At Bonova Advisory we interview C-suites and Industry Thought leaders in Banking and Finance. This week , I had the pleasure of interviewing Harsh Sinha, CTO of TransferWise, the company that makes sending, receiving, and spending money abroad as low a cost as possible, oversees technology and growth to its 3+ million users worldwide
Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”?
I’ve been an immigrant my entire adult life. I grew up in India and moved to the US for graduate school. This was when the tech industry was still coming out of the dotcom crash and the tech job market was still recovering. I was lucky to score an internship at eBay, which started a long tenure for me at eBay and PayPal. I started out in the performance engineering team, where I learned how to build technology platforms that scale to handle massive traffic. It was great training for a young engineer. Over time, I switched to building global product experiences and helped incubate and expand acquired startups. I joined TransferWise in May 2015 to help scale our technology and our team.
Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?
TransferWise has customers all over the world and I tend to run into them at random places. I once ran into a customer standing in line to board a flight in Germany. She was explaining to her friend how TransferWise was saving her money when she sent euros to the UK. She was so evangelical that she convinced her friend to try us out. Our marketing team would have been very proud of her.
We ended up sitting beside each other on the plane and began talking. Once she learned what I did, she gave me a laundry list of things she wanted us to solve for her — one of which was launching a debit card that she could use across the globe. As luck would have it, earlier this year we launched the borderless account, which lets you to hold 40+ currencies and access the funds via a debit card. It’s always great to meet customers and see how we’re impacting their lives. It’s a constant motivator to get out of bed and keep working to solve real problems.
What do you think makes your company stand out during these disruptive times? Can you share a story?
Building a financially focused tech company requires us to be great at technology and regulatory compliance. Tech companies are usually good at building systems but can struggle working with regulators. Banks historically have been good at compliance and regulation, but have struggled building customer-friendly technology. I’m proud of TransferWise for doing both of these things very well.
The power of our technology comes from building direct integrations with local banking systems in each country. Earlier this year, we became the first non-bank to gain access to the Bank of England’s interbank payment systems, by integrating with the Faster Payment Scheme (FPS). Now our UK customers can send instant payments 24/7.
We also work closely with financial regulators to make laws more customer-friendly. For example, we recently worked with the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to change the law that made customers do face-to-face document verification before sending money abroad. They used to have to take their IDs to their local bank branches to get verified; now they can do the entire process online in a few minutes.
Can you share what you believe will be the “Top 5 Fintech and Banking Trends Over The Next 3 Years” (Please share a story or example for each.)
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”?
I have two:
Originally published at medium.com