Guy Raymond El Khoury, CEO of Accomplish Financial, talks about innovation in the global payments sector.
Guy El Khoury, CEO of Accomplish Financial and AF Payments, is known for his unapologetically creative and innovative approach to fintech and the payments sector in general. His innovative ideas have made Accomplish Financial a success, despite the competition and ever-changing environment of the tech industry. With this in mind, we decided to pick his brains on the importance of innovation within the fintech industry, as well as discover strategies on how to implement changes within a relatively young sector.
Innovation Key to Leveraging Success
According to Guy El Khoury, being innovative within the tech industry requires a high level of creativity, risk, and an out-of-the-box approach to problem-solving. Unlike traditional banking, fintech companies have built a reputation that relies heavily on adapting to the new, the unknown, and the so-called ‘impossible’. To do this, they are constantly invested in tackling one problem at a time. Once a solution to a specific problem has been solved, they move on to the next issue.
El Khoury notes that this approach allows them to “use their success as leverage to enter a new vertical.” He continues, “If they can successfully repeat this process enough times, they would soon find themselves in a position to compete on all fronts.”
This form of diversification, in a sense, means that they are better equipped to handle and offer tailor-made solutions that target customers’ unique needs. And to top things off, this is usually done at a lower cost and a quicker turn-around when compared to traditional banking systems.
As El Khoury explains:
“Not only are fintech companies able to provide similar verticals of services that banks offer, but they can also customize experiences in ways that many traditional banks are unable to. Furthermore, they can usually do so at a much lower cost and faster pace. That, in turn, allows the fintech companies to scale their businesses at a greater speed.”
Innovation through Teamwork
The ability to think outside the box, as opposed to providing a “one size fits all” experience to customers, has meant that fintech companies have the capability to compete with traditional banks. According to El Khoury, this competition does not mean that fintech companies should aim to either replace, or even challenge, traditional banks completely.
Quite the contrary, he notes that both entities, fintech companies and traditional banks, need to rely on each other to progress and expand:
“Fintech businesses cannot currently exist without the services that traditional banks offer. Conversely, banks have begun to see how their services can be improved and expanded, and perhaps in that sense, are being ‘challenged’. Banks are still very much the foundation and backbone to any fintech wishing to interact with the real world. In a way, fintechs augment the experience that is built on a banking foundation.”
Truth be told, neither entities can progress without two essential elements. The first being; the input and problems that customers bring to the financial industry. Who knew that problems would ever be considered a tool for progress?
Innovation through Problem Solving
The problems that customers bring to the floor basically mean that these companies need to work on tools and solutions that would solve their problems. And by doing so, the latter end up researching, innovating, adapting, and ultimately finding solutions that suit the very particular needs of their customers.
“The problems that consumers of financial tools face are what drives the need for better solutions. Banks, due to the range of their services, have larger overheads and as a result have to charge their customers fees for using their services. With a growing movement towards negative interest rates, reduced income from interchange, and increased competition, more cost is being transferred to the consumer. This process will continue unless innovation and efficiencies come into play, and this is exactly what successful fintechs are achieving.”
As for the second, fintech companies have to adapt to the technological advancements that are taking place worldwide. For instance, fintech companies can now offer new services to their customers by having AI, cloud computing and IoT. In contrast, while understanding the potential that these systems provide, traditional banks are held back by the sheer scale and breadth of their existing services. El Khoury elaborates:
“It makes them slow in the uptake due to the complexity of needing to upgrade their systems which can be fragmented, legacy systems and in the dozens ranging to hundreds of systems for the largest players. Planning upgrades, amending processes, and rolling out new solutions takes years”.
Because of this, El Khoury contends that big banks rely on fintech companies to develop solutions that can only add to their pre-existing systems. In simpler terms, traditional banks use the innovation provided by fintech companies to enhance their customers’ experience. And fintech companies, on the other hand, use the traditional banking system as the backbone and foundation upon which they interact with the real world.
Innovation on the path to a Cashless Society
Due to the ever-changing nature of technology, it is no wonder that as part of this so-called innovation, the concept of money in and of itself has changed. We are shifting into an increasingly cashless society, and as a result, fintech companies have also had to provide solutions that called for a replacement of physical money.
Accomplish Financial saw this coming years back, and as such, they have managed to establish a wide range of payment instruments and accounts, including, but not limited to traditional plastic payment cards, wearables, virtual, QR, and tokenized cards and accounts. Due to the futuristic vision that El Khoury has maintained for years, Accomplish Financial is considered a pioneering power within the fintech industry.
Take for example Amazon, PayPal, and most recently, certain cryptocurrencies. The common denominator for the latter three is that they have changed how customers can pay for their goods and services. No traditional cash is handled at any point during the transactions that take place on their platforms, as they have provided solutions to their customers to pay quickly, conveniently, and safely.
Innovation through Safety
Now talking about safety, El Khoury maintains that while the progress of the fintech industry has undeniably benefitted both customers and businesses alike, we should not forget the importance of regulating this relatively new sector. Fintech businesses are still at risk of falling victims to fraud, scams, and cyber-attacks, thus rendering their customers vulnerable.
As such, measures to ensure everyone’s safety and protection is required and should be maintained. El Khoury finally notes:
“Regulation is extremely important, and maintaining the fine line between innovation and consumer protection is a difficult one to manage. That being said, I’m optimistic for the future. History has shown that traditional banks and fintechs have a give and take relationship, where they more often than not end up benefiting from each other.”