The international vision of Toronto-based company Payment Rails has placed company founders Tim Nixon and Ferhan Patel at the cusp of a new movement: fintech startups who see the opportunity in a worldwide customer base. TechPORTFOLIO spoke to co-founder and CEO Tim Nixon about matching ambition with execution on the world fintech stage.
TechPORTFOLIO: When starting a fintech company with an international vision, how do you begin to absorb and work within all the various financial regulations you’ll be dealing with?
Tim Nixon: Our long-term vision is to help business all around the world with their payout needs. However, right now we are primarily focusing on assisting Canadian and U.S. businesses. Our team has extensive experience in navigating financial, payments, AML and compliance rules and regulations, along with the support of experienced and respected advisors and partners.
Therefore, we were able to address these requirements really early on before we even started coding the platform. If I had some advice for other fintech startup founders, it is to understand exactly what is required of you from a regulatory point of view in all the markets you wish to serve and to have a plan to address those before you start building.
TechPORTFOLIO: How important were forming banking partnerships before the launch of Payment Rails? Was this difficult?
Tim Nixon: Working with banking partners and financial institutions is very important to building a global payments business. Fortunately, my co-founder Ferhan and I have almost 20 years’ combined experience in the payments industry. Over the years, we have built trusted relationships with some of the smartest and most influential payments, banking and compliance experts from around the world.
We are truly thankful to have the opportunity to work with many of these people through our new venture, Payment Rails. Within the next two to three years, I believe we will count over 150 financial and non-financial partners working closely with us to provide our next-generation payment infrastructure globally.
TechPORTFOLIO: Is there a “typical” Payment Rails user? What sectors and countries look to be the most active adopters of your service?
Tim Nixon: Right now we are focusing on online marketplaces and platforms that need to pay on-demand workers. We believe very strongly in the future of the on-demand economy, and the millions of people who are deciding every day to start working for themselves as an independent contractor or “freelancer.” This transformation of how people work is truly amazing. There will be half a billion freelance workers worldwide within eight years, according to McKinsey. Almost any skill or service is now readily available from a global labour force, all connecting via online marketplaces and platforms.
In traditional workplaces, a company would turn to a local payroll provider, such as ADP, to pay its employees working in that country. However, new platforms and marketplaces suddenly have workers from 190+ countries to pay. And there aren’t good solutions available today to support their payout needs. This is where Payment Rails and our global mass payout API comes in.
There are many use cases for sending global business payments. We are really just scratching the surface of what is a $54 trillion opportunity. We have received strong interest from businesses in both Canada and the U.S., along with companies from Europe, Asia and Australia reaching out to us.