Thursday 12th July — we quite literally descended onto Eight Club, with our space nestled nearly 100 feet beneath EC3. Our venue was once an old bank vault, very fitting for our intimate fintech Campus event. We welcomed Mark Hipperson, co-founder of Starling Bank and now CTO at Centtrip, a global payments and foreign exchange business, and Val Scholz, Head of Engagement at well-established 'challenger bank' Revolut. Our Head of Partnerships, Olly Percival kicked off the evening with his boldly named presentation, 'There's no such things as fintech'.
Quite simply, everything is fintech. Financial institutions need to adopt new technology almost as quickly as it's emerging if they want to stay ahead of the game. Enterprise-level financial businesses are slow to react and adverse to risk, with much of their services built on legacy systems. BUT, they have an abundance of users and capital at their disposal, and the ability to scale. On the flipside, fintech startups find challenges in acquiring new users, securing funding, and showing an initial profit. But their nimble, agile qualities mean that they can make changes fast, and very easily adapt to changes in the market.
In essence, whether global megacorp or startup, both types of company are fundamentally trying to do the same thing, albeit with very different capabilities and approaches. The takeaway here: fintech is not just startups and entrepreneurs. It's all of us, with our own unique set of strengths and challenges depending on which side of the market we are on. Fintech is not a niche, it's a movement encompassing the entire industry.
Mark took us on a whistlestop tour of what's causing disruption in banking and payments and why this is a good thing for the industry and consumers alike. Addressing PSD2, it's clear from Mark that banks are wide open to disintermediation through interfaces such as AISP. However, they could quite easily 'self-disrupt' by becoming AISPs. Mark predicts that we are about to see a crescendo of crypto and blockchain activity, all for the greater good. And open banking will soon extend outside of banking to other areas such as energy companies.
A clear takeaway from Mark's talk was that PSD2 and open banking will be key to driving huge change in financial services over the next few years. Far more so than CASS or fast-pass banking licences ever did. And it was reassuring to hear that UX is at the heart of it all — something which we fundamentally believe in at Kyan. Only the strongest will survive, with great user experience being what helps the winners succeed.
As a 'full Monzo' customer, I've been a little blinkered to other challenger banks, so Val's talk was a great opportunity for me to see how they do things at Revolut. It's instantly clear that despite offering similar products to a similar user base, their operating model is very, very different. I was surprised to hear that Revolut have zero external spend. Every penny they make goes straight back into the business, investing in their staff. Revolut are well on the way to 2.5m users without spending a single penny on marketing.
Val talked us through how Revolut built their product and build new features, with their core approach being to identify big problems and big marketing opportunities rather than focusing on smaller, more granular details. Asking key questions allows the Revolut team to thoroughly understand the problem in a way that far exceeds their 'newness' as a company.
- Why is it a problem?
- Why is it hard to solve?
- Why has no one done it yet?
The headline piece from Val's talk for me was the gung-ho attitude that Revolut adopt for problem solving. Their mantra is to go 100x better. Why? People overvalue their existing solution by 10x. Companies overvalue their solution by 10x. Go 100x better and dominate the market with a product that everyone loves.
So without any marketing spend whatsoever, how do Revolut build interest and hype? Quite simply, they build virality in to the product. Common ways to do this include waiting lists, feature unlocks, referral systems or promotional partnerships — all of these often have little cost to the provider and build huge excitement around the consumer. Val went on to explain how to create a strong user journey by implementing an adoption and engagement strategy, and then revealed a Campus exclusive (or maybe he was just being nice)... Revolut are to offer an all-metal debit card as part of their premium offering; platinum cashback, family accounts, travel insurance and airport lounge access. Nice!
A huge thank you to everyone who came along. We met Marketing Directors, Product Owners, Innovation Leads, and a Managing Partner-cum-entrepreneur. Stay in touch, and we hope to see you all again.
If Campus sounds like something you'd enjoy, keep an eye on campus.kyan.com for details. Our next event is Campus Pensions, Thursday 9th August, Eight Club, Bank.