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Five With Fidel #5 | Kevin Akerman, VP of Global Strategic Initiatives at Fidel

Wow, Episode Five is it? Time really does fly when you’re meeting the best and brightest in the payments world, eh?

We enjoyed chatting to Fidel’s own Siobhan so much in our last episode, we decided to stick around and see who else was free for a chat. The call was answered from sunny Lisbon, with our new VP of Global Strategic Initiatives, Kevin Akerman.

Originally hailing from the US, Kevin spent 11 working at Visa, where he became a piece of Fidel history too, as the first to sign a commercial agreement between Fidel and Visa. Now, he’s going to be focused on unlocking revenue and new value with Fidel’s strategic partners through product development, GTM propositions and new partnerships around the world.

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1| Hey Kevin, Firstly, welcome to the team! We’d love to hear about how you started working in Partnerships?

Thanks, it’s great to be here! Early in my career at Experian and MBNA, I got a taste for working with product teams, building strategies and enterprise relationships and realized it was my true passion. Through this, I gained a huge variety of product expertise, from merchant data solutions, to loyalty products, to consumer debit and credit installments. It was also a career that allowed me to work all over the world, including the US and around Europe, before settling in Lisbon, today.

The product teams I worked in or led were highly data-orientated, both in the approach we took to finding solutions and the products themselves. In some cases, my team built the products, sometimes with external help, and then we had to go find partnerships to distribute those new products. Often, we used those partnerships to enter new sectors or build new things we didn’t have the expertise to do in-house. An example you might be familiar with was when I signed the first commercial agreement with Fidel on behalf of Visa back in my previous role!

I’ve found working with partners to be a great way to stay personally relevant, too. Today, many of those I called partners in my jobs, I now consider friends.

2 | What convinced you to jump from a large, global network to Fidel?  

I was familiar with Fidel from my days at Visa and believed in the direction they were going in as a company. The great thing about a company like Fidel is that we can move extremely fast around a new idea or new partner. I can also have a material impact on both company strategy and revenue, which is very appealing to me. It felt like a move where I would find my feet quickly, could make an immediate impact and be a part of the exciting journey Fidel is on as it expands into new, global markets.

3 | Given Visa’s position in the ecosystem, partnerships must have been vital - can you share how partnerships played a role in Visa’s growth?

Partnerships have become a vital part of growth for many large companies.  The days of trying to build everything in-house are long gone and the pace, particularly in the payments and tech space, makes it impossible for large, global companies to keep up without joining forces with fintechs that can move faster.

4 | As you settle into your new role at Fidel, what are some of your key focus areas over the coming months?

Scaling. We are extremely fortunate at Fidel and credit goes to Dev, Andre and the rest of the team for getting Fidel positioned for growth with a resilient business model. We are now seeing a lot of pent up demand from our global partners that want to leverage Fidel’s APIs in new and exciting ways.  My focus will be making sure we solidify the right partnerships and make the right strategic decisions that enable Fidel to expand not only geographically, but also through new products and new sectors.

5 | And finally, you’re a soccer fan, so we have to ask for your opinion on this one. Who is the true G.O.A.T - Messi or Ronaldo? (Answer carefully, bearing in mind you’re joining the Lisbon office)

This is an easy one: Ronaldo - and not because I now live in Portugal. It’s because my wife is Brazilian and would divorce me if I picked an Argentinian as the GOAT.

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You can connect with Kevin on Linkedin here if you’d like to say hi. Make sure to look out for our next Five with Fidel episode - you can subscribe to our blog here to stay on top of all things Fidel.