I am not a believer in luck. My life experience has shown me that fortune, material or otherwise is not linked to some surprising intervention of destiny, but always to a heightened connection, an innate drive, a desire to achieve and learn no matter what background, culture or creed you originate from.
I grew up in South Africa. A world of contrasts where on the face of it, the gulf between those that are fortunate (however you define that) and those that are not can be put down to social, political and economic influences. But this is an over simplification, and I have learnt to truly appreciate that despite huge barriers to overcome, lives can be changed dramatically by those who see things differently, who acknowledge challenge but creatively and very often collaboratively come together to break ‘barriers’. After all, I transitioned with the Madiba generation – a youth in my 20’s when my country flipped from one world to another with the freedom of the world icon, Nelson Mandela.
London has been my home for the last 15 years and yet it has only been in the last few that I can truly say I recognize how the piecing together of my heritage, career, location, and network have made for an obvious magnetism to the World where finance meets technology.
I found my way into this industry just a short 3 years ago, managing the launch of an integrated payments engine for a global FTSE 100 software company. The momentum of the market combined with the relative shortage of cross industry skills – technology vs finance – provided me with an early window to recognize the value of those who could work across the industries but also blend and broker the sources of innovation – in the form of new entrants with large institutional incumbents.
The potential force that Fintech can and should be, has afforded me a rare opportunity – to toss aside the confines of old working models, leverage my intertwined desire to be an entrepreneur, advisor, broker and industry change agent – with the potential to make an impact I never imagined. Timing, market momentum, location and my own personal drivers have conspired to draw me into this World, and it fits me perfectly.
This is a vastly complex multi industry stream of technologies which are driving change across the financial supply chain from the incarnation of the money flow and liquidity at wholesale bank level through to the retail convenience of the person in the street. The value created by innovation in Fintech can and will affect almost every aspect of society. More than half of the global non cash payments growth comes from developing countries and in 2015 the number of mobile payments are projected to grow at 60.8% (RBS and Capgemini World Payments Report, 2014).
Institutions and regulators alike are embracing the need to get in on the act through links to accelerators such as Barclays, Lloyds and Rabobank. Others are launching venture funds (Santander £100million) or directly making investments in companies such as Goldman Sachs’s £15mill funding round in Kensho alongside some other big name investors.
The consequence is profound – the models for the way in which money is made, moves and protected is transforming – so that country, institution and individual can and will be impacted.
Dare I say it, Fintech could be considered a movement for Global change. The launch of Innovate Finance last August 2014 by George Osborne drove home the collective strength of government work with industry for greater inclusion in financial services is indicative of the power we are building here.
It is rare to be surrounded by an amazingly open and collaborative global peer group of industry influencers, market and policy driven momentum. Added to this, the insatiable appetite to drive and consume innovation. Company founders, investors, financial services companies, foundations, trade bodies and thought leaders are converging to explore collaboration in multiple forms. The consequence just for the UK and Ireland has been a tripling of the volume of deals since 2011 (Accenture – The Boom in Global Fintech Investment, 2014).
I feel this is my little window into history in the making. My character piece, fuelled by my own personal opportunity to write a page. A passion for my country of birth and my city I now call home and all the chapters in between are a force which has helped me find my Fintech fortune…and ironically that’s not just about money….