Route to Market Q&A: A Chat with TrueLayer
April 8th - 2021
Francesco Simoneschi, Co-Founder and CEO of TrueLayer
- Tell us about what you do. What sets you apart in the market?
- TrueLayer works in the world of open banking, which is the move towards lowering costs and increasing innovation in financial services by increasing competition between providers. Open banking has quickly grown into a global movement, with the UK, EU and Australia leading the way in terms of implementing new regulations.
It offers an opportunity to build a new financial network, based on open API architecture, that empowers innovators in every industry to create smarter financial services and build powerful products that customers love.
Myself and my co-founder and childhood friend, Luca Martinetti, saw an opportunity to make finance more accessible by exposing complex services as simple code. This would provide developers with the tools they needed to reinvent the system, enabling any business to integrate and benefit from fintech, and unlocking opportunity and growth for everyone.
When the UK announced its Open Banking initiative in 2016, we decided it was time to move to London and found TrueLayer. Today, we’re the biggest open banking player in the UK, with our platform routing over half of all UK open banking traffic. We work with fast-growing companies across different sectors, from startups to enterprises, enabling them to seamlessly integrate financial data, payments, and banking services into their product offering. Our clients include ANNA Money, Freetrade, Nutmeg, Plum, Revolut and Trading 212.
- What has been your biggest challenge so far and how have you overcome it?
- There are really two major challenges we face. The first is that financial services is a highly regulated market, which adds a lot of complexity and many different elements to consider. There are a lot of different organisations we need to collaborate with, including banks and regulators, to ensure we deliver the best possible experience to our customers.
The second challenge was that back when we founded the company, open banking was still an idea that was being shaped. So, we had to start with a blank piece of paper and think about how to build a company that required many other pieces to come together so we could build on top of those foundations. The reason we chose the UK was because there is a very forward-thinking regulator, and we knew we could learn so much in those early years that we could continue to apply to the company as it grew.
- How do you build and develop talent and elevate people to be at their very best?
A. It begins with giving people autonomy, empowering them to deliver, and incentivising them around the impact they are having. As we’ve grown, we’ve found that we’ve gravitated towards four values in team members that impact how we build products, how we treat each other, and how we interact with our partners and clients.
The first is to Value People. We are drawn to people that elevate each other and nurture learning and development for everyone. We encourage curiosity to drive exploration. There’s no place for politics, painful processes or pumped-up egos at TrueLayer.
The second is to Own It by practicing accountability to accelerate our actions. We build, make and do. We’re solution-oriented, not problem-focused. When we develop great products, we celebrate our successes. Equally, when we make mistakes, we reflect and use it as an opportunity to grow.
The third is to Think Big, which reflects how we channel our imaginations and push boundaries. That means building long term plans but always shipping, acting with urgency and taking calculated risks. We do the work, measure the data, analyse and iterate.
The fourth, which is focused on collaboration, we call Open Up. We believe that constant candid feedback is the most effective way to build something world-class, and that by opening up our creativity we can become more insightful, inventive and sympathetic. Passive aggressive attitudes don’t belong here – ever.
- How has investor Mouro Capital assisted you with tackling pain points?
- Having a backer who believes in your vision is so important. The Mouro Capital team have been trusted and close advisors to the company throughout our expansion journey. For me personally, the team has acted as a sounding board on commercial strategy, sustainable growth, and more. Having that level of support, beyond just the financial backing, is what founders are really looking for, and I’m delighted we have that with Mouro.
- Running a start-up is hard work – what advice would you give a budding entrepreneur out there?
- One of the things founders often don’t do enough is reflect on themselves. Being a founder means being extremely resilient and being able to go through a certain level of pain. The pain is the thing that allows you to evolve.
It’s a natural reaction to shy away from painful and hard things and instead focus on either what you’re naturally good at or what you enjoy doing the most. Over time this becomes problematic – you need to get out of your comfort zone if you want to make a difference.
If you’re not resilient then you’re essentially assuming that things will always go to plan, and as such end up optimising for the best case scenario. And, unfortunately, it is unlikely to work out that way.Founders must not shy away from challenges, because solving them is what will make you stronger and make your company more flexible to change. It requires a mentality of constant self-and company improvement, and recognising that if something is painful then that is likely what you need to focus on the most.
- What’s next for TrueLayer?
- Open banking is expanding in new and exciting ways. It is becoming the digital method for solving cost and complexities around payments, digital identity, and access to risk data. It is expanding into new geographies such as Australia, Brazil and Canada.
We really believe that payments are going to be the killer use case for open banking, and that it will become the default way to be online in the next five to ten years, displacing cards. If buy-now-pay-later has revolutionised credit payments online, it’s now time for open banking to do the same for debit payments.
We will continue to follow open developments globally, leveraging emerging use cases and building new products and services for our customers.