Innovation comes in many different shapes and forms. The great fintech revolution has been fantastic and has led us to have lots of mobile applications stored in our smartphones. Really a lot. The fragmentation or unbundling of financial services has meant many different touchpoints on both Android and Apple smartphones. Maybe we have too many and the experience is unequal on both operating systems. What about cross-platform mobile applications? Fintech Review asked a questions to Abay Serkebayev, CPO at CFP Technology, and developing the cross-platform mobile application for banking transactions CFPS.
Tell us more about CFPS. What is your elevator pitch?
I am the CPO at CFP Technology. I am developing a fintech product, a cross-platform mobile application for banking transactions, which, as you can tell from the company name, is called CFPS. At the moment I am working on releasing an MVP with easy-to-understand functionalities for our audience. So I am sure that this app’s logo will appear on smartphone screens all over the world very soon.
Let me make it clear that we are talking about a neobank. There will be no physical branches – everything will be as simple, convenient and, most importantly, fast as possible. At the first stage of the app implementation, customers will already be able to order a card and use basic functions. For instance, the ability to open multi-currency accounts, quickly transfer money, save and spend cashback in the most popular stores. And, of course, payments with Apple Pay and Samsung Pay will also be included, there is no way around it.
By the way, making a personalized cashback service as convenient and pleasant for the user as possible is my priority for the first year. I want people to receive not just bonuses, but real money on their cards. The transfer of money via SWIFT, SEPA, CHAPS and other systems will also be freely available.
I have conducted a lot of research and in-depth interviews, and found out that most neobanks make their customers feel uncomfortable. This is due not only to complex add-ons, but also to the lack of adequate technical support. More often than not, mobile app user problems are solved by robots, chatbots. They use certain templates, which are confusing for users. I decided to take a different path, so CFPS is completely user-centric. We plan to avoid using chatbots in communication with our customers and put it in the hands of customer support with real employees behind it.
What is your background and what is the story behind the company?
In 2012 I became a student at London Business School and graduated from it in 2014 with an Executive MBA degree. Before that I worked in the banking sector, but I quickly outgrew my job. I wanted something bigger, even more useful and perhaps more complicated. Therefore, after graduating from LBS, I went to the Russian Federation where I gained my basic technological experience. I decided to continue my career in Moscow, home for some of the most famous IT companies and developers in Russia. There I began to progress in product management, and rose to Senior Product Manager and then Chief Product Officer.
At that time I had already worked quite a lot on developing third-party products and projects, and I knew exactly what I wanted. And since I lived in London for many years and traveled virtually all over Europe, I understood exactly what people lacked: fast everyday banking. I conducted more than a hundred in-depth interviews, analyzed the situation, and all my assumptions turned out to be reasonable from a scientific point of view.
Not long after that, the CFPS startup was born in Estonia, which I headed to. Incredible talents began to gather around it: product managers, developers, programmers, financiers…. Now there are over 50 people in the team. We are united by one goal: to release a fintech product, or rather a neobanking mobile app. My business strategy is to move from West to East, from the UK to Eastern Europe. And I don’t plan to stop. There is more to come!
What is a cross-platform application?
These are applications and services we have long been accustomed to, they are developed and run on both Android and iOS. The essence of the development process is that the source code of the application is translated into the native code, i.e. comprehensible to a specific mobile device. Thus we get a program that can work with any operating system. In passing, it has a lot of advantages: expansion of the user base due to the presence in several stores at once, the increased speed of development, and the reduced number of employees thanks to only one source code which is suitable for everything.
One of the disadvantages is an imperfect interface in terms of adaptation. Many companies create good visuals for one operating system, but they run out of steam when working on another one. As a result, we see hundreds of incomprehensible and useless applications on the market. Of course, the CFPS app will work like clockwork.
The main drawback of cross-platform applications is, of course, the struggle for primacy among development tools. Whereas React Native and Xamarin were previously the most popular ones among developers, now Flutter has come to the forefront. This may mean a possible deterioration in code support, for example, in terms of responsiveness for projects already implemented on earlier frameworks. Fortunately, I was not affected by this problem at all. CFPS is at the cutting edge of technology. I strive to use the latest technological developments in the business model to create truly reliable and fast everyday banking.
What is CFPS doing in that area?
Let me mention again that CFPS is a cross-platform application. It will be available to users of any operating systems. I took into account all the mistakes and successful solutions of my competitors, worked hard on the UX/UI design and created a really cool interface. It is beautiful, convenient and understandable. So there you go: no unnecessary buttons, tabs, sections, weird footnotes and useless moves. “Swipe right for this action, left for another, and down for flying to the moon”. It all looks very modern, of course. Which doesn’t make our lives any easier. CFPS is targeting millennials, they’re very picky, they are used to both fancy and convenient services. I can’t let them down. Therefore, the interface will allow them to perform almost all actions in one touch.
Are there any innovations in fintech in general that you are really excited about?
Biometric technology turned my head. I dream about implementing artificial intelligence in CFPS. And these are indeed our plans for the near future. If you analyze the trends, you will see that the global industry is shifting towards biometrics. It becomes an extension of the already well-known contactless payment technology with NFC. Apple Pay, Google Pay, Samsung Pay are already actively using it. Biometric payments are an even more convenient alternative.
New payment providers are rapidly entering our lives. Despite the fact that everything is happening in a test mode, it is already changing the paradigm of existing systems. Users will soon be able to forget about being tied to physical cards and the NFC system. I think that in the next 5-7 years we can expect the introduction of biometric technology around the world. It will be a real technological breakthrough that will make life easier for millions of users.
Unfortunately, new technology cannot guarantee absolute security. That is why I hope that classic banks will take part in the development of this industry. I am sure that when the introduction of this technology starts all over the world, the latest security systems will be used in order to avoid unpleasant experiences with NFC payments. I think everyone remembers the cases when fraudsters easily debited users’ cards by pressing the terminal to the bag with the physical card inside it. The distance of 3-5 centimeters was enough to make a remote payment.
In my opinion, a lot will also depend on the speed of information processing. Say, how fast can the system cope with the flow of people at the turnstiles in the metro? I think these indicators will be the main criterion for the implementation of the technology.
The fintech industry will also benefit undeniably from biometric technology. So far, only infrastructure projects such as large transportation companies can afford face payment systems. In addition, the technology remains relevant for undeground, train and airplane controls. As soon as the process is fully implemented into the everyday part of our lives, I am sure that non-banks will quickly join the project and make this innovation completely habitual and commonplace for users.
Very soon we will see how deeply biometric technology permeates our lives. If the industry reaches its peak in 7 years, I am sure that neobanks will start implementing it literally within the next 3 years.
About the interviewee
Abay Serkebayev has worked in the product management and fintech industries for over 10 years. His degree from London Business School has helped him shape and promote a vision of how to provide the market with simple and straightforward solutions that can really work for people to improve their financial future.
Abay is a dynamic, result-oriented leader in evaluation, sourcing, project development for startups, medium-sized companies and large corporations. He has extensive experience in finance and technology. Managed successful cross-selling of products, working closely with various partners around the world. Abay has impressively implemented marketing strategies in large corporations such as ABN-AMRO and Orix Corporation.
Keep up with the company news on Abay’s social network accounts: