In Profile
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In Profile: Aran Brown, CEO and Founder, Navro

After securing licences in two significant European financial hubs, global payments firm Navro (previously known as Paytrix) successfully concluded a new funding round to bolster its reserves.

Its founder and CEO, Aran Brown, has spent the last 15 years scaling and transforming payments companies.

He has industrialised everything across FX, payouts, card issuing, payment acceptance, and open banking – and now he is using that experience, along with the founding team, to bring the Navro curation platform to online markets, so that complex payment flows are no longer a barrier to rapid growth and entry into new markets.

In this week’s In Profile, Brown delves into the company’s mission, recent achievements and the future of the fintech industry.

Aran Browne, CEO and founder of Paytrix
Aran Browne, CEO and founder of Navro
Tell us more about your company and its purpose

Navro launched to fill a gap in the market for an efficient, cost-effective, and streamlined international payment solution.  Up to now, businesses of all sizes aspiring to expand into new international markets have been faced with managing a diverse, complex and demanding range of service providers, payment gateways and regulatory authorities to move money from country A to B.

This drives up cost and adds friction.

In response, we have developed the world’s first payments curation platform, a new infrastructure approach that provides access to the best-in-class payment services – from payment acceptance to settlement accounts to payouts – in every region of the world, through one platform, one API, and one contract.

The transaction savings, speed and reduction in resource costs are dramatic.

What are some of your recent achievements you’d like to highlight?

We incorporated in 2022 so we’re still pretty young as a company and in terms of achievements we’ve set ourselves some ambitious targets. In that time we’ve successfully completed a series A funding round of $18.3million co-led by Unusual Ventures, Motive Partners and Bain Capital Ventures and more recently in February 2024 we completed an internal funding round of a further $14million. With the majority of funds retained from our Series-A investment round, we are well-capitalised for growth in the years to come.

We also recently obtained an EMI licence from the Central Bank of Ireland, which, alongside our UK EMI licence has opened us up to global businesses that require gateway payment services for the UK, Europe and beyond.

That said, I’d argue that nothing feels like more of an achievement than signing our first customer and seeing them transact across our platform – a moment to savour.

How did you get into the fintech industry?

I started my career as a trainee at Travelex, I was the only non-graduate of a thirteen-strong cohort. We were tasked with creating meetings for the sales team. Those that survived the process were promoted to business development representatives with revenue targets. I absolutely loved it.

To this day, I can say that it was one of the most enjoyable parts of my career.  From that point on it was heads down focusing on revenue and moving into different parts of the business. My last role at Travelex was running its enterprise business, pre-sale to Western Union. Learning by doing is something that I’ve tried to instil in the DNA of Navro.

What’s the best thing about working in the fintech industry?

There are always challenges that need to be solved, that’s fintech’s raison d’etre. Sometimes those challenges come from legacy IT and banking, sometimes they come from fintech itself.  Take how open banking has helped to unbundle financial services. Fintechs have emerged to provide specific B2B and B2C solutions. While these unbundled solutions, digitally native from the get-go, deliver greater speed and simplicity, businesses are starting to struggle with managing multiple suppliers.

Now fintech pioneers are starting to extend their range of services into adjacent spaces, consolidating solutions and simplifying the end-user experience – a rebundling of core services under fewer suppliers.  For consumers, this will increasingly take the form of a super app, whereas for businesses it will be via a super API.

What frustrates you most about the fintech industry? 

From the consumer’s perspective, innovation is constant – from being able to shop via livestream on platforms such as TikTok, to receiving enhanced loyalty experiences via QR codes, user experiences are becoming increasingly intuitive, sticky, fast and convenient.

Look beneath the surface though at what’s going on from a payments perspective, and it’s a tangled mess – which is not surprising. Whether it’s card transactions or payments running over SWIFT, a lot of the e-commerce money is moving around on 1970s infrastructure.

Up until now, attempts to upgrade the systems for cross-border payments have been tinkering around the edges. It’s a huge ship to turn, but we’ll start to see the emergence of digitally-native, cross-border payment solutions that provide genuine and comprehensive global capabilities rather than the reskinning of legacy infrastructure.

How have your previous roles influenced your career?

I think whatever role you do it always influences your career in some way, good or bad. I’ve been very fortunate to have had great inspirational leaders around me, many of whom I can still call on today for advice or to challenge a decision I am thinking of making.

Each job has always taught me something I didn’t know before. Perhaps that’s because, most of the roles I have had have been unique situations, turnaround roles or with a clear focus on an exit or repackaging an offering externally. These types of jobs tend to be really challenging, but also super rewarding. I’ve learnt never to assume anything and whatever you are told, there is usually a surprising twist heading your way!

What’s the best mistake you’ve ever made?

I joined a company a few years back that wanted to diversify significantly into other vertical markets, but I hadn’t appreciated just how much technical debt was in that business – it was almost impossible to change. Even though we looked at acquisitions, it became really clear there was just nothing we could do to make it something else. Whilst I loved the CEO, I gave up trying to make it something it would never be.

I learned so much in a short period of time and today apply the lessons learned to every decision that Navro makes; is what we are building for the long term? is it scalable? and are the foundations set in such a way that we can pivot into new areas as we progress through our business and investment cycle?

What has the future got in store for your company?

We’re just getting started. It’s fair to say that we’ve moved at such a pace to get to where we are today and have surprised most with what we have achieved, whether that’s investment, regulation, or partnering with tier-one banks.

Now those stakeholders are waiting to see what we do with the ecosystem that we’ve created, in particular how we now ramp and scale the business. So we’re very much heads down, not getting distracted by fancy new things or concepts that are outside of our current focus or ideal client profile – we just have to deliver and nothing else matters.

Of course, over time, we have a clear vision that Navro can be the settlement infrastructure that powers commerce globally. There is a lot to that, but we see a huge opportunity ahead to simplify the locality of both receiving funds and paying them out. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been in this industry, or how much change you’ve seen, there is still a tonne of work to do.

What are the next key talking points of challenges for your industry as a whole?

Regulation is rightly a key focus for the payments industry. Our approach has always been to provide a gold standard service and that means putting in the work to achieve compliance and licences in tier-one markets such as the UK and Ireland. Our intention is to achieve the same in Canada and the US.

The pace of change, the high barriers to entry and ongoing regulatory scrutiny have created complex fintech layers where multiple providers power multiple platforms – payments orchestration.  This makes it harder and harder for customers to achieve the simplicity that is going to help their businesses operate smoothly and scale internationally. The challenge for payment service providers is to get as close to the source of payments as possible so that the service they offer isn’t a tangle of orchestration layers rather it’s a curated service that offers international payments and collections integration via a single API – this is what Navro does.

Showing traction and maintaining strong funding from the best investors has also never been more important, so much focus is on a runway of funding and capital requirements from regulators, and at Navro we never forget how lucky we are in this regard.

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