Hi Andrey, welcome to our Fintech Interview Series. Please tell us about your 15+ years of tech journey.
When I was a kid, I spent a lot of time with my grandfather. Back in the day, he was a radio operator at a civil airport in a small Ukrainian town. I used to hang out in his office, playing with old electronic parts and broken radio equipment all day long.
One day, some friends introduced me to computers, and that was a game changer. With computers, I could build technology without having to solder wires and debug circuit boards. That marked the beginning of my career in software engineering. I started coding in 2002 and have since delved into various areas such as backend, frontend, iOS applications, data science, DevOps, and management. I quickly realized that being able to write software was not enough. Programming languages are just languages for recording ideas; expertise in other areas is necessary to generate those ideas.
So, alongside software engineering, I also studied diverse subjects: business, finance, computer linguistics, statistics, and marketing. I believe that tech leaders must not only know how to write code but also understand what to create.
How is Monite turning B2B platforms, neo banks, and fintechs into super-apps with automated invoicing, payables, and B2B payments?
We provide our customers with a range of API building blocks, such as accounting, accounts receivable, accounts payable, payments, micro CRM for goods and services, and more. Each of these blocks encompasses the necessary business logic for various fintech verticals. They are both compliant and highly customizable.
This means that our customers can integrate our APIs into their web and mobile interfaces, and Monite will handle all the intricate business logic. For instance, adding fully compliant invoicing to your app could take up to a year to develop (not to mention the resources and disruptions caused within your business). However, by integrating our invoicing APIs, the process could take only a couple of weeks. This efficiency extends to payments, accounts payable, and other verticals.
We’re also working to expedite fintech product development further. We now offer our customers a designer playbook. Crafting effective UX/UI flows is challenging, so we provide a playbook that outlines each step to incorporate into their applications. Additionally, we’re developing an SDK for front-end developers. Once this SDK is thoroughly tested and publicly available, developers within our customers’ teams will be able to create fintech apps in a matter of hours instead of weeks.
This approach significantly reduces the cost and time required to create fintech apps, making the field more accessible to smaller teams with limited budgets.
How, according to you, should companies embrace AI in fintech to transform their business more significantly?
Machine learning has been widely adopted by fintech companies from the outset for areas like risk management, KYC, scoring, and fraud detection. These aspects of fintech are likely to remain relatively unchanged over the next decade.
As for actual AI, its potential is significant in customer support. AI systems have already begun replacing humans in customer support roles, and this trend is expected to continue, leading to the rise of all-AI customer support teams and AI-based concierge services.
Another promising AI application is a sophisticated AI advisor and auditor that could manage certain CFO functions, although challenges remain in terms of collecting and organizing financial documents.
What is the Embedded Finance API platform, and how does it leverage AI/ML?
Embedded finance refers to integrating financial services directly into non-financial platforms or applications. It allows businesses to offer financial products and services seamlessly within their own platforms, providing added convenience and value to customers. This can include services like payments, loans, insurance, investments, and more.
Embedded finance products use similar ML/AI approaches as other fintech products. The distinction lies in delivery channels and user experiences. Marketing and sales strategies for embedded fintech differ significantly from traditional financial services.
Could you please explain how automated AR (accounts receivable) and AP (accounts payable) work?
Let’s start with Accounts Payable. Every invoice received incurs processing costs. For instance, when you pay utility bills, your processing cost is the time it takes, usually around 10 minutes per month. However, for businesses like factories or large marketplaces, the processing costs for invoices can skyrocket. Imagine having to process 10,000 invoices per month.
Firstly, you need to gather all documents from various communication channels. Secondly, you must verify these documents to ensure you’re paying for actual goods and services your company procured. Thirdly, internal verification is necessary to prevent payments to scammers. Invoices also need approval before payment, especially for substantial expenses. Finally, the invoice must be paid and matched against bank account transactions.
Additionally, all invoices must be submitted to the accounting department and incorporated into balance sheets and reports. This entire process involves significant time, money, and human resources. Automated AP solutions reduce these costs by automating various steps, and handling the collection, verification, and aggregation of incoming bills.
The same concept applies to Accounts Receivable. To get paid by customers, we need to issue compliant invoices with accurate data, track payments, and integrate the invoices into the accounting system and relevant reports. Handling various documents such as cancellation notes, credit notes, dunning notes, and recurring invoices also adds processing costs. Monite manages these documents and payment tracking, thus reducing the cost of processing.
Usually, companies don’t consider creating platform teams until it’s too late, resulting in a proliferation of solutions and tools.
What are your thoughts on this?
When we initiated Monite, I drew inspiration from the concept of “design systems,” widely employed by UX/UI designers. Design systems encompass guidelines, components, and tools to ensure consistent user experiences across digital products. I adopted a similar approach within our engineering department, establishing internal guidelines that dictate the tech stack for the entire company, code organization, and preferred patterns for projects. A platform team naturally extends this concept. With common patterns, frameworks, and approaches in place, having a dedicated team to manage shared code libraries used by other teams is logical.
Standardized architecture based on an internal platform offers several benefits. We can easily rotate individuals across different business verticals and tech teams with minimal onboarding. Maintenance costs are also reduced since we only need to support one tech stack and toolset for the entire company.
Considering your expertise, what are your significant learnings and hurdles?
Whenever a choice arises between saving money and saving time, prioritize time. The tech landscape evolves rapidly, and failing to keep up can leave you behind the market.
When assembling your team, be selective. Don’t hesitate to reject candidates until you find genuine A-players. Involve these A-players from your tech team in the hiring process, as they’re skilled at identifying top talents.
Avoid blindly following buzzwords and IT trends. Engage with them only when you grasp the value they can bring to your company. Continuously monitor the market while exercising caution in immediate engagement.
How do you envision the fintech segment evolving given constant innovations and investments?
Large language models like GPT are poised to redefine how IT and customer support teams operate. AI assistants for engineers, like CoPilot, will significantly enhance software engineers’ productivity.
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The rise of e-invoicing standards will transform finance management workflows by granting machine-readable access to crucial financial documents. This will facilitate the creation of comprehensive automated financial systems.
Embedded finance and API-first products for engineers will provide affordable foundations for new software companies, offering a low-cost entry point for great product ideas. Some businesses already rely solely on 3rd party APIs, a trend that will likely continue to grow.
What’s your top work-related shortcut or productivity hack?
My hack involves understanding how the human body and brain function and optimizing my daily routine to achieve maximum productivity. Every aspect matters: diet, sleep, exercise, and note organization. I consume a variety of fruits and vegetables daily, hydrate well, practice Brazilian jiu-jitsu, and spend at least 1.5 hours outdoors walking my shiba inu doggo. I’ve developed an elaborate system of text notes, often referred to as a “second brain,” which helps me manage tasks not only in our company but also in my personal life.
Your favorite fintech quote?
“The social object of skilled investment should be to defeat the dark forces of time and ignorance which envelope our future,” by John Maynard Keynes, the father of macroeconomics.
I’m currently investing my time, money, and resources in building solutions that enhance people’s lives. Profits will naturally follow, which I’ll reinvest in my upcoming projects.
Thank you, Andrey! That was fun and we hope to see you back on Global Fintech Series.
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Andrey Korchak is an entrepreneur and accomplished tech lead with over 15 years of experience in software engineering. Before starting Monite, he founded Vokabee, a Singapore-based EdTech company funded by Telstra, Australia’s largest telco, and was a growth engineer at Wakie, a Y-Combinator Company.