We talked to Marc Miller of WalletFi on how they deliver transaction intelligence and insights that deepen customer relationships through recurring payments.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Marc Miller: Thank you for asking. I’m very grateful to say everyone is safe and healthy, as we know many others that were not as fortunate. The pandemic has certainly presented a slew of challenges, whether personally and professionally, yet teamwork continues to win out. My wife and I have developed a balanced flow at home with two virtual middle schoolers, and our team at WalletFi has crushed it in a Work-from-Anywhere set-up.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded WalletFi.
Marc Miller: WalletFi is my second start-up and my first in software. My first start-up was Elevate Technology Solutions, a successful tech services company based in Boston. We started Elevate with no outside capital in 2009, in the middle of the Great Recession and grew it to a $17MM business by 2015, the year that I exited. Shortly after that, I was approached by my Co-Founder, Alain Glanzman, who I had come to know over a few mutual rounds of bad golf over the years. Alain was entering Business School and had an idea, which had since taken a couple of turns before we became WalletFi. We originally started as a B2C application and have since transformed into a B2B(2C) platform to address a much larger opportunity to help Community Financial Institutions and the partners that serve them.
How does WalletFi innovate?
Marc Miller: We think for innovation to be actionable, it must be a two-way street. WalletFi’s entirely cloud-based technology stack has been built based on a substantive understanding of our customers’ core needs.
From our experiences going through the FIS Accelerator (and their subsequent investment in us) to the deployment of our capability with the likes of Peoples Bank and others, we are uniquely positioned to react and respond to changing ideas, needs, and future technical opportunities that will enable institutions to better organize and analyze their customers’ data.
Equally important, we build technology to where people are going. We always have a focus on how the end-consumer, the bank customer, or credit union member, will benefit from our technology. Leaning on our roots in B2C, we push our partners to always have their customers’ best interests in mind and share in their customers’ financial success.
We also believe in going the extra mile for our customers. As FinTech grows and innovation accelerates, many smaller community institutions can be left behind because they don’t have the capacity, team, or know-how to implement these new solutions. We bridge that gap by offering advanced, innovative technological solutions but delivering them as out-of-the-box products that our customers can begin using and benefitting from quickly.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Marc Miller: Our customer base, community banks, and credit unions have always differentiated themselves on service. They know their customers and members on a personal level. Covid has completely disrupted this “moat.” While digitization in banking was already happening, the pandemic has been a primary factor necessitating banks and credit unions to rapidly accelerate the speed of their digitization efforts. These institutions have a wealth of data, yet most struggle to turn the data into action.
Like most people, I have been left with little choice but to increase my use of internet banking, pay my bills online and shop over the internet during the pandemic. Probably of no surprise, these are not the only changes to our buying behavior that were catalyzed by Covid.
While most of us found ourselves working, eating, working out, and educating at home, among other activities, we have purchased more subscriptions — whether it’s Netflix, Coursera, Zoom, Peloton, or simply an Amazon subscription for our groceries, and anything in between. A recent survey conducted by Recurly found, “The average number of subscriptions among consumers subscribed to at least one service was 2.9 in July, up from 2.6 in February. This equates to 535 million subscriptions in July, up 22 percent from the 439 million subscriptions consumers held in February.’ And, the data shows that this trend of turning to subscription services is gaining momentum.
It’s this kind of digital data that WalletFi leverages to seamlessly generate new and actionable insights for our customers.
We believe that every transaction represents an opportunity for these institutions to emotionally connect with the customer and reacquire the relationship. Better, cleaner, actionable data, and insights are the keys to providing an unmatched, personalized experience.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Marc Miller: We decided to pause our first equity capital raise in early 2020 due to Covid. Uncertainty set in with many VC’s, especially those that invest at a Seed Stage, causing them to pump the brakes on new investments and move into preservation mode for their current portfolio companies. We had to be scrappy, stretching every dollar to support our customers. We learned how dedicated our customers were to our relationship and our mutual success.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety?
Marc Miller: Covid made me reassess my priorities, as it did for many. I was forced to become more aware of what’s really important, which changed my mindset.
I’ve found that within every stressful moment, there is an opportunity to grow. I also hold many important meetings while taking long walks. Steve Jobs was onto something.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Marc Miller: We love being part of the FinTech ecosystem. One day you’re a competitor; the next, you’re a partner. The thing that I’ve most come to admire about our space is the openness and willingness of many founders to collaborate. Interestingly enough, the insights we’re delivering to our customers have a secondary effect and drive higher adoption rates of other fintech service offerings.
There will be winners and losers in the space. We will stay in the game with continuous innovation, collaboration, and raving clients. We’re driven by the core values of West Coast Vision, East Coast Hustle, and Southern Charm, which essentially translates to always being curious, confident, and genuine.
Your final thoughts?
Marc Miller: We learned this year that life could throw you curveballs you would have never imagined were possible.
Resilience and determination in the face of adversity always pay off. I cannot stress the importance of flexibility and teamwork. It’s what got us through this tough time, and it’s what will make us stronger moving forward.
As the great Robert Frost wrote, “The only way out is through.”
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