How a modern fintech is transforming traditional business banking
On this episode of TELUS International Studios, we're joined by Ante Spittler, co-founder and CEO of Moss. The company offers an all-in-one solution for intelligent spend management, with the aim to be the leading financial management platform for businesses across Europe.
Tune in to hear the origin story of Moss and how it was born from a passion to resolve common painpoints in the customer experience. Ante also shares insight in how fintech is evolving, key driving factors and the impact of regulations on the industry. Go on, give it a listen!
To learn more about TELUS International and our digital CX solutions, contact us today.
Intro: TELUS International Studios where customer experience meets digital transformation.
Patrick Haughey (PH): Welcome to TELUS International Studios. I’m your host Patrick Haughey. And on today’s episode we're talking fintech. Specifically, the recent changes and challenges that modern fintechs are bringing to traditional banking. As the needs and expectations of consumers and businesses continue to change and evolve. Our guest is Ante Spittler, co-founder and CEO of Moss. Moss is a digital spend managemet platform for businesses of varying sizes, and they're exploding across Europe with very impressive growth. Ante starts off the conversation telling us a little bit about Moss and their own customer experience approach. Let's have a listen:
One of the big things we talk about on TELUS International Studios is the world of customer experience and how you interact with your partners, your clients, how you win business and how you help them succeed in partnership with you. So does that form a big part of what you do and your strategy?
Ante Spittler (AS): 100%. Like absolutely. And you can break it down, as you said, in different elements, right? It's almost like how you look at the lifecycle of a customer. But it's also how you look at the lifecycle of your employees starting from before they like, engage with us, up until the point when they maybe even leave us and trying to, of course, like shape this journey. So it's definitely like probably one of the most important instruments and points of view, because otherwise you always end up in this very silo focus. And with this, there will be wrong decisions, that's for sure.
PH: Well, what has your experience been? Have you just for anyone listening? Are there some key watch outs in the sort of journey you've had? Is there a mistake you've made that where you to do it again, you would do it differently?
AS: Yeah. Like, we have done hundreds mistakes, but one that we cured, for example, in this, with this company versus probably the last company put a very strong focus on the people's side and especially the initial team that's joining us like from the very first days. We focused on bringing in experienced people with a fairly high level of like professional education, but also like very high level of like understanding the problem in depth, almost like sector experts. And with this, we just ended up having a very strong SWAT team. They could do both — manage and build at the same time. And that, of course, also attracted the right people in the next wave, right? Because ultimately, your hiring becomes decentralised is not only one person, it hires it like a number of people, the people they know who are strong from their own network, just fuel referral based hires. So it's almost like it starts from the beginning, but eventually it has a huge spill over into the whole organisation.
PH: Well, as you move from that start-up phase into a more up phase and scale-up mindset, has your approach to customer experience adapted and evolved?
AS: So it like there is always this discussion around when does marketing hand over to sales? When does sales handover to operations? Is it with application or sign up? Is it before or later? And we had to figure it out. It was a process and we changed it. So, for example, the first phase of customer onboarding was pulled out of the sales organization and is now a customer success organisation that's quite separate and it has a couple of other KRs on top. At the same time, we'll probably also be experiencing if part of this journey, maybe even go back to sales, the commercial development. And it's a never ending process. So quite clear that this is something that needs to be managed really well because it will spill over into NPS, into retention, into engagement like all these elements of our product.
PH: And have you brought in any types of technology or certain programs to assist you and to enhance your customer experience operations?
AS: Yeah. So generally speaking, all processes are tool enabled. We have so many tools. It's crazy. Like I'm pretty sure that every company or tech company or less tech company with more than a hundred employees, will have 50 plus subscriptions for tech tools. And what we decided on is a plug in like basic customer relationship management tools as a baseline. And we decided to use Salesforce on that side. There is other options which probably also make sense in other cases. And then on top of that, we have extended basically the offering by other tools or have bought tools on top that connect. And that's how our entire customer journey is managed, including the commercial process, but then also the operations piece that comes later. I would be lying if I would know all of these tools, it's just not my daily bread and butter.
PH: Yeah, well, you can only do so much. And you mentioned sort of the fact that there's now many different departments and people and what — you're trying — to have to try and avoid silos and kind of keep a consistency of communications across the company. And how do you also like you mentioned all the software tools and the various pieces of technology you have? Is that also a challenge is to try and keep them somehow connected and have a broadly working in tandem with each other?
AS: Yeah, I think it's a huge challenge in how I can advertise Moss a little bit on one element. And then we're going to answer the other side. So it almost starts like with being able to monitor these subscriptions and also not lose control over how much it's getting spent. So for our platform, for example, has a subscription feature where there is one virtual card there is to attach to each subscription. So your Salesforce subscription would have one, your Calendly, your Zoom, whatsoever. And you can basically automate the entire process from what gets billed, how the receipt is attached, how to spend is categorised and can track the spend development over time. And that's probably one of the most used features for finance teams in terms of managing subscriptions. But then, of course, there is also this technical product and almost user perspective, which is the other side of the table. We need to make sure that these tools are either connected or synchronised in any way, because otherwise you end up managing three or four silo tools that don't interact. And I think that's a huge challenge. Partially, it's a — partially it's a structural challenge because these tech tools are sometimes like scale-ups themselves. They're just growing and building their product on the goal. And they might be a closed ecosystem initially and only become like an open ecosystem later with open APIs to connect, etc. So it's almost like restricted by the tools that you use. Yeah, how much you can connect them. And the other one is, of course, being able to, like, process it from an organizational perspective. Yeah, I have the right people understand and can connect. I think more — there is probably more that can be connected versus what is connected just because there is a knowledge gap on the team.
PH: Yes. Yeah. And you know, and each of those roles requires a person or a team of people. And I guess that's probably part of the reason that you have gone from, you know, your founding team up to over 170 employees in two years. That's a really rapid scaling, I guess you could call it, and speaks to the initial success of Moss, I would imagine. Have things gone well as you would have hoped in the last couple of years?
AS: Like overall, 100% super happy. Looking in details big variation when we saw. One thing is for certain, we brutally underestimated the complexity when we started. And I think it's good because if we understood it, we wouldn't have done it.
PH: I understand.
AS: So it was almost like a self-protection mechanism to not over-engineer, but just decide to do it at a certain point of time, like we have a pre-assessment phase. But then you just go ahead, quit your job, raise funds, hired a team and just try it out. It's better than just doing the research for months and years. And then on this journey, things played out really well. So we have been quite lucky with a couple of elements. I think the biggest and most successful element was really around hiring this first team. We get it together as an extended co-founding team with equity incentives. And we made sure that everyone has a certain edge. It can be a cultural edge. It can be a way of working edge or a knowledge edge. And all of those contributed to just being very punchy and fast. We could just turn around things in days and weeks versus like months for in other organizations. And this also brought us to where we are. So right now we have we have hundreds of SMBs on our platform. We grow almost 100% quarter over quarter. We are running more than 100 million in total process volume right now. So it's really gaining traction. It's heavily used by our customers and that's what's giving us like the early indicators that the company makes sense and that the choices we took were the right ones.
PH: Well, congratulations. And based on all that, I would like to, we've got some questions that came in from the TELUS International team. A lot of questions for you. I have to say it's a very — such an interesting space and such an interesting company from many perspectives. So there was plenty questions here. I'll just give you a handful and you might answer the ones you can. So here's one. How did the need for SMBs access to finance change over time and during the pandemic? And was this a major catalyst for change?
AS: It was probably one of the biggest catalysts for change. And even though it's awful, what happens, I was hit myself with the infection. Nevertheless, we as a business, it helped us. It helped us massively because in essence, what happened is companies from one day to the other move from being together in the office to being at home. And suddenly business processes had to survive the switch from being jointly in this office to being disconnected and distributed. And with our platform where you can basically issue cards to any employees and a super flexible way, this just helped companies continue running their business in an efficient way because you couldn't hand around the credit card anymore and you couldn't just walk into the finance department or get something from them, right? You needed technical tools that can support this in a digital way. So for us, it was a massive uplift and not only in terms of like business performance, but also in terms of market education. I think that's where the question is almost hitting too, like the market understood that something needs to change to work effectively in the future. I think it was, it learned this lessons also on being able to jump on a video conference call like we're doing right now, right? Not having to take planes all the time. But then, of course, also in terms of how to manage your payments and how to manage your finance processes.
PH: Ok, very good. So another one, how will the SMB lending slash credit card space change the corporate world in the next five years?
AS: And, yeah, also here, I have a strong belief, naturally, I have to be the evangelist. But it's also honestly my 100% sincere opinion. Finance teams will not run their organisation in the same way they did the last couple of years in five years’ time. And the same also for other functions. It's like it needs to — We have to move away from any manual workflows, non-digital processes. It just doesn't make sense. Yeah. We just like people are inefficient and they're spending time on topics that are not exciting. It's not engaging brains, it's engaging hands and other things. And that's why I think there would be a huge shift. We see the shift happening right now. So I mean, we are now acquiring early adopters, but this backlog of early adopters is growing and growing massively. And I think one of the critical elements that needs to happen to make this work is market education. So people understanding there is another way of doing. Understanding that I don't have to send an email to ask for an approval to buy something. It's very inefficient. It can be a Slack integrated request that also pops on a mobile phone if someone is traveling. That's one green that tracks all these approvals where you cannot get lost later and streamlines the process. And that's basically what will happen from my point of view.
PH: So you're saying it's the end of the petty cash box for companies?
AS: 100%. There will be — so there — like it will exist for quite some time and maybe it's even good, but the share that runs through it will become so much smaller.
PH: Yes. Yes. Ok. And a couple more quick questions. The role of regulation. How is the role of regulation influencing new fintech’s launching?
AS: Yeah, I mean, regulators have this massive effect. Yeah. And it's sometimes very hard to predict the recent trends with PSD2, open banking and the whole regulation on that side actually show positive signs. And it's the whole the opening of the markets, the streamlining of how regulation is done across markets like the U.K. versus the German versus the French versus Malta. It's just getting harmonised with the European Central Bank initiatives, and this is helping. Nevertheless, like whenever there is a change, it shuts down doors and opens up others right? So it's going to kill businesses and it's going to open up new businesses and yeah, important to stay ahead of the curve.
PH: Well, and how do you — do you have any tips in terms of how to stay ahead of the curve?
AS: Just stay close to the business critical elements in terms of what's getting announced. So for us, for example, now in the card space, there was a decision to regulate consumer card interchange. It's the main revenue stream that Mastercard and the scheme is paying out to card issuers. And this one has been reduced from more than 100 pips to 20/30 pips, so it killed business models. The commercial one is not regulated. There is good signs why it also will not be in the near future, but it's something to monitor because the business model changed dramatically if this happens. Same around open banking. People couldn't access bank account data unless it was shared through scraping or to sharing excel sheets or something similar or something very inconvenient and insecure to a certain extent. Now, with PSD2 and open banking APIs, you basically can tap with a pretty quick process into like 90 days history and can keep the connection and run your processes on this as long as the customer consents, of course, the idea needs to be a reason to do so. But that's a that's a huge lift. It just opens up a more modern way to run a business versus how it has been done by the banks before.
PH: Yeah. And that brings me to my final question from the TELUS International Team. How are modern fintech’s changing the traditional banking and financial services sectors for business?
AS: So it's a very complex question, I'm going to try to answer it very, very easily to not get lost with my own answer. So I think it's two elements that probably stand out the most and the one is the this aggregation of financial products and financial software. In essence, it's basically offering a neo bank account or a next generation credit card as a payment instrument is a totally different activity. Versus building tools as a software stack that aim to further enhance those financial products. Integrate them, attach certain products to it, workflows, whatsoever. And I think where banks focused on and what SMBs used to consume was financial products with almost zero software. Just look at business bank accounts — like the online login was the biggest invention that they had. Yeah, like, it's doesn't synchronise and link with anything. And I think this this aggregation of the two, and then allowing people to tap into each of those and build products on top, sometimes into both. So we're doing both, for example. Just opens up a totally new opportunity base and will therefore also change how SMBs work and interact in the future.
PH: You did a very good job and it concisely answering a very complex question, so thank you for that. Ok, look, my final question then. We spoke earlier, you came from the very the comfortable corporate world, safe job and took the decision to leave on this roller coaster, start-up and scale-up journey. Is there anything you miss about the old world? Are you fully bought into the craziness of your current life?
AS: I'll be lying if I didn't have moments where I cried for safety and structure, that's 100% certain. At the same time, I think once you catch the entrepreneurial fever, there is no way to go back like there is — I would not be successful. Like I would probably get like grey skin, be depressed and would not source my energy and my potential. And it's not — and that's just because there are other things that attract me more. And so the answer is lots of pain, but also lots of gain.
PH: Great. Ante Spittler thank you so much for sharing your story with us and your views on a very, very interesting industry today on TELUS International Studios.
AS: Thanks. Thanks for having me. Very much appreciate it.