In conversation with Marcel Van Oost on all things Fintech
Marcel Van Oost, known by many as the man with his finger on the pulse of Fintech, shares his view on how to win the challenger bank race, areas of Fintech yet to be cracked, ones to watch and more.
1. Why Fintech?
I rolled in to the Fintech space 10 years ago after quitting my job at a credit card acquirer. I left to pursue a gap I had identified in the market whereby our large ecommerce clients had limited understanding of the payments landscape and the alternative options available to them at the time. After three years of consulting, I thought I could do it better myself and started my own payments company, Qantani. We exited the business in 2017 and since then I’ve been sharing my expertise, working as an advisor to fintechs and neobanks globally.
2. An area in finance yet to be cracked?
Digital banking is clearly a space that will continue to be disrupted, particularly in markets such as the US and LATAM. The likes of Monzo, N26 and Revolut have put much of their attention on the biggest market – retail. Whilst they are doing a great job on the product, they have yet to crack the business model and start making a profit.
Business banking start-ups are ones to watch as well. Incumbents are leaving a lot on the table with SMEs being greatly underserved. Everyone is looking to the big names however I believe some new players will emerge and execute with a profitable business model.
3. Outside of London, where in Europe do you foresee the most innovation coming from?
London is absolutely still the centre of Fintech and it’s hard to compare any city to it. Outside of London, I would of course say my hometown Amsterdam where payments seem to be in our genes. Berlin – being the birth place of N26 – is also thriving and I’m excited about a number of companies I’m close to there.
4. Do you feel the market is too saturated?
Not at all. This is just the beginning…
5. What will it take to be the winning challenger bank?
Today it’s so easy to register for a neobank, the only way to really keep people is by building the best brand. Time will tell but I believe the Apple of banking will eventually win this one…
6. Which Fintech events would you recommend going to?
7. Which news article that has surprised you most this year?
It has to be N26 using Brexit as their excuse for exiting the UK market.
8. If you could interview any founder?
Oleg Tinkov for sure. Love him or hate him, this guy is a legend.
9. Ones to watch?
If I had to name a couple I’d say Berlin based crypto friendly neobank Spot9. I love the challenge they are tackling and I believe crypto is the future. They’ll be launching soon and will be offering services such as crypto ATMs.
The second is Belgium based Cake.app, which is an aggregation and insight tool that anonymises and sells their user’s data and invites them to take a share of the profits. In essence, they are striving to be the only profitable banking app…and their customers get paid for it!
I would also like to mention frost.app – I can’t say too much about it yet, but it is going to be ‘cool’ for sure.
10. Favourite Fintech product that you use?
I’ll go for the safe answer this time and support my local challenger bank, Bunq. They have great products and an intriguing CEO Ali Niknam. Their Greencard, which plants trees as it’s users spend, is a great example of successfully selling subscriptions by tapping into causes people care about.