After growing four companies, Teodor Blidăruş said “yes” to technology once again by launching FintechOS financial technology platform in 2018. This year, the business was propelled to the next level by launching a new upgraded version called FintechOS 20 — Genie. Which is predicted lead to increase in turnover of over 450%, according to his expectations.
According to Teodor Blidăruş, CEO and co-founder of FintechOS, demand for technology that allows banks, insurers and other financial services companies to transform the digital customer experience has never been higher. Just look at the success of disrupting and innovating brands such as Monzo or Revolut.
“When we say that they behave as them [Monzo or Revolut], we refer to a hyper-personalised customer experience, speed to launch new products and services in the market and, not least, operational efficiency”, states Blidăruş.
Being part of the insatiable demand for digital transformation looks good for FintechOS. In 2018, the company registered 1.1 million Euros in revenue. This year’s target is expected to exceed this figure by over 450%, with similar growth predicted in 2020. Accessible and affordable pricing of this technology has been key. “There are companies that start collaboration with budgets of several thousand Euros per month, while others are reaching contracts of over 1 million Euros per year. Some want a single out-of-the box solution whilst others want the full FintechOS TaaS (Technology as a Service) solution.” says Blidăruş. “This is the beauty of the model. We offer technology that you can democratize. It can be utilised by companies of every size and stage of maturity. From established global banks and insurers, looking to streamline processes to deliver a personalised journey. A challenger wanting ready to deploy apps that can be easily customised. Or a start-up wanting open source, ready-built, off-the-shelf solutions to disrupt quickly. There’s never been a more volatile, disruptive or exciting time to be in finance.”
Although most of the players with whom the company currently collaborates come from the banking and insurance market, Blidăruş says that FintechOS technology is highly agile and adaptive. “At the moment, we do have clients in other financial sectors as well. However, looking at the size and position of the company today, it is good to keep a single focus. The main reason for this is due to our desire to provide significant added value.”
So far, FintechOS has received investments of about 3.5 million Euros, of which around 2 million Euros have been directed towards the launch of a new version of the platform called FintechOS 20 — Genie. The latest version comes with extensive new functionality related to the hyper-personalisation of the customer experience. Especially through the apps, services and solutions developed by using FintechOS technology. “A bank or insurer can now quickly create and deploy a 100% personalised customer experience. Personalising products, services, prices, risk analysis and all the financial regulatory and compliances services required. What’s more, all communication and content can easily personalised. The new version of FintechOS technology is first and foremost about how we can deliver hyper-personalisation and consumerization of financial services to everyone.”
A second feature is the automation of internal processes. “In a financial company there are a lot of processes that involve the human factor, and FintechOS uses artificial intelligence, machine learning and automation, to reduce all these processes from days and hours to minutes and seconds. To reduce them from 10s of people to a few. Delivering not just tangible efficiencies and financial benefits, but also customer satisfaction and loyalty.”
The latest functionality refers to democratizing access to innovations by transforming the way technology can be used. “Genie has a development environment called the Innovation Studio. This is where non-technical people, such as product managers, marketing managers or business consultants, can easily build highly sophisticated customer experiences, which until now were only possible with teams of extremely experienced developers and in an extremely large number.”
FintechOS currently has over 30 clients in ten international markets and operates with a team of nearly 90 employees. Brands such as NN, Erste, Vienna Insurance Group, Orange, Transylvania Bank, Hyperion Group and TBI Bank are part of the ever-expanding European portfolio. With, not surprisingly, long-term plans including entering the US market. However, for now, Blidăruş says he is keen to focus on the main states and regions in Europe: UK, Western Europe, Nordics, Benelux and DACH (Germany, Austria and Switzerland), along with the local market and Central and Eastern Europe, where there has already been exceptional uptake for the business’ technology. “Our plans for the next 9–12 months are to develop operations in Europe, in all the above mentioned regions, and probably by the end of next year we will strategically move to the US and Asia. At the moment, tactically, we are there anyway. We already have clients, partners, especially in the Southeast Asia area, where there is a large financial hub.”
Although FintechOS has evolved rapidly thanks to the highly experienced management team which has contributed to rapid growth it hasn’t been without some issues and learnings. Specifically, when the business started to expand into new territories and work with the partner ecosystems where there were factors that couldn’t be anticipated in advance. Such as the cultural factor, the way people collaborate or how well they do it. “At EU level, a big challenge is that the legislation is different. I used to think that, as a company in the EU, we can hire people without problems. In fact, you find that it is a legal challenge whenever you want to hire someone who is not necessarily in the country where you have a physical presence. Currently, the company is present in Bucharest, Amsterdam and London, but we also employ in Copenhagen, Vienna or Warsaw. Often, we find the legal requirements of hiring people extremely complex when we hoped it should be simple to create new jobs,” explains Blidăruş.
Another challenge is that Europe seems to have different levels of maturity. “When we are preparing something locally in our original established market, we are well-known. But when you expand into the western region for example, a lot of assumptions are challenged. And you always discover that you have more competitors than you thought. Again, when you go to Asia you are in a completely different financial ecosystem. With other products and other services as a priority to transform. Naively, many think that Asia is Asia. But, in fact, it’s India, it’s China, it’s Southeast Asia. Countries as big as and as diverse as Europe. So, your challenges become more than the usual need to scale up, not run out of money and hire good people locally. In fact, there are many things besides culture, processes, legislation and legal.”
When it comes to competitors, Teodor Blidăruş says that FintechOS fundamentally changes how technology is used by financial services. Literally transforming how transformation is achieved. That’s because it sees its competitors are those banking and insurance tech companies and internal departments that have delivered technology for the last 20–30 years. They have all failed to evolve at speed and become extremely slow and unagile, despite having very big budgets and a depth of resources. They also continue developing very closed systems and have no real interest in innovating and producing a fundamental change in financial services. And that is because they are part of the traditional system. “FintechOS is a company in which technology is permissive, open to everyone, not just to technical people. It creates a powerful system in which anyone who wants to, can harness our technology and innovate. FintechOS technology offers all the traditional solutions in an open source way. I honestly believe this has the fundamental potential to help financial services companies to focus on the customer and on everything that creates a personalised experience that always puts the customer first.
Blidăruş continues, “Often there is an unspoken or not very discussed uncomfortable truth. That is that the technology of those who have built technology for financial services over the past 20 years is the limiting factor for true change. “
There is no doubt that Teodor Blidăruş is a man on mission. “I am passionate about technology and specifically financial services for good reason. Because I believe that financial services, if correctly understood, have the opportunity to change the world both individually and at the economic ecosystem level. By transforming how we use and share technology we can transform millions of lives.”
For future entrepreneurs, the FintechOS CEO advises not to spend too much time thinking about it before embarking on a task. “I’ve seen a lot of people thinking about if, how and when. I believe that you can only get out of the tunnel of uncertainty by doing things. My advice for those who are at the beginning of the road is to stop thinking so much and to do things. Because only by doing things do you understand better. And create real transformation.
For more than 20 years, Teo has led the roll-out of financial services technology for banks and insurance companies worldwide. During this period he crafted several companies from ground up. Three of them are now serving Fortune 500 customers in global markets and have increasingly high valuations.
Teo is the Founder, CEO and Head Product Strategist of FintechOS, a company that deploys its technology in more than 20 markets on 4 continents and is backed by some of the most reputable VCs in Europe.
This article was originally published on BusinessMagazin.