degree of consultation with all of the stakeholder groups.

My fear is the original scope could be thwarted, and open data never actually achieves the ambition outlined in the original agenda. Specifically creating competition in banking.

I wrote an article outlining my fears, published in the AFR. From the feedback I received, maybe people misunderstood my intention. I do not advocate any particular solution, Trade Ledger will prosper regardless of what Open Banking journey Australia chooses. I feel strongly that we need to have the right discussion about the national interest, because this is a once-in-a-generational opportunity Australia can’t afford to get wrong.

If Australia gets open banking right, it is my firm belief we can export financial services to other countries on a scale rivalling the mining industry. And if we get it wrong, then the opposite is true. Digital financial services does not observe national borders. Regulation, which once protected national markets has now become a grey area.

 

What does the future hold for Trade Ledger?

We are in advanced discussions with significant global banks. It is a distinct change in strategy for us. There is a much higher risk involved and a lot more investment up front.

If Trade Ledger is to become what we intended from day one, a global top three in the category, then it’s the direction we need to go in. We don’t shy away from risk or challenges, we embrace them, and we work harder, faster, and smarter to try and move in the direction we want to go.

 

Discover your next challenge – https://tieronepeople.com/jobs-in-fintech/

Andy Taylor – Douugh

We are laser focused on building a ‘smart’ banking experience that will change people’s relationship with money for the better – fostering financial wellness.

Andy Taylor – CEO, Dough.

Andy Taylor is an Aussie FinTech pioneer. He is one of the original founders of Society One, bringing peer to peer lending to the Australian market. Andy’s latest venture, Douugh is his most ambitious project yet, a next gen Neo Bank with an AI first approach. Set to launch in the US through a partnership with Choice Bank, Douugh announced a partnership with Regional Australia Bank just this week.

Tier One People CEO, Dexter Cousins brings you this exclusive interview!

What does ‘next gen’ Neobank mean?

Unlike ‘traditional’ Neobanks, who are taking a mobile first approach and applying for their own banking licences to sell traditional bank products. Douugh is a technology company taking an AI first approach to building a proprietary software platform, partnering with a bank to provide it with deposit taking capabilities and a balance sheet. The company is pioneering a new business model focused around delivering financial wellness for it’s customers.

Is it a similar arrangement to your partnership in the US with Choice Bank?

Correct, it allows us to offer a fully insured bank account and Mastercard debit card, without the need to become a licenced bank ourselves. This frees us up to focus on building out a technology company, innovating on the customer experience software layer through an AI first approach, utilising open API’s.

How did the partnership come about? Was it difficult to find/select the right partner?

It’s been very difficult and time consuming to find the right partner in Australia. We wanted to find someone who respected our independence, shared our values and capable of supporting our ambitious product and growth plans.

Just so I don’t explain it incorrectly … would a Douugh customer in Australia be opening an account with Regional Australia Bank? Can you explain the arrangement to me in layman’s terms please?

Correct, it’s ultimately a wholesale partnership. The Douugh branded bank account will be ‘issued’ by Regional Australia Bank on the backend, customers funds will be held by them, protected by the government guarantee on deposits upto $250,000. The entire customer experience is managed by us through our mobile app and customer support centre.

This is a similar commercial partnership model to what Up has with Bendigo Bank. Meaning, we act as an ‘authorised representative’ of a bank, rather than getting our own banking licence. The partnership with RAB is very much the missing piece. The ability to offer a fully insured bank account and debit card means we can now launch in Australia.

Do you expect HENRYs (High Earner Not Rich Yet) to migrate away from Big Four banks to Douugh?

We do expect people to dip their toe in the water initially to test our technology and gauge the impact it will have on their daily lives. I think we will need to work hard to win the right to people’s salary deposits. We believe people will hold multiple bank accounts in the future.

The battle ground is winning the right to the salary deposit and everyday expenditure. We do allow customers to connect their existing bank accounts and credit cards, so we can give them a 360 degree view to truly understand their financial position. This is where the strategy of becoming the ‘financial control centre’ for our customers becomes very important.

Why do you think Douugh will appeal particularly to this demographic?

We are laser focused on building a ‘smart’ banking experience that will change people’s relationship with money for the better – fostering financial wellness.

People now expect transparency, insight, personalisation and autonomy. They want to understand the opportunity cost of their financial decisions today and what it means for their future, delivered through a seamless, intuitive and frictionless experience.

Banks today do not offer this. They are analogue in their offering, and are not incentivised to offer this kind of service and business model, as they are bogged down by legacy systems and operational models, totally reliant on pushing traditional credit products to deliver short-term profitability, as opposed to generating positive financial outcomes for their customers, taking a longer term view.

People are now aware of this (as exposed by the Royal Commission), and are looking to technology to help them. We believe this sentiment is consistent around the world.

And is that the same for the US and Australia?

Ultimately, it’s about understanding people’s emotional drivers. Money is one of the most powerful forces behind emotional state of mind, and the majority of people’s relationship with money is based on fear and anxiety. We plan to tap into this in a positive way and change the narrative, supporting and educating our customers to get ahead and achieve their goals. So, they can live happier and healthier lives. Rather than be bogged down, living paycheck to paycheck .

This is where we see our AI assistant Sophie really playing a positive role and forever changing the game. Taking on the responsibility of a frictionless, autonomous money manager. Working on behalf of our customers to make money work for them, not the other way around.

We believe this will have a major and lasting impact on society as a whole. This is the legacy I want to leave behind.

Douugh Smart Banking

 

Do you have any indication yet of likely demand for Douugh?

We have strong demand in the US from the little marketing and PR we have done, with thousands of people signed up to our waitlist.

We have started to raise our awareness in Australia via our partnership with Crowdfunding platform Equitise. We aim to build a foundation community. With thousands signed up on our waitlist so far. We will look to ramp up our pre-launch marketing efforts from here on in.

Are we likely to see the Australian accounts open this year? Is there a sense of urgency with other neo banks on the scene?

We are targeting a late Q4 launch this year. Yes the space is hotting up, and we are keen to cut our teeth in this market because it is our home, and we believe Australia (like the US), has a very big problem to solve in terms of the spiralling household debt levels and overall financial health.

Importantly, we view Australia as a key strategic market for R&D purposes, as it is continues to lead the way in mobile payment adoption in the western world.

Is it hard to explain to potential customers the unique selling point of Douugh versus other options? What is the main hook you think that will get people over the line?

Not really, I believe it is much easier for us as we don’t need to get distracted by the fact that we are wanting to be a bank. Becoming a bank does not solve the problem. We have a much more succinct, purpose based marketing message and mission than other ‘Neobanks’.

The hook is that we are looking to pioneer a new business model to make the world financially healthier through a proprietary software platform. We are helping people pay off debt, spend less, save and build wealth autonomously via a ‘smart’ bank account offering, powered by AI.

How is the crowdfunding going? Why did you go via the crowdfunding route rather than the more commonly used VC route?

The crowdfunding is going really well, demand is strong. We wanted to use it as a vehicle to attract a foundation customer base and community in Australia that are passionate about our cause and business. We see this as a better fit at this stage in our lifecycle.

We are on a path to list on the ASX this year, this funding round will allow us to staff up to launch and scale the US business.

How do you view the potential for Douugh in comparison to when you when you founded SocietyOne?

We see much bigger potential for Douugh, as we are operating this as a global banking platform from day one, beginning in the US. The opportunity is obviously significantly larger as we scale up in this market and beyond. Everyone needs a bank account!

We truly believe we can scale to reach 100 million customers by 2030 and we are motivated to show the world that Australia can produce world class consumer technology companies.

Does this feel like unfinished business for you in any way, as SocietyOne came along with a mission to knock the majors off their perches.

Very much so. I’ve always been driven to build a global consumer software company that structurally disrupts the status quo. The mission was always to provide consumers a better experience than offered by the banks, with a business model that is aligned to positive financial outcomes. With Douugh, we are building a product that is co-created with customers from a passionate community.

11:FS talks Aus FinTech

If you aren’t following 11:FS then you simply ain’t into FinTech. A game changing digital consultancy for Banks and FS, a ground breaking banking platform in Foundry and publishers of the #1 Podcast FinTech Insider.

In the latest episode, a cheeky question by our very own Dexter Cousins sparked a healthy debate on the emerging Australian FinTech scene. Hosts David M. Brear, Jason Bates and Sarah Kocianski share some interesting views. What is undisputed is the world is taking notice of Aus FinTech!

AWESOME – listen to the podcast

Douugh partners with Bank

Our friends at Douugh, made a major announcement signing a long-term strategic partnership agreement with Regional Australia Bank.  The bank will become Douugh’s sponsor bank partner in Australia and challenge the dominance of the ‘Big Four’ banks.

On a mission to democratise banking globally, Douugh is building a ‘smart’ bank account designed to help customers live financially healthier, thanks to Sophie – its AI personal financial assistant. The agreement with Regional Australia Bank follows a global strategic innovation partnership announcement with Mastercard at the end of 2018 and a sophisticated raise on leading Equity Crowdfunding platform Equitise which remains live until February.

Douugh’s smart mobile banking app, will offer a Mastercard debit card and suite of everyday banking functionality, as well as multiple enhanced and unique features – focused on helping users pay off debt, spend less, save and build wealth. Sophie offers real time insights and guidance, learning how you spend money and understanding your goals to help you get ahead.

AI Powered Neo Banking

Currently in beta testing in the U.S, Douugh is gearing up for rapid growth. Launching first in the U.S market next month, with Australia set to follow later in the year. Douugh is fast becoming one of Australia’s most promising international fintechs.

“We are thrilled to be partnering with Regional Australia Bank, who share our cultural values and vision on helping Australians become financially healthier”, says Andy Taylor, Douugh’s Founder & CEO.

With an initial focus on the global millennial market, Taylor believes the sweet spot of the Millennial demographic for early adoption of Douugh, are the HENRY (High Earner Not Rich Yet) segment.

“This segment is ready to plan for their future and start accumulating wealth. This is where Douugh can educate and automate their finances, and alleviate the stress involved. Helping them live financially healthy by still enjoying the now while planning for their future,” he said.

“We believe the future of banking is about platform, data and identity. Our ultimate goal is to become the financial control centre, where people’s finances are managed on autopilot.

“Technology and the pioneering of a new platform based business model, will be the key differentiators in winning customers from the major banks and it will be the true fintechs with global scale that will ultimately be best placed to capture market share in the long-term,” says Taylor.

Regional Australia Bank CEO Kevin Dupé says, “Douugh has a big focus on customer financial well-being and this aligns perfectly with our approach. With our industry continuing to evolve at pace, we are excited to be partnering with Douugh and help take such a cutting edge technology platform to market”.

Douugh is currently closing out a $5m crowdfunding offer to wholesale investors on the Equitise platform. For more information visit www.equitise.com

Watch out for our exclusive and in depth interview with Douugh founder FinTech NextGen 012 – Andy Taylor

Sibos 2018 – The Rise of FinTech

FinTech comes of age in Australia at Sibos 2018.

As Sibos 2018 comes to a close and the worlds biggest players in banking head home the event can be considered a huge success, especially for FinTech. Sibos is the worlds premiere financial services event and what an event it is. 7000 banking and financial services professionals from across the globe gathered. With Money 20:20 taking place in Vegas at the same time the turn out was incredible.

Australian FinTech partnered with Tier One People to cover the four day event.

A dedicated Fintech exhibition, The Discovery Zone drew huge crowds. Innotribe, presented the worlds foremost experts on Blockchain, AI, Quantum Computing and Open Banking. The Oceania Lounge, hosted by FinTech Australia showcased some of the brightest emerging FinTech startups to the 7000 attendees.

FinTech thought leaders such as Ghela Boskovich, Dr. Leda Glyptis (exclusive TOP interview coming soon), Tony Fish and Brett King could all be seen engaging with some of the most visionary FinTech founders from the US, Asia, Israel, Europe and the UK.

The calibre of Fintech businesses and talent on show was outstanding.

My fondest memories of the week are the friendships that have developed with some of the very best people in FinTech. Straight shooting visionaries like Leda Glyptis and Ghela Boskovich think Australia has potential to become world pioneers in areas like Open Banking. They are genuinely excited by the talent and tech on show.

VC firms are actively pursuing Australian FinTech’s who are considered advanced in RegTech and Compliance technology. I expect to see more overseas investors look to Australia in 2019.

Sibos presented an opportunity to put Australian FinTech on the map and everyone involved has delivered. Congratulations to FinTech Australia and a special mention to Rebecca Schot-Guppy who is doing an incredible job as interim CEO. You really have done the FinTech community proud, Rebecca, muchos respect!


FinTech Ashes?

A UK FinTech delegation led by Alastair Lukies (Theresa May’s Ambassador for FinTech) and the UK Department of Trade added a little bit of spice and rivalry. The UK is almost 12 months into Open Banking and there is so much we can learn from our UK cousins. In many areas Australian FinTech is catching up to the UK. There is a golden opportunity to make Australia the FinTech gateway to Asia if we approach the next 12 months in teh right way.

I spent the week getting to know many of the UK delegation and there is a real desire to collaborate and leverage opportunities. A breakfast forum on open banking covered many areas of the consumer data right, which creates even more complexity to the debate (which is becoming very heated here in Australia.)

Andrew Stephens of the Data Standards Council was astute enough to point out, while banks and FinTech’s jostle over open banking, the consumer (who’s data they are fighting over) seems to have been forgotten about.

The work of Tess Thomas and Odette Hampton and the rest of the team from UK Department of Trade is highly commendable. It is fantastic to see so much energy and enthusiasm to build the FinTech Bridge, attracting investment and capital for both nations.


Own the relationship or partner with a big bank!

The Discovery stage was standing room only as the hottest topics were covered. Van Le (Xinja), Steve Weston (Volt Bank) and Robert Bell (:86400) debated challenger banks, open banking and how to win customers from the big banks. Personally I can’t wait for 2019 when challenger banks will finally launch.

Simon Lee, Co-Founder of Assembly Payments gave a straightforward account of partnering successfully with an incumbent bank. Exciting times for Assembly as they go through a period of rapid growth and the partnership with Westpac pays off. Simon is a top guy and is spending a lot of his time in the US talking to potential partners and VC.

For many FinTech businesses, partnering with a bank is the fastest and often times the only path to success. There has been some friction in previous years with banks being accused of ‘innovation theatre’. At Sibos 2018 banks were ready to do business and a number of FinTech’s we talked to were in advanced talks with documents signed and commercial terms being drawn up.

The energy at Sibos was so exhilarating that even an overnight 10% tanking of the markets didn’t seem to dampen spirits!


KPMG FinTech 100.

KPMG and H2 Ventures announced the FinTech 100. Coincidentally three of Australia’s recognised FinTech startups were lined up next to each other at Sibos – Trade Ledger, Look Who’s Charging and Airwallex. Tier One People have been waxing lyrical about Trade Ledger and Look Who’s Charging for several months.

The rise of Airwallex has been phenomenal. I caught up with GM for Australia, Steven Deglas who was delighted.

“It is a big milestone. We are three years old now, there are lots of entrants in our space and not many make it past 18 months. So it is a big testament to the team, the founders and our investors that we continue to grow. There are lots of opportunities for us and we are really excited about the next 12 months.”

Nicole Grover Co Founder of Look Who’s Charging said she was pleasantly surprised when the award was announced.

“I thought we had been invited along as guests, when they called out Look Who’s Charging I was pleasantly surprised. David and Stu (David Washbrook and Stu Grover co CEO’s) are in Vegas for Money 20;20 as we look to expand. The partnership with NAB has really given momentum and we are very excited about the global opportunities ahead. We have lots of interest from banks and FinTechs at Sibos and Money 20;20. And everyone seems prepared to talk business.”

Martin McCann, CEO of Trade ledger was his usual modest self and humbled by last nights award.

“It is fantastic recognition. The business is only two years old and we now have offices in London and Sydney. I have moved to London to focus on partnering with international banks. The KPMG FinTech 100 recognition is paying off with several banks exhibiting at Sibos approaching me today. The only downside to being in London is I miss my Sunday morning surf!”


The potential game changers.

I was really fortunate to shadow a group of hand-picked FinTech companies as they hustled for new partners and potential investors. Here is my pick of the best of an already elite group of FinTech startups.

Priviti Group is a startup from Ireland with a Consent Management Standard for Open Banking. It is a visionary technology that allows the Consumer to grant, review and revoke consent for the use of their personal data. I spent the whole week with CEO Dave Cunningham and Head of Asia Dermot McCann, these guys are phenomenal entrepreneurs and have a visionary solution. Absolute game changers!

Bud Financial is an API platform connecting banks to 90 FinTech applications. Leading the way for open banking in the UK, Bud enables big banks to partner with multiple FinTech applications, giving the user one simple interface. Bud is the perfect solution for FinTechs and large banks to collaborate, with HSBC their biggest client. There are no plans to head out to the Australia at this stage.

Arctic Intelligence is a regtech software business going through huge growth. Offering a risk management and compliance solution suitable for businesses from startup to global enterprise. I caught up with CEO, Anthony Quinn and there is significant interest from global players in banking.

R3 Blockchain platform, Corda, that enables any business of any size to build and operate on the blockchain.  Corda records, manages, executes institutions’ financial agreements in perfect synchrony with their peers, creating a world of frictionless commerce.

Scanovate is an Israeli startup with a mobile first, dynamic, identity management platform using facial recognition for KYC compliance. I spent a day with the CEO

Revolut I hear the wait will soon be over. Can’t say anything else at this stage sorry.

FinTech Summit

Tuesday 16th October. The 5th FinTech Summit took place in Sydney. An all-star line-up of FinTech leaders and a sell-out crowd made this the best FinTech Summit yet.

The topics of open banking, the rise of challenger banks, the recurring themes of raising capital and hiring talent were all debated. But the prominent themes of the day were integrity, ethics and genuine care for customers.

There was a real sense of excitement in the room, with the audience recognising we are at the beginning of a new era in FinTech. Presentations by UP Bank and Xinja demonstrated the differences between a digital challenger bank and a neo bank.

Using ground breaking technology, Up (challenger bank) have taken an established bank and re-imagined the banking experience based on the premise ‘living not banking.’

Xinja (neo bank), on the other hand are building a totally new bank and new products, using technology to ‘bring humanity back into banking.’

Two very different angles, two very different visionaries but two people united in making Australian banking the best in the world.

A panel discussion with challengers Volt Bank, Athena Home Loans, Douugh and Judo Capital and a final presentation by Martin McCann of Trade Ledger painted an exhilarating future for Aussie FinTech. In 12 months time Australian consumers could be spoilt for choice.


Celebrating the success stories of Australian FinTech

AfterpayDavid Hancock of AfterPay opened the FinTech Summit with a fantastic presentation on customer trust. AfterPay has a market cap of AUS $2.6bn and is without doubt Australia’s greatest FinTech success story to date. The global growth story is astonishing, even Kylie Jenner wants AfterPay for her cosmetics business!

The paradigm shift in risk management, based on trust and customer care, has played a big role in AfterPay’s success. Social platforms, technology and access to data have all enabled the rapid growth and adoption of new business models. His words of advice to the major banks were

“The cost of mistrusting people is significantly higher than the value of mistrusting people.”

Katherine McConnell, CEO and Founder of Brighte shared her journey. Incredible to think exactly three years ago, Katherine arrived at Stone & Chalk with a vision and a laptop. Today, Brighte has written approximately AUS $200m in loans, has $90m banking facilities, with investors including Mike Cannon-Brookes and AirTree Ventures.

The 10x vision for Brighte is to enable the mass adoption of batteries in the home and play a pivotal role in making Australia a clean energy country. Despite all the success and awards, Katherine remains one of the most humble and accessible people in FinTech. It is fantastic to see the continued success of Brighte.


Xinja news and updates

Xinja CEO, Eric Wilson was as passionate as ever in his mission to bring humanity back into banking. We caught up with Eric afterwards where he shared big announcements and a new product release (not Xinja Chocolate.)

Although unable to name names at this stage, expect announcements on high-profile board appointments. The series C funding round is coming to a successful close with lots of interest from overseas investors. Talks with regulators are on track. And the core banking system implementation (a world first partnership with SAP) is ahead of schedule. Hopefully all should be announced at the next AGM planned for November.

So, only one questions remains (quote Billy Zane in Zoolander)

‘Eric, when you gonna drop Android on us buddy?’

Soon!


Values and culture are your business

The afternoon event consisted of 4 break out sessions on open banking, raising capital, regtech and compliance. Yours truly chaired a panel discussion with Kylie Vitale of Volt Bank, Kristen Holmes of Zip and Will Blott of Cover Genius. Three highly progressive People and Culture leaders with a pioneering approach to scaling businesses through Values and Culture. The value of hiring a People and Culture specialist in the early stages of growth is huge.


Open banking and the future of Australian FinTech

Martin McCann of Tradeledger ended what was an energetic event with a rallying call to action on open banking.

“If we make Banking as a Service a success, we could unleash Aussie financial muscle on international markets, on a scale never seen before”

What a fantastic message to end a landmark day.

My closing thoughts? Open banking is a once in a century opportunity for Australians. For the future of Australia and our ability to compete on a global scale, we simply cannot allow open banking to become the exclusive domain of the big four banks. Scott Morrison has asked the FinTech community not to screw it (open banking) up. Today, the FinTech community fired the same message straight back to the PM.

Glen Frost deserves extra special praise for organising another standout Summit and for his continued and selfless support of the FinTech community. Well done Glen!

 

 

Up Bank Launch

October 9th 2018 will go down in history as the day Australian Banking stepped into the future, with the official launch of Australia’s first Next Gen NeoBank. 

Up is a partnership between Australia’s 5th largest bank, Bendigo and Adelaide Bank, and Ferocia, the software team behind Bendigo’s award winning banking platform.

Tier One People Founder, Dexter Cousins was one of a lucky few guests at the launch event in Sydney. The launch itself was more akin to an iPhone launch than the launch of a bank. Founder Dom Pym (the dude in the beard) wowed the crowd with an amazing product demo. Guests watched on as Dom transfered money from his UP account into the account of Head of Product, Anson Parker (pictured next to Dom,) using a voice command, in seconds.

A bank built by Techies NOT Bankers

Users can sign ‘UP’ for an account in two minutes (the average sign up time is 2 minutes 5 seconds to be exact!) and use the account immediately through Apple Pay while your card is issued. UP is the first cloud-hosted bank platform using Google Cloud Services, testing results on the platform are incredible. During 11 months of testing, the platform has spent a total of just over two hours in down time!

The technology is super powerful with features like spend tracking, spend analysis, automatic transaction recognition, instant payments using Osko and Siri integration. And they have been super smart to preempt open data reforms by giving users total access to their data. The tech is backed up by seriously slick UX and design.

I asked founder Dom Pym if UP were classing themselves as a challenger bank to the Big 4 Australian domestic banks. This is what he had to say;

“Bendigo and Adelaide Bank’s strong track-record provides us with a credible banking partner, coupled with the creative licence to design Up in the most ‘non-bank’ way possible. It has meant we can offer customers a new way to manage their money ahead of everyone else.”

“The alternative would have been to apply for a restricted banking license and be in the same boat as the neo banks – unable to launch in any meaningful way until at least 2019.”

“We’ll keep working at a fierce pace to add new and exciting features at a consistent rate. We’ve been averaging about five deployments per day, which is unusual for a bank, to say the least, and we’ll continue to do so.”

Up Bank Launch

Is UP any different to any other banking app?

I have been using UP for the past six weeks. What I find so refreshing and unique about UP is the limited involvement of bankers in the build and design of products. UP has been built by Tech people (super talented Tech people!) and the end product is highly impressive.

The bar has been set high for challenger banks entering the market. What is so ground breaking about UP? They have taken the best of the best FinTech innovation and applied design thinking to create a banking app for a world where customers own their data. Australian consumers are long overdue an enjoyable and convenient banking experience. UP delivers and then some.

Just announced – Founder Dom Pym will be sharing the UP journey at the FinTech Summit 16th October 2018 in Sydney

Exclusive for Tier One People network

Skip the wait list and get access now. Download the UP Banking App on iTunes and Android and enter code DEXTER – Limited to first 50

Matt Baxby Revolut CEO

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