The world of Fintech is constantly evolving, and Integrated Finance is leading the charge in driving innovation and efficiency. In a recent interview on The Fintech Impact podcast, Daniel Cronin, co-founder and COO shared his valuable insights on how the Integrated Finance platform supports fintechs, overcomes challenges, and fosters growth in the industry.
In this article, we delve into Daniel’s explanation on how Integrated Finance differentiates itself in the industry and addresses the pain points entrepreneurs and established institutions face.
What is Integrated Finance and how does it differentiate itself in the Fintech space?
Daniel explains that Integrated Finance is a platform that helps established financial institutions expand their product offerings to customers. Unlike other platforms, Integrated Finance focuses on delivering a consistent user experience, regardless of the banking partner or Know Your Customer (KYC) provider chosen.
Previously, banks used a standardised messaging system called Swift, but the landscape has changed with the rise of Application Programming Interfaces (APIs).
Banking as a Service (BaaS) emerged in the past few years, allowing community banks to be consolidated through BaaS platforms. However, Daniel adds the caveat that the situation in Europe is more fragmented, with different BaaS pairs connecting to tier-one and tier-two banks and sometimes even directly to payment schemes. Each connection has unique APIs, dissolving standardisation.
Integrated Finance simplifies the process by enabling entrepreneurs to focus on their unique value propositions without worrying about API differences between banks. It offers a standardised experience and streamlines launches and new service integrations for established financial institutions. Daniel is proud of the fact that this allows the engineers inside fintechs to focus more on building features that will win them customers, as opposed to building laborious ledgers and other infrastructure.
Simplifying enterprise experience: resolving Fintech operational challenges
Integrated Finance focuses on understanding the customer experience as the foundation of their service, setting them apart from global vendors. Daniel shares how this allows the company to excel in addressing unique challenges that hinder project implementation.
For instance, many businesses in the retail sector overlook the need for multiple bank accounts. Integrated Finance ensures that such requirements are addressed immediately, preventing costly delays. Clients undergo an analysis of their specific needs and gain access to a sandbox environment integrated with a bank that meets their requirements. Through an intuitive user interface or developer centre, clients can effortlessly generate accounts via API integration or manual submission, catering to technical and non-technical users.
By connecting a company's bank account to Integrated Finance, clients benefit from robust routing capabilities and simplified operations, enabling them to focus on their core activities. Daniel adds that one surprising realisation was that as the platform naturally adheres to GDPR, it attracts American customers seeking compliance assurance for establishing a UK and EU presence.
Integrated Finance also handles legal nuances and compliance considerations across multiple jurisdictions. Automated routing of account generation based on factors such as residency, compliance requirements, deposit destination, cost-effectiveness, and efficiency ensures seamless operations.
ROI, time savings, and impact on innovation
Daniel is dedicated to helping businesses save time and succeed. He mentions that for successful startups, Integrated Finance can save them 3 to 15 months. All whilst providing a user-friendly platform that handles various payment methods and meets GDPR requirements, streamlining development by eliminating unnecessary tasks.
But Integrated Finance's impact goes beyond time savings. Many ventures struggle to launch or face unexpected challenges. Integrated Finance addresses these issues, creating an environment where more companies can thrive and innovate.
Daniel highlights that it is crucial to recognise the significance of failed attempts. By solely focusing on established ventures, we miss the potential for even more successful companies to emerge. Similar advancements were seen with platforms like AWS.
He says that often investors ask what benefits would you have given a Revolut when they started, but there is a graveyard of businesses which never got a chance to solve the problem they were meant to solve, simply because they died in the product building phase.
How does Integrated Finance simplify payment systems and allow entrepreneurs to focus on their core business?
When you connect to Integrated Finance, you can handle account opening, money movement, and other financial operations, allowing you to concentrate on delivering an exceptional customer experience.
Unlike being tied to a single bank, Integrated Finance acts as a layer that works with multiple banks. Daniel shares how partners are chosen based on pricing, relationships, and core product offerings. You don't have to worry about the differences between banking partners because the platform fills the gaps in each partner's offerings.
Daniel gives the example that for instance, if you need real-time payments, Integrated Finance identifies the best provider for that service and integrates them into the platform alongside powerful tools like Currencycloud for currency exchange. This approach combines the strengths of multiple providers into a single interface and API, enabling you to offer your users a comprehensive and streamlined experience.
By simplifying integration and aggregating various services, Integrated Finance empowers entrepreneurs to focus on what matters most: their customers and delivering a superior experience. Daniel’s aim is to make every feature accessible to businesses of all sizes, recognising that innovation often emerges from the broader market. However, reducing the cost of entry remains an industry-wide challenge that requires ongoing effort to foster true innovation in Fintech.
Lowering the cost of entry for innovation in the creator economy
Daniel specifies how the high cost and complexity of operating in financial services create barriers to innovation in the creator economy. While technology has made it easier for creators to pursue their passions, financial services have not kept up with their needs. Daniel has first hand seen and is working with startups in the creator economy and identified pain points hindering their growth.
Some pain points creators face:
- Mortgage companies consider creator revenues unreliable, making it difficult for creators to access financial services or establish creditworthiness.
- Verification and facilitation of payments for creators can be challenging due to restrictions from platforms like Google AdSense, limiting the ability to work with Fintech solutions.
- Attribution of sales generated by influencers is problematic, as merchants lack effective tracking mechanisms. This leads to missed opportunities for influencers and merchants to benefit from their partnerships.
These pain points remain unaddressed by incumbent companies, raising concerns about the industry's future. He warns that If financial services fail to innovate, other industries may step in, similar to what happened in Asia: where telecom companies dominate financial services due to their customer-focused innovations.
How do banks, regulators and increasing customer demands impact innovation?
Banks are moving away from direct customer engagement while regulators impose stricter requirements on startups to cater to diverse customer segments. However, Daniel warns that this approach hinders innovation by diverting resources towards meeting broad demands rather than focusing on specific market niches.
Traditional financial institutions are shifting focus, leaving room for startups to fill the void. Yet, regulators are placing greater emphasis on serving all customer categories, which can stifle innovation. Entrepreneurs face the challenge of complying with regulatory obligations while striving to provide specialised services that differentiate them from banks.
Daniel advises that to strike a balance, regulators should encourage innovation while safeguarding consumer interests. He believes that allowing startups to concentrate on specific customer segments fosters creativity and the development of targeted solutions. This approach ensures consumers access diverse, innovative products addressing their unique needs.
Finding a middle ground between regulatory demands and fostering innovation is crucial for the industry's growth according to Daniel. Collaboration and open dialogue between regulators, banks, and startups are essential to creating an ecosystem supporting consumer protection and entrepreneurial growth.
How does regulation affect innovation in Fintech?
Regulation plays a significant role in shaping the landscape for companies like Integrated Finance. While some regulations aim to reduce risk and protect consumers, Daniel shares that there are instances where policies fall short or hinder innovation. Finding the right balance is crucial to fostering an environment that encourages compliance and entrepreneurial growth.
As a software and technology orchestrator, Integrated Finance has had to adapt to regulatory demands. Daniel shares how they have implemented additional features to enhance client money protection, such as automatic fee deductions and real-time movement of funds to separate accounts. These measures ensure transparency and mitigate risks associated with client funds and avoid pitfalls such as the FTX scandal.
While such regulatory compliance adds complexity, Daniel believes that it makes Integrated Finance's products more compelling to established businesses. However, he is concerned about the continued demands of regulators and their potential impact on innovation. Striking a balance between regulatory requirements and fostering a supportive environment for startups to raise capital and innovate remains challenging.
The evolving regulatory landscape, especially in light of past issues in the crypto market, will likely shape the future demands placed on companies. Daniel believes monitoring these developments will be important for incumbents and industry newcomers.
What benefits, challenges, and motivations exist for companies in the industry?
Daniel would like a clear standard for identifying individuals and businesses in the industry and believes it would benefit everyone. The current regulatory guidelines for identification vary and lack consistency. A standard would streamline data handling and enhance security against fraud, leading to a more efficient system.
One major challenge that Daniel reflects on from his journey starting Integrated Finance was how they first went about strategically adding new partners as they grew. Initially, they focused on customer-rich partners without considering the breadth of their offerings. This misalignment led to gaps in Integrated Finance's system. Now, Daniel believes they have identified a comprehensive list of partners, creating a marketplace where all needs are met and driving commercial alignment.
On a personal level, Daniel finds purpose and motivation in running a business. His passion for financial services emerged from his previous venture, where he realised he was spending time and resources on matters customers didn't care about. He aims to lower the cost of entry to financial services and believes that solutions should come from those who understand the problems best. Making a difference and solving real-world problems drive him forward.
Daniel truly believes that Integrated Finance is revolutionising the industry by simplifying launches and offerings through its user-friendly platform. By focusing on delivering a consistent user experience and addressing the nuances of different banking partners' APIs, Integrated Finance streamlines the process for entrepreneurs and established financial institutions alike.
Daniel’s origin story for Integrated Finance and deep understanding of industry pain points have enabled him to help create a platform that simplifies account generation, resolves operational challenges, and empowers innovation. With a commitment to lowering the cost of entry and fostering a thriving ecosystem of innovation, financial services are becoming more accessible and approachable for all.