Tell us about you, your career, how you founded or joined Nium
Michael Bermingham: Nium was started together with my co-founder Prajit, back when we were both living overseas and had trouble sending money back home. Prajit had the plan to start Nium and with our combined backgrounds, we were able to focus on launching our service between both our strengths and experience. The company has grown from its initial focus on consumer remittance into a global fintech infrastructure platform for consumers and SMEs, banks/FIs and large enterprises.
Before Nium, my background was in Over-the-Counter (OTC) Derivatives and Rolling Spot FX. I lead Teams to obtain licensing for Future Commissions Merchants (FCMs) in global countries to offer derivative. I managed operations, compliance and risk for firms based in Asia, Oceania, and Europe. The broad view of compliance and my regulatory background has been essential in expanding Nium’s business globally.
At Nium, aside from working on risk and compliance initially, I built global teams to manage the ongoing functions of running a financial services firm. The oversight of Finance, Audit, Operations, and Client Services provides an understanding of the requirements involved with launching a new services or regulated entity.
How does Nium innovate?
Michael Bermingham: The core hypothesis of Nium today is that we believe everybody wants to be a FinTech. Our vision is that we want to embed financial services into any app, which has a large distribution capability. This has been played out today in front of us – Google wanting to do deposit accounts in the U.S. and Facebook trying to do Libra. If you look at Asia, Grab, which is like an Uber equivalent, is also trying to get into financial services.
Focusing on that core, we started looking into who we could bring to help us realize our vision –who has the experience, who is a good fit for our company to utilize their experience and expand into these products. We have developed most of our product capabilities through hiring the right people in the right places and building our tech stack and our product offering around these packages.
Of course, the people is just one aspect of it. The most important part of innovation is looking around you and focusing on the problem that we are trying to solve. It is important to keep the customers in mind, to continuously put yourself in the shoes of your customers and see what they would like to experience as they go about their payments.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business and how are you coping?
Michael Bermingham: The introduction of social distancing and lockdown measures across the globe have accelerated use of digital financial products and services for both consumers and businesses. Businesses who have traditionally rejected digitization can no longer rely on cash or check payments and are rapidly looking to integrate digital tools to help reach out to consumers who are now making purchases from the comfort of their own homes. Consumers, too, are turning to applications and online payment tools that will enable them to do fund transfers without stepping out of their houses.
While there is concern from authorities on the impact of remittance due to the economic downturn caused by the pandemic. Nium has a well-diversified portfolio of clients and product offerings. Our focus on both individual as well as retail customers, along with the fact that we do not have a concentration of travel and other affected use cases in our portfolio, has cushioned the impact well. That said, we know these are unpredictable times and have doubled down on making our business even more resilient.
Did you have to make difficult choices and what are the lessons learned?
Michael Bermingham: When launching a start-up and growing at the rate we did from 2015 to today, there are many difficult decisions that needed to be made. The key to overcoming these decisions is to continuously reflect on our growth journey, identify the key parameters that surround the success and learn from it, while also reflecting on areas that need improvement.
The main lesson we have learnt is to create products and services that will appeal to our clients’ needs, and that which also allow us to scale, as opposed to creating the products that we want and can scale and hoping that clients will confirm to it. Again, it is important to keep the customers in mind and in focus, and not be sucked into the business vacuum.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety, how do you project yourself and Nium in the future?
Michael Bermingham: Building a seasoned Team with the right experience and insight into the future plans of Nium reduces the stress of growing. Having industry leaders and providing them with the ability to inject their opinions and past experiences into creating products and services that have provided prior success, reduces the anxiety of launching new products and improving our current offering.
Nium’s vision is to embed world class FinTech solutions in every platform we touch. Our goal is to make the movement of money seamless by devising elegant and modular solutions for complex business problems. Be it a new-age digital bank or a traditional industry behemoth, we pride ourselves on creating financial infrastructure for every level of sophistication.
We offer modular and scalable solutions across the spectrum of payments, issuance, processing and collections. Using our stack, clients can go from fulfilling a specific business need to creating an entire neobank. We are regulated globally and have operations across six continents. We currently cater to more than 130 million end customers across a 100+ countries, and I believe we are on the way to becoming the global leader in fintech solutions.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Michael Bermingham: As mentioned earlier, Nium offers modular financial solutions for complex business problems – businesses can choose to either adopt Nium’s full suite of products from card issuing, remittance to creating an entire neobank. Our business also includes a consumer remittance arm. That full suite of solution is something that is unique to Nium, so when others talk about competition, they are referring to a competitor for one of our modules. There isn’t any competitor who offers as comprehensive a solution as we have.
Your final thoughts
Michael Bermingham: We’ll need to continue to keep our focus and build scalable solutions, and expand the offering to businesses in more markets. We are regulated in six continents currently and look to improve that offering.
Visit Nium’s website here: http://www.nium.com
Our consumer and SME arm here: http://www.instarem.com