During this year’s Fintech Week London event, Payment Expert spoke to Nium VP of Customer Success, EMEA, Jill Docherty, on how the company is contributing to the burgeoning embedded finance sector as well as what she believes is still yet to come. 

Payment Expert: Firstly Jill, can you speak briefly on Nium and your role?

Jill Docherty: Nium is a global real-time payments platform building the infrastructure of tomorrow, today. As an embedded finance partner, we bring speed and cost-efficiency to financial institutions and fintechs to enable B2B cross-border payments at scale. 

Amid ongoing economic pressures and rising cost-of-living across Europe, we recognise that there is huge demand for international businesses to pay and get paid instantly. Ultimately, the right payment infrastructure can enable these businesses to grow and people across the world to access their money when they need it most.

Currently, legacy payment systems mean fintechs, banks, and financial institutions face costly hidden fees, significant delays, and uncertainty of delivery every time they send or collect an international payment. 

At Nium, we build, maintain, and grow a network of local bank licences across the globe and combine this with our API technology to create real-time payment pathways, bypassing outdated wire transfers and SWIFT to enable instant payouts, pay-ins, and virtual card issuing. 

Beyond traditional bank and institutional remittance services, we are seeing some exciting use cases emerge in Europe from payroll to spend management, marketplaces and online travel.

PE: Can you speak a little on your experience at Visa and Mastercard and what you’ve applied from working at those big companies to your time at Nium?

JD: Most of my roles at Mastercard and Visa were customer-facing, looking at how we could enable embedded finance to deliver better, more accessible solutions. Whilst there are similarities in working for a large corporate organisation to a fintech scale-up, it has its nuances. 

My experience is that both are hyper-focused on the customer, their needs and how payments technology can solve these challenges. This obsession is what enables innovation and maintains growth. 

But working for a company like Nium also requires you to be inherently more dynamic and agile, responding to changes at pace to meet market demands and win in a competitive landscape. In my role at Nium now, I feel I have more autonomy to solve customer issues and drive change than ever before in my career.

PE: What are some of the trends or developments you’ve seen in embedded finance so far this year that people need to know more about?

JD: A key challenge – and opportunity – I’m hearing a lot about right now is operational resilience. It has been front of mind for regulators and institutions alike, and is likely born out of the growing number of embedded finance partners now in the market. 

As more embedded services arise, regulators need to encourage collaboration in a way that ensures we create a thriving yet robust ecosystem. 

Embedded finance is not a zero sum game; there are no winners and losers, only opportunities for growth. To me, it’s very much about multiple players working together to facilitate new use cases, optimise revenue, and meet customer needs. 

When the industry reaches a point where service providers are pushing each other forwards, adoption, utility and trust can soar, accelerating a more inclusive and accessible financial services landscape that works for all of its participants.

PE: Can you talk a little on the ‘White Space’ in embedded finance and what that means?

JD: To me, the white space in embedded finance doesn’t lie in tech buzzwords like Gen AI or blockchain. Whilst these developments are certainly pushing boundaries in our industry, they remain unregulated, and the everyday application for businesses, therefore, likely to remain out of reach for some time.

There is still so much potential to unlock in global real-time payments right under our noses. We’ve come a long way: if you cast your mind back to five years ago, moving money across borders and currencies was done on a micro-basis, which made it incredibly difficult. Businesses had limited choice, it was costly, and took days because you only really had the option to use SWIFT or a wire transfer.

But on a global scale, we are still only at the tip of the iceberg. International real-time payment corridors from Europe to the likes of the US or Asia have largely been untapped and in certain markets, antiquated B2B payment methods like cheques are still prevalent. 

Imagine a world where any business can instantly send money to another, anywhere in the world, to any bank account, digital wallet, or virtual card in the currency of their choosing, for a fraction of the price. This is the world that Nium is helping to create.

PE: Lastly Jill, can you speak on Nium’s rest of year plans and your further plans for Europe?

JD: We are super excited about our current growth trajectory in Europe. It is not a new market entry for Nium; we’ve been here for a number of years building on our global success in APAC and the US. 

In 2021, we acquired a European travel payments firm called Ixaris and are now seeing the benefits of that integration come to fruition. Despite a challenging economic climate, we are continuing to grow in terms of hiring, generating revenue, and expanding our product suite across multiple verticals in Europe.

We’ve recently increased our regional headcount to extend our geographic footprint from the UK and Malta into markets such as France, Germany, and the Netherlands. We now have in total around 150 employees in Europe and 1000 globally. 

In 2022, we doubled our European revenue, contributing to 40% of global revenue, and are on track to double it again in 2023.

Combined with the recent launch of our payroll solution, this puts us in a strong position to deliver the benefits of global real-time payments to new and existing customers across Europe, now and in the future.