Integrated Finance, which helps fintechs to build embedded financial services quickly and easily, was established to address the ‘pain of integrating and stitching together a vast landscape of financial banking providers and partner connections’.
Following the launch of its upcoming 12-week ‘Fintech Foundation’ incubator to provide businesses with the ‘next step’ in their growth journeys, The Fintech Times chatted to CEO and co-founder Alistair Cotton to learn more about the company and his fintech career.
Alistair, please introduce Integrated Finance and its offering
Integrated Finance is one of those businesses that was built in direct response to a first-hand experience. Like many in the sector, I had previously found it difficult to navigate the process of integrating and stitching together a vast landscape of financial banking providers and partner connections. So, I decided that something needed to change, which is why alongside my other co-founders, I started Integrated Finance.
We see ourselves as being the agnostic platform that modern fintech is built upon. As a company, we enable fintechs to rapidly offer digital banking products, which may have previously been too costly to integrate, or simply technologically incompatible. With us, fintechs can build and launch products in as little as six weeks, and gain access to multiple, pre-built financial integrations and services, all via our single, API-first fintech infrastructure.
So, in practice that means we handle the entire fintech technology stack: from international transactions to customer onboarding to compliance, and everything in between. Whether it’s helping to connect global bank accounts and facilitating a unified, hassle-free banking experience, or assisting fintechs in localising and connecting their products to local payment networks, we’re on hand to support this important sector.
How would you describe your leadership style and the culture at Integrated Finance?
I’m a big believer in the power of people, and I think that is represented in my leadership style. Simply put, I try to get super talented people with an entrepreneurial mindset into the business and then do my best to get out of their way. I think when you create an environment like that, where people feel trusted and valued, it inspires them to be creative and empowered in their work, which benefits us all.
However, to be successful with this style you need to be willing to put trust in people. Ultimately, that involves more than words. Instead, it’s about actually listening to people when they share opinions on things, and always ensuring that individuals across your business feel genuinely involved in the decision-making process. In doing this, you demonstrate to people that you really believe in them.
That’s the environment we’ve built at Integrated Finance, and it heavily influences the working culture we have here. As a team, we’re all very entrepreneurial and love to get super nerdy about the technical aspects that accompany certain financial processes. We also share a strong collective belief in the importance of our company mission, which is demonstrated through our obsession with solving customer issues.
“We are continuing to work with our customers to help them build exceptional fintech products with true global scalability and genuine customer demand”
What are you most proud of in your journey so far?
It has to be the great team that we’ve been lucky enough to build here. I work with emerging fintech businesses all the time and understand how hard it is to put together an amazing team. Therefore, I feel so lucky to have achieved that at Integrated Finance. Our business is full of down-to-earth, payment nerds who live to help our customers bring their innovative products and ideas to life on top of our framework.
Of course, there are also financial indicators that point to the success of our business, and of our customers. We recently passed £1billion in gross transaction value, which was a major milestone. Additionally, last year, we were able to help fintech businesses in their first year of incorporation to earn on average £200,000 in revenues. Now, we’re looking forward to another exciting year of growth, and to achieving many more accomplishments.
What have you found the most challenging so far?
Scaling a business amid an unprecedented global health crisis certainly wasn’t easy, but thankfully, it wasn’t a challenge that I had to face alone. We found it hard not seeing everyone face-to-face each day, but like the broader fintech community we were quick to adapt to the challenge. As we enter 2023, I think hiring and retaining exceptional people is now the most challenging aspect, as the labour market is incredibly tight.
What’s next for Integrated Finance?
We are continuing to work with our customers to help them build exceptional fintech products with true global scalability and genuine customer demand. To support this effort, we’re constantly reinvesting into our platform, helping to expand its capabilities and self-serve functionality. Crucially, we’re now also connecting even more banking providers to our platform, which is giving us unrivalled reach in this very competitive space.
It would be remiss of me not to mention our Fintech Foundation incubator programme, which we recently launched alongside some of the industry’s biggest players and leading brands. It’s just the latest step we’ve taken to support the fintech sector and will provide exciting businesses with the support they need to take the next step in their growth journey amid an increasingly difficult economic climate.
Tell us about your career path and how you got into this industry?
I’ve always worked in financial services, with a particular interest in the ‘plumbing’ side of the sector. By ‘plumbing’, what I mean is the inevitable unbundling of services that’s happening right now, which is creating a new, fragmented development landscape that requires technical leads to integrate, and to manage a high-volume of third-party technology, all that feeds into the same product.
I think that interest really drove me to start Integrated Finance. Prior to this, I’d spent a few years down the rabbit hole of financial messaging. In fact, it was during that period of my life that I built SettleGo, a global banking and payments network. Ultimately, I’m passionate about customer-focused product design and how technology can improve experiences and access to financial services, which has been a constant theme in my career.
What are your interests/ passions out of work?
When I’m not working, I try to spend as much time as possible with my wonderful wife and kids. However, if you ask them, they might disagree with that and say I also spend a lot of my free time watching and playing sports, which is another huge passion of mine. I’ve also become very interested in property development in recent years, as well as trying my hand at the field of angel investing, which I partake in frequently with varying degrees of success.