Technology at the heart with Currencycloud's Richard Arundel

The Finterview - Fintech Exposed episode 6. The Founder Diaries series

Richard and Integrated Finance’s own CEO Alistair Cotton discuss the journey that Richard’s been on over the years. From university to working as a real estate agent then a foreign exchange agent to now being the Chief Evangelist at Currencycloud, a company he co-founded with 6 others in 2009. Richard Arundel has seen, and done, it all in the foreign exchange sphere.

Richard Arundel is the Co-founder and Chief Evangelist at Currencycloud, the cross border payments experts now owned by Visa.

After a few years in the real estate market Richard moved into the finance sphere. His initial role was with a company called HiFX and involved partnership management. Companies would hand over their customers to HiFX to then process international payments for the customers directly.

The idea for Currencycloud came about as a solution to stop taking customers from companies, and instead provide a technology platform to the businesses themselves to provide the cross-border payment services.

The aim with this was to provide a better experience for the end user. And it worked. Having been in business for almost 14 years, Currencycloud has never been better.

The crux of the service Currencycloud provided was the cost transparency Currencycloud provided, something unique in the FX market. It came as an added bonus that they didn't need to partake in the immense sales grind foreign exchange had previously been for both Richard and Steve. Instead of selling to 100s, they sold to the one who then serviced those 100s.

When is your Fintech a success?

Richard can’t identify one specific point where the vision was validated and success became tangible. But he does reflect on the sense of validation the first few customers gave them. And the reassurance that their concept was worthwhile and the API was easy to use.

Currencycloud slots in between the banks and the corporations offering the service to their customers. A platform that levels the playing field so everyone has access to the best pricing for foreign exchange.

Another sense of validation came when they brought in Mike, the CEO, in 2012, who put a team around the idea and helped grow it to what it is today.

Compliance and regulations in Fintech

Richard jokingly refers to Currencycloud as a compliance company first, as working with other people’s money always comes with a sense of responsibility.

On Top of that, banks have always seen them as a high risk business, and the scrutiny they were placed under was always a high bar. Putting technology at the heart of everything they did, internally and externally, enabled them to remain lean whilst dealing with this higher level of scrutiny. It even meant they sometimes had to turn down exciting opportunities in new industries because it might ruin their pristine record; but as Richard mentions it was definitely worth it.

Should a startup build tools within or bring in partners?

Every startup team is faced with multiple instances where they need to decide which parts of their solution they build inhouse vs bringing in a partner to integrate a solution together. Richard’s advice on this is simple: if you can’t do it better yourself, make those partnerships.

Technology being the heart of everything they do, Currencycloud has partnered with great companies to make it a success. And Richard says it was worth the money every time, because it means your team of engineers can focus on making products which bring the most value to the market.

What happens after Visa acquires you?

Currencycloud was acquired by Visa in 2021. Richard loves working there now, as they have a common vision and purpose behind everything they do. Simply put, their joint focus is to “uplift everyone, everywhere, by being the best way to pay and be paid.”

A lot of trust is required to facilitate the success of technology when working with people’s money. Each team member needs to be motivated by, inspired by and fully understanding of what they do therefore so they can achieve this goal. Currencycloud is proud of their role as a trusted advisor in the foreign exchange market.

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