Wed, 07 February 2024
In the ever-evolving landscape of financial technology, Beyon Money has emerged as a pioneering force in the Kingdom, reshaping the traditional paradigms of banking and financial services. In an exclusive interview with Bahrain This Month, Beyon Money’s CEO, Roberto Mancone, delves into the remarkable journey of this Fintech disruptor, from its inception to its strategic international expansion plans and how it is shaping the future of finance.
Thank you for joining us, Mr. Mancone! Firstly, can you share your impressive career history?
I started out initially working for significant financial institutions in my native Italy, then the United States in Chicago and New York, followed by various postings in London, Germany and Ireland through roles with BNP Paribas and Deutsche Bank, leading technology transformations focusing on emerging technologies like artificial intelligence, blockchain and IoT. In 2020, I joined Beyon Money, aiming to establish a unique financial services entity in Bahrain.
What were the motivations behind establishing Beyon Money?
The company’s goal was not to create a traditional bank but to leverage cutting-edge technology and global partnerships to offer innovative financial solutions. In other words, a financial solution resembling a bank but distinguished by speed, agility and advanced technology. Despite the challenges, we obtained the necessary licenses within eight months and we fully launched in January 2022.
Our regulatory framework, facilitated by the Central Bank of Bahrain (CBB), allowed us to obtain licenses swiftly, fostering an ecosystem that enabled collaboration with regulators, infrastructure providers, technology firms and Fintech players.
How does Beyon Money differentiate itself from traditional banks?
We wanted to eliminate the challenges posed by legacy infrastructure and cumbersome governance structures. The idea was to create a speedboat because it’s easier to manoeuvre a speedboat than it is a tanker! The company focused on leveraging technology for a user-friendly experience, starting with a quick onboarding process via a virtual prepaid card that offered the benefits of a credit card to a diverse demographic without the traditional barriers.
We then continued to broaden our services, including remittances, personal financial management and the introduction of Flexi Invest, which allows people even with amounts as little as BD10 to have a remuneration on their liquidity instead of creating hurdles of larger amounts.
How influential has the Central Bank of Bahrain been in shaping Beyon Money’s journey?
The CBB has played a pivotal role in opening up the market to Fintech companies, providing a regulatory framework and fostering healthy competition. Beyon Money sees the CBB as instrumental not only for our establishment in Bahrain but also in expanding to other markets by showcasing our successful model to regulators in different countries.
Can you discuss Beyon Money’s international expansion strategy and current market presence?
We announced last year that we are expanding, starting in the UAE and have already obtained a license from the Abu Dhabi Global Market and are in the process of receiving one from Central Bank UAE. After this, Saudi Arabia will be next since the company aims to establish itself as a prominent player in the three major countries driving financial growth in the region.
How does Beyon Money approach technology, particularly in terms of agility and user experience?
Beyon Money emphasises the importance of technology, employing microservices architecture for agility and constant evolution. We release new functionalities and services regularly, ensuring that the app remains fresh and relevant to users. The emphasis on speed, precision, regulation and respect forms the core of our approach to technology.
What challenges does Beyon Money face, especially concerning client engagement and financial literacy?
One significant challenge is addressing varying client behaviours and preferences. Beyon Money constantly analyses client interactions with the app to enhance user experience and engagement. Financial literacy is identified as a crucial point, with efforts made to communicate the benefits of digital technology, such as virtual cards, to clients who may not be familiar with them.
We use data mining, business intelligence and also artificial intelligence to make sure that we have a prompt evaluation of what clients like or don’t like.
How does Beyon Money stand out in a competitive market, and what is its approach to constant innovation?
We constantly strive for innovation, aiming to surprise and attract clients with new features regularly. We acknowledge the transient nature of client loyalty, emphasising the need to consistently offer something novel to stay ahead of the competition.
How does Beyon Money ensure the security of its platform, particularly in the realm of cybersecurity and fraud prevention?
Beyon Money employs a multi-faceted approach to security, collaborating with companies like Beyon Cyber and utilising AWS for secure cloud solutions. The company also partners with Visa to prevent card-related fraud and employs cutting-edge technology to combat money laundering and other potential threats. Security remains a top priority to maintain the trust of our regulators and clients.
Can you discuss the growth trajectory of Beyon Money and the challenges associated with rapid expansion?
As a start-up, Beyon Money has experienced rapid growth, achieving 100 percent year-on-year growth. Of course, we have to sustain this growth whilst also balancing client expectations, team performance and regulatory compliance. However, I am very excited to lead Beyon Money into the future and it’s a challenge I relish. The key lies in maintaining speed, precision and a motivated team to meet ambitious targets consistently.
What is Beyon Money’s stance on talent and skill development, especially within Bahrain?
Local talent is hugely important to us and we actively seek resources within Bahrain. We aim to contribute to skill development by providing career paths for individuals entering the market. Collaboration with organisations like Tamkeen allow us to focus on equipping newcomers with the necessary skills to contribute to the growing Fintech sector in Bahrain.
Anything you’d like to add?
I mainly want to say that I am so proud of Beyon Money’s journey so far. I am excited to steer it into the future as CEO, making it the flagship in the GCC region and a source of pride for Bahrain. Our devotion to continuous innovation, commitment to technology and strategic expansion plans position us as a significant player in the evolving landscape of Fintech, hopefully for many years to come.