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From bus rides to border payments: how fintech is changing the world


The latest TFN Fintech Talk is with Michalis Michaelides, Director of Sales and Business Development at BPC, a company known as the ‘globetrotter in fintech’, who spoke to us as media partners at the IFGS 2024 conference. With 24 years’ experience, and BPC’s presence in more than 120 countries, Michaelides offers unrivalled insight in fintech, and discussed his and BPC’s journey, the challenges fintech faces, and the trends that are shaping its future.

Watch the full interview below:

From institutional payments to everyone’s pockets

If there is an elder statesman of fintech Michaelides can lay claim to that title, and has been involved in fintech before it was known as fintech.

“I have had a long journey in payments, and have been in them for more than 25 years now,” he told us. And BPC has been around even longer.

“BPC was founded in the mid-90s as a software house,” Michaelides told us. However, since then, it has developed additional products, like risk management and ecommerce, to meet the demands of a changing market. “We have evolved to service a number of different market needs. So, we no longer only service issuing and acquiring banks, we have ventured into some very exciting new areas like marketplaces.”

Their growth, as a company and into new areas, means they are now even involved in transit, bringing their payments’ expertise to contactless and cashless travel. Having started decades ago focused on payments, their expertise now powers bus journeys, says Michaelides, “providing the integration from end to end, from the moment you tap into a metro like the Tube here, calculating the journey across multiple modes; not only a metro or a bus or a tram but any combination.”

It has enabled BPC to become a global concern, with a presence in 120 countries and more than 1,200 staff, their SmartVista Platform is used by banks, issuers, governments, and more, to provide and manage end-to-end transactions.

The mix of Michaelides experience and BPC’s extensive global footprint means he is well-placed to highlight the challenges for fintech. And, for Michaelides, the big challenge is the regulatory system and the changes it undergoes creating difficulties for those that are trying to navigate new or different regimes. “It impacts the whole ecosystem,” Michaelides said. “Our clients, our friends, ourselves.”

The only solution, though, is to adapt. For BPC, says Michaelides, this means “we need to be extremely flexible. That is one of the key traits that one should have in order to be able to work across so many different geographies.”

He also stressed the importance of fully understanding a client’s requirements. “We try to have an upfront conversation and dialogue with our clients to understand what they need,” he said. “Then we can work out what would be the best approach for them.”

Michaelides also highlighted some of the trends he expects to continue in fintech. While it is almost cliché to mention AI as a trend, Michaelides notes that AI is nothing new. “AI has been in the payments domain for a while now, and will continue to be a defining trend,” he told us. However he added, “I think there are other important trends that we can’t ignore.”

Two trends that he sees combined are digital wallets and international payments. “Border payments is another trend that we hear a lot about,” he says. “Moving money across international borders has always been a challenge and a costly exercise. And now with the digitisation of payments, a lot of people are attempting to see how can we make the process faster, cheaper and more effective.”

However, that trend is not just about moving money, but has wider implications, including financial inclusion. “If you move money better and more cost effectively into areas where money is needed, then that money has a greater impact,” Michaelides told us.

He also highlighted how the changing environment was changing the way businesses collaborate. “Risk Management has been at a key focal point,” he said. BPC has had a risk management solution from the very beginning, which he told us they continue to support and develop. However, he notes that the expertise required means many are developing partnerships.

“We have also recognised that in order to be efficient, and to stay ahead of the risk of cybersecurity threats, we need to also work with partners,” says Michaelides. “We are working a lot with partners and integrating with specialists in certain topics so that we can increase the effectiveness of our risk management solutions, and offer a better service to our customers.”

Constant change

Michaelides’ main observation, however, perhaps reflects the changes that he, and BPC, have seen as they have continued to thrive in a marketplace that is radically different to the one that they started in.

“The only constant in this business is change; things will be changing and evolving constantly,” he says. “You need to have that in the back of your mind. There’s never really an end to the journey.”

Observing only the last decade, he invites fintech to use its imagination in defining the future. “As the pace of technology changes. The industry changes continuously,” he says. Mentioning that phones are now routinely used for payment, he comments, “this has only been an experience for the last ten years or so, and it’s already saturated. So, who knows how we will be transacting ten years from now.”

To watch the full interview, and all the Fintech Talks with TFN series, subscribe to our YouTube channel.

TFN accepted a small fee for the production cost of this articleFor partnering opportunities, contact [email protected]m or [email protected].

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