When Christo Georgiev was choosing a headquarters for his FinTech firm myPOS his shortlist had only one name on it: London. Christo is clear about the reasons for his choice: “Europe really has no answer to London, which is by some margin the most attractive city for a FinTech startup to locate in today. I knew that for my business to be successful we needed access to the world’s top talent, the most robust financial regulation, and excellent connections to Europe.”
myPOS is based in Canary Wharf, and now has 217 staff across its London headquarters, support services centre in Bulgaria, and agents across Europe. While some businesses are in the process of moving staff to other EU countries to mitigate the potential threat of a no-deal Brexit, myPOS is expanding rapidly in London, hiring new staff, and looking to take on more office space. The business offers portable point of sale (POS) terminals with proprietary software that are used by merchants to accept card payments, manages the processing of those payments, and will serve 60,000 small and medium sized business owners by the end of the year. It has processed over €1.2 billion worth of payments for the year to date, almost 100% growth since this time in 2017. While card payment terminals are nothing new in themselves, the technology that sits behind the terminals and the payment system makes it revolutionary for small business owners. Where traditional POS transactions take up to three working days to process, myPOS offers instant payments to merchants who can withdraw funds the same day from a bank or cash point. For SMEs, cash flow and access to funds is essential, and this system allows a taxi driver to fill up his car, or a chef to stock his restaurant with ingredients using money made that very day.
myPOS came to London in 2017, and despite the uncertainty caused by the EU referendum and ongoing negotiations Christo is positive about the future of the capital as the financial heart of Europe. “It makes absolute sense that the UK and EU will strike some kind of deal in the coming years as it is in the best interests of both parties. The passporting of financial services is part of the draft agreement that is being debated presently, and it seems exceptionally unlikely that this element will be removed in any way. I’m confident that in this context London will continue to serve as one of the world’s foremost financial hubs, and a centre of excellence when it comes to innovative FinTech. Of course we have a worst-case contingency plan for a no-deal Brexit, but this isn’t something we expect to have to deploy.”
Christo’s experience comes from a European context, having been born and educated in Bulgaria and worked across the EU. Growing up, Christo discovered his interest in mathematics, computing and payments – beginning coding at the age of 12. He studied advanced software and hardware engineering at the Technical University in Varna, started his PhD Thesis for implementation of Fuzzy Logic in Artificial Intelligence while working as Assistant Professor, and then completed a degree in bank management and finance. By age 19, Christo set-up his first company specialized in software development which later became SiS Technology AD – a leading provider of software services for retail stores. “My passion has always been for technology and the practical side of programming and systems. However, I very much believe that if you are going to build a FinTech business you need to understand both sides of the coin. We start by thinking about what our customers need – simple systems and easy access to funds – and then build the systems that are required.”
For Christo, the 60,000 merchants the business serves across Europe today is just the beginning. “The SME market is massively underserved when it comes to payments. There are 30 million of these kind of firms across Europe, and I see no reason why within a year or two we could be serving a million of them or even more. Over 80% of our customers have never been able to accept card payments before; our system is democratising access to the digital financial system for these entrepreneurs.”
Christo’s vision is shared by a number of industry heavyweights who have been attracted to the business from traditional banks and technology firms in recent months. These include former senior executives from Starling Bank, HSBC and Bank of Singapore. Here, again, London showed its edge when it comes to running a successful FinTech. “London’s access to talent is unrivalled, and I’m confident we now have the best people from the worlds of finance and e-money, working together to make the best business prospect.”
Ultimately, Christo envisages that his technology and similar solutions will lead to developed economies becoming almost entirely cashless. “The direction of travel is quite clearly toward consumers using less physical money, and as more small retailers offer card payments there will be fewer occasions when shoppers have to use cash at all. A cashless society has clear benefits for both consumers and business owners in making doing business quicker and easier. It’s an exciting time to be involved in this business sector.”
Featured on: Forbes