Financial IT: Hello Erez, first of all thanks for this interview. Could you please tell us more about GoCardless and what is your role in it?
Erez Mathan: At GoCardless we are building on top of the existing Direct Debit infrastructure to create a new, international payments network to rival credit cards. We now process £2bn worth of transactions for tens of thousands of businesses. This year we were named the fastest growing fintech company in the UK according to Deloitte.
As COO I’m responsible for the daily operation of the company. I'm in charge of leading the business supporting functions - Finance, People, Legal and CS. This often means going from meeting to meeting, speaking to everyone from our developers to the legal team. I’m always looking for ways to improve efficiency and encourage collaborations across our team and beyond. The company is now growing and there are many cross-company projects that need to be handled, with a lot of key stakeholders involved. In my role I need to articulate the key points in a centralised way that speaks to everyone while making sure that everyone is pushing in the same direction.
FinanciaI IT: GoCardless processes over £2bn each year for tens of thousands of businesses. How have you been able to grow the payment volume from zero to £2bn?
Erez: Despite well-documented consumer preferences for paying by Direct Debit, many businesses have historically shied away from using it due to the complexity and cost of getting access, managing payment submissions and reconciling Direct Debit with their other systems.
By using technology to abstract away the complexities of Direct Debit, GoCardless is opening up this previously inaccessible payment solution to small businesses, while simplifying and making it more cost effective for larger organisations. Our customer base ranges from startups and SMEs to big names such as Thomas Cook, Box.com and the Guardian and means much of our growth has come from word of mouth and referrals. In particular, many customers who use GoCardless to pay for a service or product soon realise it's perfect for their business too.
We've also partnered with major accounting and billing software platforms to integrate our offering into their service. Using GoCardless enables businesses of all sizes to streamline processes and reduce admin overheads. For example, by using GoCardless through accounting software you can automate what were once painful manual processes - such as payments and reconciliation.
FinanciaI IT: The digital revolution is reshaping the payments sector tremendously. In your opinion, how will the payments industry evolve over the next few years?
Erez: The digital revolution has already opened up access to banking infrastructure that was previously unreachable for small business and individuals. Now the latest wave of regulations, including the revised Payments Services Directive (PSD2) and the UK’s Open Banking Initiative, are set to lead to further advances, giving consumers more control of their financial data.
This is one of the reasons we’ve launched a new Open Banking Hub, a source of information tracking tech, regulatory and legal issues impacting the payment and fintech industries across Europe.
FinanciaI IT: What could Brexit mean for payments and fintech industries?
Erez: This is a topic that has been discussed time and time again. The uncertainty of the situation is making the whole industry uneasy. That’s why it’s key to stay on top of developments..
At GoCardless we are committed to delivering a seamless experience to all of our customers across Europe. This means we’ll take whatever steps necessary to ensure an uninterrupted service, regardless of the impact of Brexit, which could include seeking financial regulation in another EU member state
FinanciaI IT: What are the major plans you have for GoCardless?
Erez: We’re on a mission to build a global bank-to-bank payment network. One principle we live by is that transforming industries isn’t always about disrupting the incumbents. In fact, collaboration and education are equally as important.
Through our partnerships with major financial institutions, businesses across the eurozone can take recurring payments without the usual high fees, admin overheads or piles of paperwork. And it doesn’t stop there, now we’re on a mission to go beyond Europe to build a truly global bank-to-bank payment network.
Erez is COO of GoCardless and is responsible for supporting the core functions of the business including finance, legal and HR. An expert in driving processes to improve efficiency, Erez previously worked as head of operations for social investment platform Etoro.