Interview: Travelex discuss their £25 million fund to support British fintech talent

By Nicole Miskelly | 24 November 2014

Travelex recently announced the set-up of their £25 million digital growth fund to invest in fintech companies and start-ups in London. As a part of their strategy, the foreign exchange (FX) firm is also starting a recruitment campaign and was involved in sponsoring the Bootstrapped initiative at this year’s Silicon Milkroundabout. bobsguide speaks to Travelex’s newly appointed Chief Digital Officer and former Google, eHarmony and Shutl executive, Sean Cornwell about their strategy to improve customer service and drive innovation.

Tell me about Travelex and the digital growth fund

Travelex can be described as a series of businesses across the financial services and retail markets around the FX market. Travelex provides services in many different areas, including the buying and selling of currency, pre-paid credit cards and international payments etc. The digital growth fund enables us to take advantage of the digital opportunities available at the moment, including the ability to better understand the way consumers interact with products and services. The fund is the vehicle which enables us to make strategic seed investments in interesting fintech and retail tech businesses.

The Digital Growth Fund supports British fintech talent, why did you decide to invest in this area and what do you hope to achieve?

Travelex is UK headquartered and London is the centre of financial services and fintech which is why it made sense to set-up the fund here. Some companies are simply creating digital siloes, but this is not about creating a digital siloe for us, digital is at the core of everything that we are doing. We hope that the fund helps us to get closer to the exciting new business models being tested by start-ups and opens the door to potential partnerships with these businesses. We also hope the fund enables us to get closer to innovation and potentially leads to acquisitions in the future.

Tell me more about your involvement with the Bootstrap initiative

The Bootstrap initiative helps small start-ups to attract key talent to grow their business. Sponsoring the initiative at Silicon Milkroundabout was part of our recruitment drive, to invest significantly in recruitment and build-up our capabilities. We are hiring people across product management, development, UI and UX design, data science and analytics to really accelerate our digital efforts within international payments, e-cards, e-wallets and cryptocurrencies etc. I think that cryptocurrencies are fascinating and although they may have a long way to go in terms of significant consumer adoption, there are however, some really interesting applications and uses for cryptocurrencies within financial services.

What are your views on collaboration between financial services companies and start-ups?

Start-ups are the growth engine of every economy. In all markets start-ups drive the majority of job creation, economic activity and growth. Larger companies such as Travelex have a lot to learn and can benefit from start-ups in terms of their business models and innovation. Equally, I believe that start-ups can gain a huge amount from partnering with companies like Travelex who have a global footprint and expertise in dealing with regulators around the world.

How do you see the future digital landscape developing and do you agree that if organisations do not embrace innovation then they will be left behind?

There will always be new successful players emerging in the market and a way for existing companies to stay at the forefront is to innovate and invest in new business models, new products and services. It is also essential that companies embrace innovation, rather than siloe themselves off from it. 

 

By Nicole Miskelly, bobsguide Lead Journalist

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