Interview: Alex Reddish, CCO at Tribe Payments

Interview: Alex Reddish, CCO at Tribe Payments

Learn about the inspiration behind Tribe Payments's State of Industry Report, the surprising findings and more with their CCO, Alex Reddish.

What was the inspiration behind the state of industry report (FinTech 2030) you have put together?

2020 has been a challenging year for everyone, including fintech. We wanted to look forward and talk about something positive. By some measures fintech has been around for a decade and so we wanted to talk about the future of the fintech industry and how it will change in the next decade. We were also keen to open up the discussion and find out how the rest of the industry was thinking.

We surveyed 125 fintech executives and collected opinions from a cross section of our industry—15 fintech leaders, all in different sectors from blockchain to insurtech—to find out how our colleagues predict our industry will change.

The report gives us a glimpse into that future. It makes clear that as the industry grows it will “disappear” as the lines become blurred between who is a fintech and who is not. While this may be where fintech is heading, it won’t happen by 2030. Regulation makes it necessary for financial services specialists to exist. But we’re confident that fintech in 2030 is going to look as different from 2020, as 2020 does from 2010.

Were there any findings about that, that surprised you?

We were pleasantly surprised by how resilient and upbeat fintech professionals remain in this time of crisis—but, looking back, this shouldn’t be too surprising as our industry was born out of the 2008 financial meltdown. However, the fact 85.6% of executives believe innovation is just set to continue over the next decade and the majority (75%) think the number of fintechs were only set to rise really shows how strong and positive our sector is.

2020 has seen a lot of consolidation; where do you stand on the Build, Buy or Partner discussion?

I’m always keen to think beyond our Tribe, and actually focus on what’s right for the ecosystem and the end user. There’s no one right answer to this question. But the pattern has been that the industry has moved from competition to collaboration. Why build something when a dedicated specialist has already done it? Why fix problems that have already been solved?

Particularly with the economic pressures we’re facing, partnership has to be the way to remain relevant. Tribe has a history of building tech in house and this lets us put the end-user front and centre—for example with new APIs that make us the first Open Banking issuer processor. But we also recognise the value of partnership. We cannot be the best at everything, and partnerships are key to creating the platforms and ecosystems that provide the absolute best service to our clients.

What can you tells us about your new partnership with CurrencyCloud?

We partnered with CurrencyCloud to provide a transparent foreign exchange service for small and medium businesses across Europe. Our customers will have access to real-time, wholesale FX rates, not just lowering the cost of making international payments, but making those costs more understandable.

In practice, this collaboration allows us to offer virtual accounts in 35 currencies, enabling customers to receive and store funds and make payments by using Currencycloud’s infrastructure. This will help our customers to scale and give them a competitive edge.

Do you see the UK payments industry at a crossroads?

We’re not so much at a crossroads but on an ongoing journey. A crossroads suggests that there are multiple roads forward, but the change undergoing payments is pretty obvious. We’re shifting away from card-based payment models and towards new and emerging payments models driven by new technologies such as real-time payments, Open Banking payments, cryptocurrencies and soon CBDCs.

Of course, while the direction of travel is obvious, we still have big choices on where we as an industry need to improve. Financial inclusion and environmental, social and governance challenges are areas where I’d like the payments industry to make a difference.

How can UK FinTech survive Brexit?

London will remain the global fintech leader. However, we do live in a globalised world, and our societies and economies do not work in isolation. UK fintech firms must look beyond our borders, whether that’s to Europe or further to the East.

There is of course precedents for countries existing physically within Europe but not being part of Europe, for example Norway. We’d expect, like Norway, we’d continue to adopt a lot of European financial regulation and maintain links with structures like SEPA. It may cause headaches but it’s not entirely uncharted waters.

At Tribe, we have two offices in Europe and we look to expand globally next year. We are also keen to continue partnering with businesses across the globe—European and not—that foster innovation and enable us to offer the market the best solutions possible.

Lastly you have been long term supporters of FinTech Connect; what are you looking to learn this year at the virtual event?

We are a forward thinking technology startup so FinTech Connect is a great place to network with like-minded companies. I’m excited to learn more about the role of data and how we can really embed finance within our daily lives. I want to see more than slides filled with the buzzwords ‘machine learning’ and ‘AI’—I want to see actual examples of those innovations in action. I’m also keen to hear about how technology can make lives better for both people and businesses.

Join Alex and the team at Tribe Payments at FinTech Connect here.