🧠 Some personal news.
No, Hayley isn't pregnant 😅
No, I'm not joining a16z (although that meme is fantastic, as is the team there).
No, I’m not going full time writer.
Ok Simon, what are you doing then?
I am stepping back from day-to-day responsibilities at 11:FS to pursue something I'm incredibly excited about. The good folks at Sardine have asked me to be their Head of Strategy & Content, and I'm thrilled to say I've joined them!
You never stop being a co-founder, but sometimes you gotta try something new. Don't worry; you'll still see me representing 11:FS everywhere I go. And I absolutely believe digital banking is 1% finished. Whether you're an incumbent, Fintech, or in Web3. Team 11 should be your first call.
Anyone who knows me knows I believe a few things deeply.
Finance touches everything: how criminals get paid, how schools get built, and the incentive structure for the global economy. If you change finance, you can impact people's lives, from preventing scams, hacks, and crime to creating financial opportunities for billions of the world's poorest people.
Nothing is more broken than how we manage Fraud and AML in financial services. AML is 99.9% ineffective, leading to drug cartels, gangs, and fraudsters getting away with everything from scamming pensioners out of their savings to human trafficking.
Payments are the core primitive of finance, and payments want to be instant. But instant payments = instantly losing your retirement savings to fraudsters. We need smarter payment rails.
Web 3 and DeFi present an opportunity to build a much more efficient, fair, and transparent financial infrastructure. But it must be backwardly compatible with existing finance to succeed, and there is a huge need for specialists who can help manage the risks in this new infrastructure.
When I met Sardine, I realized this is a money movement company with the perfect wedge product to impact everything above.
If we're heading to a world with real-time payments and money movement, we'll see real-time Fraud, crime, and even more risk.
The best instant payments product in this world would be the best Fraud, AML, and compliance product. Put another way, the world's best risk prevention team would also build the world's best payments product.
Sardine has the world's most sophisticated Fraud, AML, and Risk AI engine. It is used by Fintech companies, merchants, Crypto, and Traditional Financial Institutions to increase conversion, increase growth and massively reduce Fraud and chargebacks with industry-leading results. They and use the AI to then enable real time settlement even in high risk scenarios like funding (and receiving from) a Crypto wallet.
The choice used to be better compliance = fewer transactions and less growth.
So growth companies would choose to approve transactions and write off the fraud.
But now, Fintech companies and Crypto companies are increasingly being blocked by the larger banks, who see them as risky. This frustrates users and reduces growth at the same time.
What nobody realizes about Fraud is reducing fraud increases conversion! It increases growth! (there's a whole blog post about that someday, seeing the data on that blew my mind). Reduced fraud = more approved transactions because banks won’t block you any more.
I also learned that that most issues come from customers that went through proper KYC (🤯).
Unless you have a complete picture of customers across devices, behavior, bank data, AML, consortium data, and crypto transaction data, you will miss a massive amount. Building the complete picture of a customer enables more real-time transactions and higher converting customers.
Let's catch the bad guys, regardless of their infrastructure, TradFi or DeFi, Fintech or Incumbent.
Then let's give the good users real-time everything.
So my rationale went something like this 👇
Imagine if you could hire the world's best payments, risk, and fraud team via an API?
Now imagine if quietly they had customers like FTX, Moonpay, Brex, and Transak?
Now imagine they've launched instant-ACH in the US?
Sardine enables anyone to move money confidently.
So getting confident about joining them was a no-brainer.
Did I mention the team is a who's who of Fraud, Fintech, and Crypto nerds I get to learn from?
I couldn't resist.
What does that mean for 11:FS?
My journey at 11:FS took me from a relative unknown in the industry to a global platform, allowing me to learn from some of the best talent, execs, and clients in the industry. I owe so much to the leadership team, past and present, and everyone who's worked there. To everyone at 11:FS, thank you.
That was my story, but what about the next generation?
I am excited by the next generation of talent at 11:FS, Gwera Kiwana, Benjamin Ensor, Kate Moody, Ross Gallagher, Mauricio Magaldi, and Pierre Lagrande. That's before I mention the incredible talent you don't see producing reports, podcasts, and 11:FS Pulse. Oh, and the little matter of being an engineering partner for Crypto custodians, building digital banks for incumbents, and helping Exec teams develop their strategies.
Not being around those folks every day is going to be super hard.
But you can be.
What does this mean for Brainfood?
In short. Nothing.
I think the value of this space is that its unbiased. I’ve outlined why I got conviction about one company, but that doesn’t mean I don’t get excited by others. If anything the opposite. I can’t help but get stupidly excited when I see something new in Fintech or web3. It’s like some weird compulsion, that unless I share, I’m gonna explode.
So, try me.
Ultimately you’re the ones that will hold me to account on that by voting with your feet (or, rather, clicks).
I'm still a massive Fintech nerd; this is a personal space to think out loud.
Un-edited by anyone except Grammar.ly.
There was no newsletter last week because I had a lot of real life stuff.
But now we’re back to regularly scheduled programming.
And if you're still game, I'm still happy to send you a rant every weekend! :)