Andrew Beacock has over 25 years of software engineering experience up his sleeve. He has worked with several companies across software security, telecommunication, and financial services sectors. Notably, he has worked with small and big companies, including Nokia.
Andrew started his software engineering career at a software security company. Shortly after, he got a job in a telecommunication company working on voicemail platforms and systems. After some time, he joined Nokia and worked on Nokia’s reputable multimedia and picture messages services. Having spent ten years in the telecommunications industry, Andrew decided to join a different industry. He opted for a life assurance company and worked with the company for 12 years.
Currently, Andrew works as the Head of Engineering at Canopy—a fintech company seeking to improve the lives of renters by enabling them to get the type of property they want with less paperwork and considerable ease. Canopy provides users with a digital rent passport based on their credit rating. Users can share this rent passport with landlords and/or letting agents to show that they have a good renting history, a verified source of income, and can afford the rent.
Canopy also uses open banking to track users’ rent history and report the data to credit companies to help build their credit rating. Also, the platform monitors the spending habits of its users and recommends ways users can improve their credit rating based on their spending habits.
In this article, we share details of our conversation with Andrew Beacock on building a trustworthy fintech product. However, you can also watch the full video on our discussion with Andrew via the link below if you’d prefer to do so:
As a tech leader, you’ll be responsible for a lot more than your organization’s engineering, architecture, or operational requirements. And if you’re looking to build a trustworthy product, you’ll need to promote your organization’s brand to instill confidence in your product’s users and ensure that the business scales to generate consistent revenue.
Andrew recommends building your personal brand to promote your company’s fintech product. In his words, “Building your personal brand as a tech leader is good for you and your company as it attracts potential users to your company and improves your reputation as a tech leader.” Also, you can easily attract talents to your company, making recruitment a lot easier for your company.
However, building a personal brand requires proactive effort. Luckily, Andrew shared some steps you can take to build your personal brand as follows:
This should typically be something you’re genuinely interested in within your field and would like to contribute to the conversations on the topic or start conversations on the topic.
You can build a personal brand on any social media platform. However, it’s best to select the social media space you’re familiar with or one where your target audience spends a lot of time.
Thought leaders are people already sharing their thoughts on your brand message on social media platforms or the internet generally. The easiest way to join the conversation on your brand message is to identify these thought leaders, follow them, and engage with their content.
Creating content may seem like an arduous task, but it doesn’t have to be. You don’t have to create lengthy content. You can start with snippets and build your way to content that is much lengthier. In Andrew’s words, “Start small and get the word out there.”
It’s also important to connect with people and build relationships on social media platforms. You don’t need tons of followers. A few meaningful relationships are worth more than followers that do not engage and aren’t interested in your content.
If you’re creating a fintech product, you’ll likely require open banking to provide the fintech services to the users of your product. Open banking enables a third party to securely access one’s financial data from a bank with the person’s express consent, extract the data, and use that data to provide financial services. Also, the consent granted to access the personal data can be withdrawn at any point by the user.
Therefore, to scale your fintech product, it is important to keep obtaining consent to access users’ financial data. As a technical leader in a fintech company, a major part of your responsibility will be ensuring that your product’s users are willing to grant access to their financial data and keep granting such access. If you’re wondering how to achieve this, here are some tips that will help:
Trustworthy brands are not built in a day, but you can take active steps to make your brand stand out as trustworthy. For instance, establishing user-friendly terms and conditions or privacy policies can help instill a sense of trust in your product. You can also focus on building your company’s reputation and the personal brand of your key staff to build trust for your product.
According to Andrew, “You need to offer users value to win their trust and get their consent constantly.” There is a correlation between the data shared and the value received, and users will only be willing to grant access to their data if the value they will receive is worth it. Hence, you should create a product that offers value that your target audience cannot resist.
It’s also important to protect the data you receive from your users by ensuring that it’s encrypted when on transit or within your organization’s control or transferred with the user’s consent. Users will not be willing to use a product if their financial data are not adequately protected.
To ensure additional security and minimize the risk of a data breach, ensure your product is hosted in a safe execution environment. Always confirm that your hosting partner has implemented adequate data protection mechanisms before you host your product on the platform.
Beyond paying attention to the technology and business aspect of fintech products, you can also improve your product’s profitability and win consumers’ trust by improving your product quality through the following methods:
According to Andrew, “Using technology to streamline processes users will have to encounter when using your fintech products can improve the quality of the services they receive.” Some of these processes make the product less user-friendly.
For instance, Andrew states that Canopy is considering using OCR to process recommendation letters submitted by renters on their platform to provide faster analysis. If you can adopt technology to streamline the processes for users, you’ll most likely improve the quality of the services they receive and win their trust.
While the goal may be to build a market-leading product, balancing users’ immediate and future needs and prioritizing based on the value you intend to provide to the users is important. It may not be feasible to implement all the features the product will need at once, so it’s best to work on what’s more valuable at each time.
However, you should still make time to think ahead and figure out the likely future needs of your target audience. Andrew recommends following the market trends to figure out future needs. You can listen to podcasts and read articles on your product market to do so.
Working with an external team may be inevitable when creating a fintech product. You may need to go to market fast enough to meet demand and need extra hands to meet with the target release date.
Developing your product may also require a special skill set that you do not have in-house, and sometimes outsourcing is just more affordable than building in-house.
Whatever the case may be, you need to manage your external team to get the best results. Andrew shared a few tips for working with outsourced teams that you may find helpful:
Andrew recommends getting frequent updates and reports from the leaders of the outsourced team. This will enable you to monitor the product development progress. You will also learn of any challenges the team is facing early and fix them.
Defining the product development and release processes makes working with an outsourced team easier. It ensures that everyone has a clear understanding of the processes and timelines. It prevents delays and minimizes errors.
Another important tip when working with outsourced teams is to use a shared code base or repository. This way, you can monitor the progress, making the release a lot easier. It also allows your internal team to exchange ideas with the outsourced team.
While it may be tempting to closely monitor each step the outsourced team takes, remember that these teams are independent and have their management and reporting structure that works for them. Instead of controlling or managing the outsourced team, establish processes that will guide how they work with your internal team.
When your company is still in the startup stage, you’ll be more concerned with building a product that fits the market as a tech leader. Refining the product several times is completely fine at this stage, and you can iterate, learn, and pivot as needed. However, as your company outgrows this stage, the focus shifts toward ensuring that the product is scalable and stable.
Hence, it would be best if you were proactive as a tech leader to figure out how to maintain the quality of your product as your company’s business grows. Andrew recommends the following practices:
As a tech leader, you need to be certain that your product is scalable and prepared for when you have many users on your platform. Periodic large-scale performance testing will enable you to identify issues that may arise when you have more users for your product. Andrew recommends developing a schedule to carry out large-scale performance testing occasionally.
Reviewing your code is important to build it better and maintain high quality. Andrew recommends developing automation tests to review the code and ensure that your product uses great code. While this may slow down product development, it will come in handy in the long run.
Establishing monitoring and alerting systems for your products will make sure that the team gets notified of any bugs before they affect the service. This will ensure that your product quality is maintained, and you can fix things before they become a problem for the end users.
This is relevant for a fintech product because of users’ data. It’s important to review the product to ensure it is not susceptible to data breaches and penetration. It may involve a lot of paperwork, but it is worth it.
Working in a growing company can be very taxing. There will always be so many things to do at the same time. In Andrew’s words, “You may have to think like an engineer and CTO at the same time.” However, it is important to figure out the most important thing to do at each turn and whether you are the right person to do it or if you should delegate to others and focus on other things.
The traditional financial sector leveraged face-to-face interactions with customers, which made it easier for consumers to trust the brand. Fintech brands are mainly faceless, and entire processes on a fintech platform may be executed without any third-party assistance.
Hence, it’s more difficult to win consumers’ trust for a fintech product than with traditional banking and you need to be intentional about building a trustworthy fintech product worthy of users’ data.
It won’t take just a good product but also a reputable and proactive brand to create a trustworthy fintech product. However, with the tips we’ve shared here, we’re sure you’re all set to build a fintech product users will gladly put their trust into.
Thank you for reading our article. We also recommend checking out the following guides and resources on our blog.
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