European Business Magazine catches up with Oliver Werneyer ( pictured ) of Imburse about the fintech sector , start ups , challenges and its recent multi million pound fund raise.
You recently raised 10 million in a Series A, how will this affect Imburse, and in turn what impact do you see that having on the wider fintech sector?
Imburse offers an end-to-end solution that tackles the problem of single-integrations- a huge barrier for traditional large enterprises that need to remain competitive in a highly tech-driven market. Our platform offers connectivity to all payment providers and technologies across the globe, effectively enabling companies to expand their services, open up to new markets and continue to exceed customers’ expectations.
Imburse will use these funds to continue to invest in our product, people and market expansion across Europe. The demand and need for our solution is exploding and we need to keep pace with the evolving and growing clients’ needs, continue to deliver exceptional quality for enterprises and pick up and deliver on all the leads and opportunities.
For the wider Fintech sector, it shows that European startups can raise funds from the biggest VCs worldwide, build and grow ambitious and relevant solutions globally. There are still massive structural problems for enterprises to solve, and great financial rewards to be unlocked. Imburse will continue pursuing its mission to enable companies to unlock these financial rewards, expand to new markets and deliver excellent customer service at all times.
What were some funding challenges you faced in the beginning and how did you overcome them?
Early stage startups struggle to raise bigger tickets initially, as the European funding environment is still fundamentally more conservative. Immediately globally ambitious startups often struggle for initial funding and are slower to build bigger teams and race the solution through their territories and into new markets.
We overcame this by focussing on engaging with and getting intros from like-minded investors and actors in the Fintech ecosystem. Engaging with and targeting hyper-scale-minded people, working through the messaging and taking onboard great feedback has put us in a better shape for a hyper-scale path.
Why are digital payment transformation and hyper-personalised banking so critical for the future of the banking sector?
There is a continuing trend for people to conduct business digitally. This is even true where services are rendered in person or physical shops. The payments aspect is most affected by digitalisation as merchants and users are always looking for the path with the least friction and lowest cost. Traditionally, the lowest cost methods are the most unsuited for digital business, but this is now rapidly changing (e.g. PSD2, open banking, alternative payment methods, etc). More technologies are made available all the time to offer better customer journeys, better security and lower transaction costs. All of this can then, in a digital world, be delicately balanced and deploys for the overall best proposition for the company and customer.
Digitalisation and hyper-personalisation are particularly critical for banks, as they have been more and more dis-intermediated from financial services- everything from accounts, cards, FX, and now also payments. It is absolutely essential for banks to continue to invest in and participate in the wider financial services ecosystem. However, they have a serious technical debt to overcome in order to be attractive. Also, as many of the bank’s core products are becoming commoditised, banks need to generate value differently for clients and the only way to extract more margin from commoditised business is through a significant level of personalisation and value creation for the customer.
How can the implementation of real-time payment options reduce costs and ensure greater value services to customers?
Real-time payment probably increases the actual transaction costs (at least in the medium-term future). This is seen as an advanced feature that carries a higher cost and higher risk. The massive cost savings really come from working with technology partners to better leverage more modern payment technologies (such as many of the real-time payment rails) to drive operational process enhancement and automation. By connecting to Imburse, for instance, companies can quickly access and connect to real-time payment schemes across the globe, which saves them valuable time and costs.
The huge savings on the cost side truly balance out the inevitable increase in transaction costs. Also, in most cases, quickly paying out to customers in need of funds reduces the risk of secondary costs for both the client and the company. The faster money is made available, the more companies can avoid on unnecessary customer management friction (such as calls to call centers), other costs arising from delayed service engagement, or regulatory/ombudsman issues in client service issues. Thus, as a way to reduce cost as well as maximise customer perceived value, the implementation of real-time payment capabilities is essential.
What are your predictions for how businesses in the finance and insurance industry will operate once the pandemic is back under control?
A great leap forward has been made around transformation and digitalisation projects. Once the pandemic is over, I expect to see a temporary slow-down in some of these activities as incumbents will look to rest on their laurels and take a quick breather, try to shore up some profitability to shareholders, and build out new “post-pandemic” strategic plans.
There will be a few, more modern companies, who will continue at full steam with the broader transformation, digitalisation, and modernisation of its offering and will be able to carve out a clear early-mover advantage. Meanwhile, laggards will again have to invest a significantly higher amount of money and start delivering new strategies to try to keep up with these tech-driven companies. Nevertheless, once the pandemic is back under control, the industry will be in a better position to leverage technology partners more flexibly. A Q and A with Oliver Werneyer of Imburse- Pictured
How do you expect the adoption of these technologies to evolve in Europe?
We have seen first-hand how European companies are racing to refresh their tech stacks and architectures in order to leverage more of the moderns tools and services now available in the market. They are hard-pressed to grow market share, increase margins and reduce costs, all against the American, British and Asian markets that are coming in with their own solutions.
These international players come with very technologically advanced solutions but often lack the local knowledge and nuanced understanding of the European market (fragmented) to succeed. However, their much bigger budgets and much lower costs are a huge advantage and can really enable them to disrupt the market.
European companies have recognised this, they have seen the opportunity to also compete more across Europe and are becoming increasingly bold on internationalising their own solutions, technologies and services to other markets.