Rachel’s various interests lie in the travel, media, clean energy and healthcare sectors. As a journalist, she has specialised in covering large private equity transactions and M&A deals, including deals executed by the buy-out firms such as 3i, BC Partners, Bain Capital, Blackstone Group and KKR to name a few. Rachel has also worked on numerous high profile deals, including the Kraft takeover of Cadbury, the British Airways merger with Iberia, and the Newscorp stake in BSKYB.She has written articles for Sunday Business, Breaking Views, Media Week, Financial News, and appeared on CNBC.
Rachel is a qualified PADI Dive Master and holds a liberal arts degree in European History from Smith College, Massachusetts.
Latest posts by Rachel Rigby (see all)
- Golf, the City style: no experience necessary! - 15 Sep 2016
- Yoga for Refugees evening brings London City to the matt - 14 Jul 2016
- Peter Sayburn: I look for people with ambitious concepts - 27 May 2016
Finbuzz spoke to Peter Sayburn, the co-founder and CEO of Market Gravity, a company that is responsible for fintech innovations including a new digital banking service B (youandb.co.uk) working with Clydesdale Bank and Yorkshire Bank. Finbuzz asked Peter how he started such a dynamic company.
I am no stranger to technology, I have worked in big company innovation for twenty years. Market Gravity is my first growth business and I am proud to say we already have fifty employees and three different offices in London, Edinburgh and New York. I look for people with ambitious concepts and then sell them into the board at big companies. I also look to build entrepreneurship from within big companies. This is better than being a complete start up.
I enjoy working to establish entrepreneurship from within because you have the structure and backing of a big company while being innovative.
Market Gravity just completed assisting Clydesdale Bank and Yorkshire Bank on the launch of B – a new digital banking service that launched on May 3rd. Peter explains the unique challenges that arise when working with such large corporations as Clydesdale Bank and Yorkshire Bank.
When you are a startup you are just working for your customers and your product, and you can move quickly. When working within a big company one faces different challenges. If a company hasn’t worked on digital offerings before, it needs help to incubate ideas and give the internal startup a bit of space from the main business initially to develop them. On the flip side one has to work very closely with the main business, when working with the larger company’s technology to do something new.
A lot of larger companies need cultural change and new ways of working. Many bank employees, for example, have been working in the same bank all their lives. Hiring people from different backgrounds such as telecom or media brings a much needed fresh perspective to the banks. Many banks, like Clydesdale Bank and Standard Life are embracing changes. They are more willing to hire people from different backgrounds and collaborate with smaller companies to release new products.
What do you see as some of the key mistakes startups make most often?
No one starts out a business that’s too risky, one that they expect to fail, but it’s necessary to experiment and try out lots of ideas. Trial and error is part of the process and it’s good to try new things but also good to recognise when to stop, if it’s not working out. It’s best to focus on what your company is good at and try not to do too much at the same time.
A lot of fintech companies for example, are very niche focusing on a specific area of banking, wealth or insurance, and that’s why they succeed. The UK is currently producing great fintech companies because of the financial services heritage in the UK. Combine the entrepreneurial spirit of the UK and apply that to fintech and innovation and you have a winning combination. Instead of being threatening to the banks and insurers, fintech is supporting change in those industries, so it thrives.
Tell us a bit more about the B platform.
The B platform that we created to improve the digital banking experience for customers, has value because it’s customer-designed. The digital bank acts less like a traditional bank, it acts very human. The digital platform has some artificial intelligence to help you to understand where you are doing your spending. It can talk to you like a human, and eventually come up with very helpful and proactive ideas to better manage your money through monitoring your day to day activities. The more you use the platform the more it suggests things to do via your mobile phone. This is it quite different for Clydesdale, yet people in their twenties and thirties are doing everything on their phone, so the banks need to adapt to their customers.
We involved 2000 customers to help us design and test the prototypes for B and some interviews were held in people’s homes and coffee shops. The first version of the prototype goes through several customer angles and tries to understand people’s lifestyles.
Do you think people are going to be willing to buy banking services from non-traditional providers such as Facebook or Google?
The whole market is up for grabs and challengers like Facebook are entering the marketplace. People will be willing to buy from Facebook because they are used to it, but future banking services will look very different and be embedded in the Facebook app. Soon you will be able to send money by messaging a family member through Facebook. Even if you use messenger, behind the service there will still be a bank. You might be using the customer facing Facebook and Google, but those firms will still have to comply with regulations. Lots of competitors are coming into the space this year, such as Mondo, Tandem Bank, Aldermore and Atom Bank.
What about security, which steps did you take to ensure the app is secure and still easy to use?
We have a big focus on security. Market Gravity doesn’t develop the security solutions but we work with the providers to make sure that the security works without compromising customer usage and experience.
Do you personally use wearables and contactless cards to make payments?
I am contactless, I don’t buy a train ticket and the London underground is a great example of being able to link payments into a network. I’m a big fan of Barclaycard’s wearables range ‘bPay’. There are many different technologies converging from security to fitness tracking, e.g. Fitbit is also opening its wristband to payments.
Where do you think the digital banking is moving?
There is a big move towards artificial intelligence and better use of aggregated and personal data. As long as people retain ownership of their personal data and aggregation of group information, it can be very useful.
Peter notes that Google were able to predict a SARS outbreak before the World Health Organisation based on people’s Google searches.
Big companies are using transactional data in a big way to learn more about customers. Futuristic artificial intelligence and machine learning being applied to retail digital banking is the way forward and banks realise they have to adopt it, otherwise social media platforms will threaten their role. As a result the bigger institutions are now more open to using artificial intelligence, to acquiring tech companies and to collaborations. We will see lots of new alliances, joint ventures, and acquisitions of new technology based services going forward.
Lots of big banks realise that using companies like Market Gravity can accelerate the process of change to new platforms and new services. Market Gravity works from inside the company and its success for them is when a new technology achieves internal and external adoption.