Charles Grech, Chief of Operations at Truevo Payments, on the rise of the fintech company and the digital transformation trends within finance...
Joining Truevo Payments in 2014, Charles Grech, Chief of Operations at Truevo Payments has been a part of the licensed financial institution for six years. Grech began his career in finance in 1995 at the Bank of Valletta. Grech has also held positions and co-founded Agechecked.com and PNNY Consult prior to joining Truevo Payments.
“Our motto is simple,” explains Grech when asked about the evolution of Truevo Payments’ business strategy. “It's everything for entrepreneurs. Our founder’s vision dates back 20 years ago, to try and make a significant difference within the payment industry. We have a very clear business niche in mind, which is to provide a supportive network for entrepreneurs to grow their businesses. The company itself has evolved over many years, taking one step at a time. First came the technology, then came the license, and now we are adding more and more products to create an ecosystem to facilitate the growth of businesses in a quick and cost-effective way.”
Truevo Payments has three core values which inspire everything they do.
Make a difference
Put your heart into it
Founded in 2013, Truevo Payments first began operating under the name Swish Payments. In 2017, the financial institution rebranded to Truevo Payments. “There were a number of reasons why the company decided to rebrand,” says Grech. “The first one is like any other business would do, to ensure that there is not too much saturation on an existing brand name. The word ‘swish’ is not only a verb but is also used by a lot of other organisations within the market. As a result, the company worked on creating a new, bold brand name which would make a statement. We wanted a brand which would continuously adapt, and ride the evolution that is always taking place within the industry. We strove for something that symbolized and asserted our vision and value.”
Part of the company's efforts to help entrepreneurial businesses grow is to drive digitalisation and innovation within its operations. With this in mind, Grech details that “being a fintech company, I believe we have a natural advantage because the technology came before finance, not the other way around. Frequently, within this industry, fintech companies that were primarily financial but in time adopted the technical element, do not have the technical people required. At Truevo Payments our founder and CEO has a technical background. I, myself am a software and electronic systems engineer, not to mention our CTO and all of our technical team. Nowadays I do not believe that you have any other choice but to upskill or onboard talent that have technological knowledge, in addition to financial knowledge in order to embrace the speed in which technology is evolving, because it is changing so fast.”
When it comes to innovation, Grech highlights the importance of finding a balance between being fast to market with its new product offerings and continuous investment in research and development (R&D) and technical innovation. “One of the main elements we are working to roll out in the coming months is to significantly upgrade our fraud management capabilities and onboarding processes by adopting machine learning technology. Over the last few years machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) have been a bit of a buzzword. However, I believe that many companies are starting to see the benefits now of these technologies. While you can automate business functions, there are limits. By harnessing the power of machine learning, you can benefit from optimisation and predictive capabilities. Ultimately, when it comes to innovation it comes back to that balance of being first to market when rolling out new products with the latest improvements in technology and adopting new opportunities such as machine learning and AI.”
Alongside its adoption of machine learning, Grech details that when looking to enter new industries, “one first needs to have certain knowledge and competence and the data set in that industry. Truevo Payments has been operating since 2016 and we are now in our fourth year of business operations, as a result we are now trying to organise our data so that when the time is right - which is now - we can harness the data and use it for our machine learning. However, I think that there needs to be a certain transition time until a dataset is mature enough to be indicative of one's business purpose, which, being in our fourth year, is where we are now and will continue to improve in the background.”
To successfully implement these strategies, it is important to have the right starting point. “In order to facilitate digital transformation, it takes a certain mindset, people need to be willing to change and have a large amount of flexibility, because while you can invest in the best technical platforms in the world, at the end of the day those using the tools need to have a mindset that is willing to adopt the changes. I also believe that it is equally important to have a mentality where you are willing to make a continuous business transformation. There is no process that is set in stone because technology, business and customer requirements continuously change. This is something that we also integrate within our core business processes - the concept of continuous improvement, doing little changes but all the time.”
Reflecting on the payments industry as a whole, Grech details that “one of the biggest challenges within the industry is the evolution of a much more onerous regulatory landscape. If you go back even three years, there were fewer regulators and local governments wanting to control the industry. Therefore, companies like us needed to make a significant number of changes in the way we conduct our business processes and our systems. Another major challenge for business is the onboarding process, which is why as part of our operations we are focused on trying to shorten the onboarding time as much as possible, which I believe at this stage we have laid the necessary foundations. Currently we are working on providing entrepreneurs with the ability to build a homogenous set of components, instead of purchasing off the shelf systems that are disjointed.”
Contemplating the impact of COVID-19, Grech explains how the pandemic has brought about personal digitalisation for customers as they are more accepting of digital payment methods that are contactless. In addition Grech explains that he believes “COVID-19 has removed earlier bureaucracy in payments. Certain aspects of the industry, such as document signing and meetings with regulatory authorities, had to be done in person. Now these processes are forced to be done remotely. Even authentication of individuals can be done successfully online now. From that perspective, I believe it will help shape the future of the industry by expediting it in a digital direction.”