Once fintech caught Andrea Zand’s eye, she couldn’t shake the feeling that this industry was gaining steam and it wouldn’t stop anytime soon.
Zand originally started off getting her degree in communications before she eventually became the director of operations for a brick-and-mortar company called Aisco Industrial Supply. But Zand said she made a conscious and deliberate decision to jump on the fintech train by joining embedded banking platform FISPAN as its Co-Founder and Operations Lead.
FISPAN’s platform provides a plugin which is essentially an extension of the bank, embedded within the client’s ERP or accounting system. This enables the client to be able to access their business banking and carry out treasury management functions within the context of their day-to-day tasks.
FISPAN, which is based in Canada, is in a period of “hyper growth” Zand says, and has raised a total of $19 million to date. The company plans to use the funding to double down on its existing customers in North America and outside of it to include Asia-Pacific and Europe.
The company currently has about 95 employees and experienced 25% headcount growth from the end of December 2020 to March 31 this year. Zand said the company is on track to hire another 50 people by the end of this year.
Zand spoke with FinLedger about the company’s strategy, expansion plans and more.
FL: What is your strategy as COO for FISPAN this year?
Zand: The benefit for us is that during this pandemic, all the banks had to look inward. They had to look at their processes, they had to look at the way they’re treating their clients, and they had to look into how to take it from analog to digital. They were looking to leverage all of their fintech partnerships.That [experience] has fast tracked our initiatives this year with hyper focusing on the client and the client experience. Now we have the banks on board as well, too. It has been deeply collaborative. We’re seeing a lot of new innovation in terms of the technology we’re using.
FL: What opportunities do you see for FISPAN’s growth going forward?
Zand: We’re looking to expand every sector of our business. We’re looking to also [expand] internationally, either the EU or UK, has been our goal for 2021. But with all of this new focus towards the client experience, and making it scalable and efficient, we’re helping banks streamline their onboarding process this year.
FL: Why is FISPAN thinking about expanding into those areas?
Zand: We’ve expanded in the US market, and naturally we want to move over to some of these other areas to continue to grow. Also, with every new area posts a new challenge and some new technological innovation challenges that we’re excited to tackle. That’s always been on our roadmap, and a lot of these banks that we’re dealing with, tier-one, money center banks, have natural plugins to these other areas in the world. We want to expand to service all of their other branches.
FL: What areas are poised for growth within the industry of embedded banking/contextual banking?
Zand: Looking at big data and AI is always exciting to play with, especially now that everyone’s gone digital/there’s a focus towards it. This idea of hyper individualization with our clients — making sure that every experience is tailored — we’re going to see that change immensely this year, if it hasn’t already been top of mind.
FL: Earlier you said FISPAN was in a period of hypergrowth, what does that mean?
Zand: To give an example, by June of last year to now, my team personally has grown 100%. We’ve seen other departments grow 100%. We’re on track to double that again by the end of this year, which is great. Some of the roles that I’ve been doing as a co-founder, I’ve had to play in a lot of different spaces and be in charge of a lot of different areas within the business. Now we’re looking to expand those areas and have people have dedicated departments. That’s been exciting to see. Also, we’ve had hyper growth in terms of the number of bank clients that we’ve taken on in the past year. It’s been unbelievable for our business.
FL: What advice do you have for women in fintech?
Zand: I’m really not in a position to speak to some of those challenges that speaks to the population of women in fintech. I have a limited scope, and it is just in my time at FISPAN.
But I can say, there’s always been that challenge for women [when it comes to] pitching a project. I’ve personally had to pitch a project at a bank, and [even though] I’ve spoken for the last 30 minutes, they then turn and ask a bunch of questions to my male counterpart. That has happened. I don’t know if this is specific to the fintech space, but I would say that women have to push a lot harder, they have to speak twice as loud, and actively pursue what they want in this space. Honestly, if you can find someone that you can be vulnerable with within your team or your organization to help face some of these challenges — I would definitely do that.