1. Tell us about your background in the banking and financial industries?
Over the past decade I have started and run two FinTech companies that have provided critical payment-related products to financial institutions.
Memento (sold to FIS) was a enterprise fraud detection company that was the first to enable banks to systemically address the problems of employee payment fraud.
MineralTree enables banks to offer critical AP and Payment automation solutions to their clients, bringing efficiency to businesses and significant new fee income to banks.
2. What do you expect to be the biggest trend for financial institutions and FinTech companies in 2017?
I am not very good at picking out trends, unfortunately. But there are some things that always seem to make the headlines. Risk and compliance are always issues that need better answers. Revenue drivers – whether credit-related products or fee income products never fail to get the attention of banks.
That said, we’re entering a phase of overall growth where interest rates are headed upward. That could mean a lot of things – including a decreased pressure on banks to drive fee income.
For commercial payments – where we spend most of our time – we’re definitely seeing a strong uptick on the part of banks to offer more robust solutions to their middle market clients.
3. What challenges are financial institutions facing with regard to their business customers that need to be addressed?
Well, we certainly find it very curious that financial institutions often are simply unaware of what new products and solutions their commercial clients need! Most FIs simply assume that their portfolio of products sufficiently meet client requirements. But even a rudimentary analysis of usage and adoption of (for example) Treasury Management, Integrated Payables and other disbursement products will show relatively low adoption against the opportunity.
4. How do you see banks working with FinTech companies like MineralTree to address these challenges?
Hopefully less as vendors, and more as partners. MineralTree sees banks are a critical part of the overall payment ecosystem – as regulated entities, they are able to offer payment products at a scale that very few other non-bank entities can match. At the same time, companies like MineralTree think outside the box, and have a lot of insight to offer banks: on products, on pricing, on go-to-market strategies, and on complementing their native solutions with our own. In the end, we all care about delighting customers while driving new revenue streams, and there’s a natural symbiotic relationship between us.
5. Why do companies still struggle to automate Accounts Payable and what does this mean for financial institutions?
Accounts Payable is a manual, paper-based and time-consuming process for many organizations. Deciding to automate Accounts Payable is often a reactive decision. As companies grow, AP teams are responsible for more and more vendor invoices, so they need to find a better way to manage their process. We’re starting to see AP teams take a proactive approach to automation as they hear success stories from their peers who are earning rebates on AP spend and optimizing their workflows.
This puts financial institutions in a unique position to help their business clients who need easier ways to process vendor payments. Traditional [consumer] bill-pay doesn’t integrate with accounting systems, so it actually creates more work. MineralTree helps financial institutions offer their clients an easy-to-use solution that handles their invoice-to-payment workflow and integrates with their accounting system. By offering a product like MineralTree, financial institutions create long-term client loyalty and increase non-interest fee income.
6. MineralTree’s has quite a few successful bank partnerships already, what’s next?
To date, we have 15 bank partners who white-label our solution for their business clients. This number will continue to grow in 2017 and we have some exciting partnerships on the horizon. Last year, we announced a strategic partnership with Visa that enables Visa virtual card payments (VPA) through the MineralTree platform. Partnerships like these help our financial institution partners and we’re working to form additional strategic partnerships this year. You’ll be hearing a lot from us in 2017 – stay tuned!