Advanced Payment Solutions Limited, trading at APS financial (APS) is not a bank, but a regulated digital banking services provider that has been leading the FinTech challenge to banks for more than 10 years. As a company, APS provide current accounts to SMEs and consumers, along with credit propositions which are alternatives to traditional bank accounts.
At APS, we do not believe in barriers, we aim to provide a simple and smart answer to payment and banking services that meet the needs of the modern day, digitally savvy customer. From our consumer and business debit cards to currency cards and alternative lending products, we are changing the very nature of how financial services work.
In regards to APS’s client base, many of them are just like us, in the sense they are start-ups and early entrepreneur organisations with a great idea. One of the foremost things on their mind is getting a business bank account, which in our current environment, is time-consuming and challenging in the UK. SMEs can specifically get a current account with us within five minutes, as opposed to travelling to an actual branch, they can have a similar account. Everything we do as a company is digital and online, which we believe gives the end-user a superb customer experience.
The leadership figures within APS play a crucial role behind driving innovation, by providing products to businesses and consumers which will allow them to thrive, without too much understanding of the idiosyncrasies of the workings of a traditional bank account.
When it comes to FinTech, the one differentiator we have is that APS are payment experts, and it is the strong leadership and expertise at the senior level that really understands the payment ecosystem. While a lot of people in the industry have great ideas, we compliment it with a rich knowledge of how the payment ecosystem works. The payment environment is a complex one, indeed without the 20-30 years’ experience of understanding the benefits of the ecosystem that we operate in, we cannot create those innovations and really deliver them without our undoubted expertise.
As CEO of APS, I believe you should always try and hire people who are smarter than you. We try to take the democracy out of our decision making and apply a flat, collaborative approach as we believe that we are all equal in delivering our service to the end-user. Providing every member of staff with the knowledge of how well or poorly the company is performing is something I have done every single month since operations began, this gives them a sense of inclusion as part of the company’s success.
At the beginning of my career, I was a customer service representative for one of the largest banks in the United States, which really grounded me with some very early views of the customer experience in the financial services industry. Everything I learnt here, I took on board as I completed my graduate degree in Business Analytics. I was very interested in taking data and turning it into information, so this is something I did early in my career by building one of the largest SQL databases at Visa.
At Providian, they were looking to expand internationally, and back then I was part of a team of five individuals who started up a monoline credit card operation. As chief operations officer for Providian, I was very much embedded into the payment ecosystem, which really provided me with a tremendous foundation for understanding how an effective organisation works. We built a huge portfolio and sold it at one of the largest premiums to Barclaycard in 2002.
Although I enjoyed a brief period at Barclaycard, I felt an entrepenurial need to start APS as I identified a big gap in the market for products which meet the needs of customers who were very dissatisfied with their banking services. Over the last 11 years, APS financial has gone from strength to strength, making it one of the leading non-banks in the UK today.
As a company, not only do we have to build our own business, but APS also has to keep the regulatory environment aligned to the needs of nonbanks.
We are proving every day that we can provide banking products without being licensed as a bank. Although regulated ourselves, it has always been the case that banks have certain advantages over ourselves.
APS constantly find ourselves driving the industry, in order to create a level playing field which will allow all non-banks the opportunity to have access to payment ecosystems and leverage those, so that customers can receive similar if not better products than traditional banks offer.
At present, the biggest challenge for APS is hiring the right talent and skillsets which will allow us to grow as a company. As we are growing fast, trying to find and retain the right talent to ensure that we have the best systems to manage the servicing and support of these customers, is crucial. We hope to continue these innovations, so we can achieve the rapid growth rates we have witnessed during recent years.
APS’s success has proved that you do not need to be a traditional bank in order to provide banking services. Since our inception, we have seen a lot of challenger banks come in and get a lot of publicity, but we have proved there are many ways in which you can provide a better product without the burden and costs of being a traditional bank. Going forward, if we can continue to thrive as a company and maintain our reputation in the industry as a leader in digital banking services, then we are confident our future will be a positive one.