Last week the Money 20-20 Conference took place in Copenhagen, and for the first time, some of the world’s largest banks shared the stage with a variety of disruptive Fintech founders.
Throughout 2015, London’s Fintech revolution gathered pace with companies like Transferwise and World Remit achieving the fabled “Unicorn” status as their valuations, backed by significant Venture Capital funding, soared past the $1 billion mark.
For too long, it was felt, in the field of foreign exchange and international money transfers the big banks had got away with charging excessive and unnecessary fees, and with transparent, web based services, supported by bank-bashing marketing campaigns, the Fintech disruptors began to circle.
But in reality, change has not been as sweeping as the hype would have us believe. In 2016, the investment climate has flattened, and today the talk is of cockroaches, not unicorns. Questions are now being asked about whether Fintech valuations can be sustained at such a high level; surviving the backlash whilst continuing to grow is the new goal.
Questions are being asked about whether money transfer sites are all they were cracked up to be and profit margins are alleged to be dwindling or non-existent as even the so-called “Unicorns” have struggled to live up to their hastily acquired reputations.
Not so The Money Cloud. Launched with far less fanfare just over one year ago by 2 foreign exchange veterans with backing from start-up incubator FindInvestGrow and its investment arm New Model Venture Capital, The Money Cloud, in its founders’ words, “has been designed to show how to make savings when sending money overseas, providing the facts required to make an informed decision.”
It may not sound as sexy as the Robin Hood style campaigning of some of its big-name rivals but it could be more effective in the long run – The Money Cloud say they have built relationships with specialist, regulated foreign exchange brokers and leveraged the latest tech to try to make the process of sending money abroad as efficient and economic as possible, whilst publishing a series of guides to try to demystify the process for the public.
The Money Cloud’s announcement last week that it had appointed a new Non Executive Director, Ron Zeghibe, the founder and a current Executive Director of black cab hailing app Hailo, is a major coup for the company. Zeghibe joins the board and it’s expected he will take up the position of Non-Executive Chairman after The Money Cloud’s latest round of funding is complete.
Hailo itself has experienced something of a roller coaster ride since it was first launched in 2011. After its initial runaway success led to a fundraising of $30m in 2012 the company’s aggressive growth plans, which saw it expand into the US and go head to head with Uber, were eventually scaled back.
After a $50m raise was secured in Jan 2014 the service decided to drop its Uber style private hire arm in October 2015, in part due to protests from black cab drivers who, it was alleged, launched an assault on the company’s HQ in protest against “mercenary” drivers. Zeghibe found himself in the eye of the storm.
All of this, and an earlier stint as President of Corporate Finance at Salomon Brothers as well as lengthy exposure to the print and outdoor advertising industries means that Zeghibe comes with a wealth of experience encompassing dizzying highs and gut wrenching lows.
“We’re delighted to welcome Ron to our team. He has an impressive track record and a proven ability to create strategic clarity, drive innovation and growth, ensure disciplined execution and deliver results”, commented Money Cloud founder Emmanuel Addy, adding “We’re looking forward to working with him and will utilise his considerable board level expertise to help develop and execute our growth strategy.”
The Money Cloud has made solid progress to date, founder Addy told the Haggerston Times. The site has been used in more than 30 countries and offline, they continue to put in place deals with trusted 3rd party, regulated IFAs and exchange brokers, both private and corporate, they say, to ensure customers are getting the best deals on the market.
The company have developed their own white label exchange calculation tool which allows users to quickly assess the costs of moving money internationally and many challenger banks and top transfer sites like Azimo and Transferwise have expressed interest in incorporating the solution into their sites.
With this announcement, the Money Cloud are showing off their cockroach credentials – an ability to think and act strategically when the pressure is on, partner with the right people and make progress whilst others falter.
Perhaps, in years to come, we will refer to companies like the Money Cloud as the “uni-roaches”, or the “cock-corns”. With Zeghibe on board, anything is possible. This time the hype is tempered with pragmatism.