Money20/20 Disruptors: Interview Highlights with Fidel CEO & Founder, Dev
*This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
- Do pineapples belong on pizza?🍕
I’m torn, I used to be against it, totally against it before. I can tolerate it today but if you asked me should it be there or not - I’d probably say no.
2. Give us your elevator pitch (you have 20 seconds)🏢
Fidel is a financial infrastructure API, making it easier for developers to build applications on top of payment cards. A key differentiator between us and other fintech plumbers is the fact that you capture the payment event in real-time. We launched in the UK about 2 years ago, [and today we have] around 1000 developers connected to us globally. We’ve tripled our growth year on year, with customers including British Airways, Royal Bank of Canada, intu, and Klarna. If you’re looking to build a different user experience on top of cards, we have the toolkits.
3. Who is your biggest competitor - and what are you doing differently to them?🤔
I think we find ourselves in a pretty unique spot. We provide the plumbing that makes it easy for other service providers to connect to payment information from their users. In that aspect, we’re pretty similar to other fintech plumbers like Plaid, Tink, and Truelayer. But the source of the data we capture is the key differentiator: we have built the plumbing on top of the card network to capture real-time transaction data as opposed to bank statement data, for example. What that means is the dataset is quite unique on its own. I’d say we exist in the fintech API space but we've got a bit of a unique spot in terms of what we deliver to the market.
4. What were you most worried about at the beginning of your journey that turned out to not be an issue at all?😎
I’m not really the worrying type, to be honest. I think that’s probably played a lot in my favour. You just have to get comfortable with knowing you’ll never have all the answers; confident enough to persevere in a given direction, and know that things have a way to figure themselves out, generally.
5. On average, how many hours a week did you work in the last year?⏱
I don't really count, to be honest, but I’d say due to the nature of being a start-up founder, you’re sort of always-on, by default. I do think during this period of time, COVID specifically, it does become a little more relevant. You’re no longer going in and out of work. You’re waking up, sitting in front of the computer around 8 and finishing sometimes around 11 or 12. It’s truly always-on- but I do like it, it’s a choice.
6. What's your tactic for handling a difficult situation?🤝
I try to take myself out of a situation generally. I try to get myself out of that specific situation and look at it as objectively as possible. If it's a business decision, for example, I try to think about what my primary role is as the CEO of the company - what are my duties? I then try to base the decision off of what you’re duty-bound to do. It makes it a lot easier to overcome some of the personal or emotional things that might distort the vision, and just debate every single outcome trying to get to a conclusion. I’ve also realised that sometimes you don’t even have to always make a decision, and sometimes the answer reveals itself.
7. What’s been your biggest mistake and number one thing you learned from it?🧠
I think there’s a ton of mistakes, but if I could put it on one thing, it would be not acting fast enough or on your gut instinct first-time.
8. What’s your favourite efficiency tool?📝
9. Do you have an exit strategy? Yes or no?🚨
No, I think I generally have a 3-month plan and a 3-year view and that’s all I need. One thing I’ve learned from this whole journey is that you can never have all the answers and planning that far ahead is a bit pointless - it’s probably not gonna play out that way anyway. So having a short-term focus and long-term direction is usually enough.
10. How long do you think you have before you start getting disrupted?💻
I think what we're doing is quite specific. Tor replicate the plumbing that we have built, there is only one path. You have to take the same journey, knock on the same doors, and do the same types of integrations to get there. Given that, if somebody were to do exactly what we're doing and they’re starting today, it would take them at least two or three years.
11. If you become ‘Mark Zuckerberg’ rich, what are you going to spend your money on?🤑
I’d put it back into society. There’s only so much you can do to improve your basic needs, from a life quality standard. So then it’s really about ‘how can I put my resources back into things and causes that will have truly transformational impacts on humanity.’ I think everybody wants to leave their time on planet earth with something that has helped multiple generations of people to come. That’s how I’d think about it.
12. Who inspires you?🤯
There are a ton of people, but I would say those that have made or caused transformational waves of changes.
13. Who is your favourite account on Twitter and why?🐦
I don’t actually use Twitter!
14. What book would you recommend to entrepreneurs and why?📚
‘The Power of Now’ by Eckhart Tolle. I do think a big part of being an entrepreneur or a founder is to manage your own mental state. If you can manage or balance your own mental state, you can get through almost anything. This book does a good job of relaying that. Then there's 'Principles' by Ray Dalio. Again, I think there's a lot of learnings that other founders and entrepreneurs can take from that. He’s obviously gone through a very entrepreneurial journey, albeit in a different field, but there’s a lot of nuggets you can take from there.
15. Who would be your three dream non-execs and why?🤷♂️
I would say, Steve Jobs, Jeff Bezos and maybe Elon Musk.
16. What is your next big goal?🎯
It’s to continue to build on Fidel’s mission [to connect innovators to the world of payments], to continue to deliver on the promises we've made to our customers, and give them the tools that they need to build innovative user experiences
17. What are you going to do straight after this interview?🍻
*Knowing smile* Next meeting.
Dev will be appearing on an upcoming Money20/20 panel discussion - 'Infrastructure providers: How to choose and use them as competitive edge' - keep an eye out for it's release in the coming weeks!👀