GlobalFintechSeries Interview with Matt Clare, Chief Operating Officer, Global Processing Services (GPS)
Matt Clare, Chief Operating Officer for Global Processing Services(GPS) dives into the 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, your journey as a COO in this market?
My background has primarily been leading operations, driving performance and delivering operational improvements, as well as business innovation. I have more than 20 years of experience in financial services in the UK, France and EMEA-wide roles, having led several successful restructurings of operations and processes. During that time, I gained deep experience in operational leadership, client relationship management and project management.
Prior to GPS, I worked at First Data, GE Capital, and as a Senior Vice President at Citi. More recently, I was Ops Director for Cashplus, one of Europe’s first profitable payment fintechs.
What are some of the evolving challenges and skills you feel today’s COOs need to pay more attention to developing in their teams and amongst their leadership?
Covid-19 has transformed the way in which we work. Organisations have had to quickly adapt to remote working 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, ensuring that the lines between work and home life are not increasingly blurred as a result.
At GPS, we are relentlessly focused on accelerating the delivery of better financial experiences for every customer. Our customers are always at the heart of the products and services that GPS provides. There are a dizzying 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.
We’d love to hear a little about your thoughts on the evolution of fintech the last decade or so: how, according to you, will fintech shape up 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 to 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.
What are some of the top technologies you feel today’s B2B COOs should be well-versed with?
Cloud computing, specifically the on-demand delivery of IT resources over the Internet with pay-as-you-go pricing, has been a huge game-changer for companies, especially those 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 the need to maintain physical data centres and servers.
Strong collaborative tools such as Remo, which provides an immersive virtual space, has also been extremely useful for Town Halls and large meetings, and provides a lot more opportunity for interaction than the run-of-the-mill video conferencing tools.
As products and services develop, and options given to B2B customers increase, it’s essential 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 important.
As fintech innovations change how businesses transact and centre their financial insights and data, what are some of the top thoughts you’d share with first time adopters?
It is essential 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 offering and the knowledge of the team supporting it.
We’d love to hear your thoughts on the global fintech startup marketplace – can you talk about some interesting innovations you’ve come across? Your thoughts on a few startups that you feel are set to turn into fintech unicorns in the new future?
Razer Fintech, the financial technology arm of Razer Inc, which primarily produces gaming hardware, software and systems, is definitely one to watch moving into 2021. In its bid to become the world’s first global youth bank, Razer Fintech recently launched the Razer Card (which is still in beta testing), whereby card users will be able to avail of 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 closer to a mainstream audience by creating a payment card that treats cryptocurrencies equally to fiat currencies as 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 raise on the platform this year – and bitcoin’s price nearing its all-time high, there will likely continue to be an appetite for cryptocurrencies moving forward.
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