ALUMNI SPOTLIGHT: Railsbank building API based financial innovation platform

ALUMNI SPOTLIGHT: Railsbank building API based financial innovation platform

29-Sep-2019 by sarah-shokr

After a few years of working in different areas in the financial industry, Nigel Verdon founder of RailsBank realized that the banking industry is not adapted to the digital world. This is why in 2016, he founded RailsBank, an open banking API and platform that gives regulated and un-regulated companies access to global banking. 

RailsBank has joined Startupbootcamp FinTech London program in 2016, and since then the company has achieved great achievements and milestones. Earlier this month the company raised $10M in series A funding. We sat down with Nigel to know more about Railsbank journey!

Hi Brad! Tell us something about your professional background and how you started RailsBank.

Nigel: My first job was not in finance, but as an engineer in the motor industry. There I saw at first hand how the world of banking could learn many things from this industry like the discipline of manufacturing and the parallels to Straight Through Processing (STP) in financial markets.

I moved from the motor industry to financial services, and when at Swiss Bank (now UBS), it was clear to me that they were the first real innovator to leverage technology in the capital markets area of banking. This allowed them to leapfrog the competition, in such areas as superior risk management, better options pricing and leverage this “Internet thing” when it appeared.

When I came to found my first startup with three co-founders from Goldman Sachs and ABN, it was based on my experiences at Swiss Bank. We took the “Internet enablement of capital markets” to many amazing customers including Goldman Sachs and UBS.

In 2007 I founded Currency Cloud. I had just left Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein and the inspiration behind Currency Cloud was my experience of a traditional currency broker. He (name of employer not mentioned!) was charging me 4% “no commission.” He also asked me to fax back my confirmation note and payment details to them! The thing is, I didn’t own a fax machine!  This currency industry was so archaic, I decided it needed changing and hance Currency Cloud.

Our focus at Currency Cloud was jump-starting many fintech 1.0 clients like Transferwise, Revolut, Azimo and World Remit. These companies were born out of a demand by consumers to take more control over their finances after the trust lost in banks in the aftermath of the credit crunch. 

Yet, my career had shown me, and what was enforced at Currency Cloud, was that both the banking infrastructure and the banking industry itself, was clearly not adapted to the new digital world. And what’s more, they had no clue about what a well designed API led business should look like. So, this led me to co-founding my current startup Railsbank, which I created in 2016 with my fellow entrepreneur Clive Mitchell. We have known each other since we were 13 and he was the head of business development for my first startup, Evolution.

What pain point are you solving and how?

Nigel: The main pain point that we solve for customers is the ability to solve any financial use-case that they are trying to build through using our super flexible APIs. The secondary prain points we solve for are; speed from idea to live product; ability to “go global” fast with no friction; and removing the complexity of managing and integrating to multiple vendors.

We have a very clear proposition which is understood by the market. Railsbank is an API based financial innovation and growth platform, designed for developers and product managers to rapidly conceptualize, prototype, build, launch and scale a financial services business, whether it be in one country, or around the world.

The Railsbank platform is unique in that it goes beyond technology to also provide financial services operations and regulation for customers. Railsbank conceives of the platform as a “complete financial services utility” enabling any customer to build, launch and operate their financial services business rapidly and safely.

What markets are you currently targeting and are you planning to expand your business in other markets?

Nigel: Our intention has always been to offer our products across a global market and we have just opened an office in Singapore. This will allow us to make the most of our opportunities in Asia and beyond. We also have offices in Lithuania, Sri Lanka, Luxembourg and Vietnam and have plans in place for expansion in the US and Australia.

Any recent progress and achievements?

Nigel: We are growing at a very significant rate, not only in terms of new locations, but also our headcount has trebled in the last few months as we have geared-up for expansion. Our client list is also very impressive and growing, as more and more companies see the value the Railsbank proposition. 

And most recently we completed a $10m Series A funding round, led by Moneta Capital and joined by CreditEase, Clocktower Technology Ventures, Singapore Life and existing investors including Firestartr.

What are your goals for the next year?

Nigel: To continue our current expansion strategy which sees Railsbank educating a wider market about its API product. The aim is always to continue the high standards we have set ourselves, whether this is sales, or customer care. We will also be opening new offices in key territories. We will also be launching Railsbank capabilities across SE Asia.

Tell us more about your current team.

Nigel: Clive and I have worked hard to put together a Board and a company that underlines our belief in experience and diversity. We not only now have one of the best senior fintech teams, but also one of the best in the wider financial services industry; one that reflects our entrepreneurial drive and ambition. And, most importantly, the Board can draw on huge experience in the fintech, tech, banking, insurance, ecommerce and consulting sectors across Europe and SE Asia.

The Board reflects diversity, with a third of members women, which echoes the fact that Railsbank is probably the only fintech globally made up of equal proportion of men and women. Diversity has always been a key factor as we have grown the company and we will continue this trend in the future as we believe that diversity of people and thinking creates winning teams.

How did the SBC London Fintech Accelerator supported your growth?

Nigel: Railsbank was Startup in Residence at SBC. This gave us the opportunity to plug in to SBC’s network of founders, mentors and banks that continues to pay dividends to this day. For example, we met with founder just this week that was originally sat on the next desk at SBC and with whom we’re now exploring a partnership that could bring us both massive new revenue.

Final words of wisdom to fellow founders.

Nigel: Don’t ever give up and remain laser focused on customers.  Stay committed to what you believe in and see it through. But, always be sure that you have researched your customers, your product, that you understand your market and have tested your proposition. Once you are convinced you have got something that people will want, it is all down to grit and determination!