Matt Clare, Chief Operating Officer for Global Processing Services (GPS) talks aboutthe future of fintech with his thoughts on the expected evolutions surrounding banking innovations, the need for more intuitive solutions in finance and how regulatory and authentication platforms will need to transform to meet new age customer needs:
Tell us a little about yourself Matt, how has your journey as a COO in this market been?
My priorities have always been leading operations, driving performances and delivering operational improvements, as well as business development. I have got almost more 20 years of experience in fields like financial services in the UK, France and EMEA-wide roles, along with leading several successful restructurings of operations and processes. All that time gifted me a great deep experience in operational leadership, client relationship management and project management.
Before working at GPS, I worked at First Data, GE Capital, and at Citi I have worked as a Senior Vice President. Recently, I was working as the Ops Director for Cashplus, one of Europe’s first profitable payment fintechs.
What challenges and skills do you think today’s COOs need to pay more attention to developing in their teams and amongst their leadership?
Covid-19 has made us completely change our working process by transforming our methods. Institutions have had to adjust to working from home quite quickly as the challenges had grown even more and there was a need to maintain and improve productivity, morale and teamwork. However, it is now not enough for companies to simply provide the infrastructure and tools required for colleagues to do their job well – this also means providing a more structured way of working and clear leadership, to make sure the line between working from home does not destroy their personal time.
At GPS, we are solely focused on increasing the delivery of better financial experiences for each one of our customers. Our customers are always at the heart of the products and services that GPS provides. There are a huge number of opportunities that we could pursue, but it is crucial that we temper our passion for advancing the industry with focus to scale sensibly. Our culture is very grounded in continuous improvement and operational excellence, which sometimes means saying ‘no’ or ‘not just now’ to certain opportunities diplomatically.
What are your thoughts on the development of fintech during the last decade or so: tell us how, according to you, will fintech evolve as an industry over time?
Reaching further beyond the traditional markets, fintech will undoubtedly have a massive impact globally as cost barriers fall and solutions become more tailored to specific geographies and demographics.
Products have also become highly intuitive – biometric authentication, for example, allows a person to be identified based on biologically verifiable data, which protects against document fraud and identity theft. It also eliminates the need to remember passwords to access smartphones or certain mobile apps. It is estimated that 41% of smartphone owners are currently using biometrics for authentication, with that number predicted to rise to 66% by 2024.
These innovations extend to payments as well, as demonstrated in the last few months when lockdowns came into effect in around the world. An example of a fintech product which was quickly introduced to address the needs of customers during Covid lockdowns in the UK is Starling Bank’s ‘Connected Card’.
Starling’s Connected Card allows customers, especially those who are self-isolating or vulnerable, to provide a second debit card to a trusted friend or relative to buy groceries, medical prescriptions or other essential items on their behalf. This immediately eliminates the need for IOUs, cash, contact, cheques or the exchange of bank account details with potential delays or errors in reimbursement.
Six years following its inception, Starling Bank now has 1.8 million customer accounts, with more than £3.6 billion in transactions. Meanwhile, on the other side of the globe, in Australia, the big four (ANZ, Westpac, NAB and Commonwealth Bank) have lost a collective half a billion dollars since the arrival of neobanks, including Xinja, Judo Bank and 86 400.
Looking forward towards the future, there will be further advances made in transparency, especially with regards to digital banking regulatory compliance. This may mean adopting a fresh approach to digital banking Anti Money Laundering (AML) which includes biometric authentication to aid with customer due diligence, the use of Artificial Intelligence to make reporting and monitoring processes more incisive and efficient (with less time spent on remediation), and more.
Can you name some of top technologies that according to you are very essential for today’s B2B COOs?
Cloud computing for sure, especially the on-demand delivery of IT resources over the Internet with pay-as-you-go pricing, has been a huge game-changer for companies, specifically those who are looking to deploy their solutions globally. Whether that be Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Services (PaaS) or Software as a Service (SaaS), these solutions provide companies with much greater flexibility and control without maintaining physical data centres and servers.
One of the strongest collaborative tools such as Remo can provides an immersive virtual space, has also been extremely useful for Town Halls and large meetings, and can help in giving many more opportunities for interaction than the run-of-the-mill video conferencing tools.
As products and services develop, and options available to B2B customers increase, it’s extremely important that teams are well versed in how products and processes work in all permutations.
Collaborative, engaging and interactive online training and documentation tools are essential, with the ability to update content quickly and alert key users of that content. Automated alerts on stubs or potential inconsistencies, as well as the standard configurable reminders to review documents end-to-end on a rolling basis are also very much needed during this time.
As fintech innovations are changing the way businesses transact and centre their financial insights and data, what thoughts would you like to share with first time adopters?
From my experience I think it is very important to compile very detailed and well debated requirements, followed by a structured RFI.
Also consider striking the right balance between experience and innovation, with care to not to be too risk averse in going for a legacy or last generation provider of a tool or service, nor to be one of the very first to try out an untested product which will likely have gaps in the delivery and the knowledge of the team supporting it.
We’d love to know your thoughts about the global fintech start-up marketplace – please tell us about some exciting innovations you’ve come across. What are your thoughts on the start-ups you feel are going to turn into fintech unicorns in the coming days?
Razer Fintech, the financial technology arm of Razer Inc, it primarily produces gaming hardware, software and systems, is definitely one to rise in 2021. In its bid to become the world’s first global youth bank, Razer Fintech recently launched the Razer Card (which is still going through beta testing), as the card users will be capable of availing cashback features with no capped limit for a year and a gamified rewards system in-app.
Founded by Starling Bank co-founder, Mark Hipperson, Ziglu brings cryptocurrencies much closer to a mainstream audience by developing a payment card that gives equal weightage to cryptocurrencies as well as fiat currencies, which are a unit of consumer payment.
Previously, the market was full of services that treated crypto purely as a short-term investment opportunity and were rife with hidden fees and complexity. Ziglu’s proposition enables consumers to acquire and confidently spend cryptocurrencies as easily as fiat currency on a single payment card. With Ziglu having successfully raised over $8 million on the Seedrs platform – the largest equity raised on the platform this year – and bitcoin’s price nearing its all-time high, moving forward, cryptocurrencies are likely to have gained increased number of demands.
Thank you, Matt! We hope to see you at V3 Media soon again.