Our Start-up of the Week is fintech firm Leveris, which has developed a digital banking platform for traditional banks and emerging challengers.
Leveris is a Dublin-headquartered start-up with offices in Prague, Brno and Minsk. Since it was launched in 2016, the business has grown its team to more than 200 employees who have experience in financial services, technology and banking.
Founded and led by Conor Fennelly, the start-up’s goal is to imagine a better way to build a bank. It has built an end-to-end core banking platform for both traditional and challenger banks, as well as consumer brands entering the banking and lending space.
The company’s founder has seen various ventures take him from Ireland to Silicon Valley, south-east Asia and many places in between, throughout his career working with Nomad Software Solutions and eoBuy.
Some of the technologies he has helped build over the years have been licensed and deployed by governments and Fortune 500 companies, in areas such as systems integration, bank transformation, mobile phone networks and digital music distribution.
Fennelly told Siliconrepublic.com that the idea for Leveris came from a “failure” he recognised in the banking industry to modernise in the same way that other sectors have.
“It’s not so much a case of banks failing their customers, but more a case of technology failing banks,” he said. “At Leveris, we believe that the systemic problems facing banks can be addressed almost entirely with technology. And we’re on a mission to do just that.”
There is a “really vast” market growing at the moment, Fennelly said, with traditional banks seeing competition from digital challengers that are setting out to challenge the status quo. However, he added that many competitors in this space claim to provide an end-to-end banking solution, which can often turn out to be a middleware or front-end provider.
“Our platform is completely removed from legacy technology, the kind that hampers most traditional banks today. We’ve architected our platform to be a standalone entity, unencumbered by existing systems so that our clients can offer their customers a wide range of financial services.”
What does the platform look like?
With Leveris, banks and other fintech clients can use real-time data to generate insights on customer behaviour and inform business decisions.
The platform allows these clients to configure and design new banking and lending products to differentiate their businesses from the competition. This can include current accounts, deposit accounts, personal loans, mortgages and more.
‘Banks are sitting on an extraordinary resource: customer data’
– CONOR FENNELLY
Fennelly said that the Leveris platform can be rapidly deployed and set up in a matter of weeks, rather than months. He described it as a low-cost alternative to launching and running a bank through other methods. It is also modular – meaning that clients can select the elements they need to create a relevant platform for their own business.
It can be integrated with other third-party vendors through open APIs and is built to recognise financial and data regulations such as PSD2, GDPR and MiFID II. Fennelly added that the platform aims to ensure data integrity and confidentiality by incorporating preventative controls at infrastructure, application and operational layers.
‘The Google of banking’
Leveris is looking to enable banks to use data to advocate for customers, in order to save money, make a profit and provide a better basis on which to make decisions.
“In short, we want to be the Google of banking,” Fennelly explained. “Banks are sitting on an extraordinary resource: customer data.
“To comprehend the kind of opportunity being lost, take Google as a comparison. The tech giant has built a world-class business based on data that understands intent. Nonetheless, despite Google’s incredibly successful model, banks possess much higher-quality data.
“Think about it,” he continued. “Banks don’t just understand intent. They capture what is transacted. Transactional data is much more reliable as an identifier of future intent. It also creates a much more forensic profile of an individual than one generated by organisations in other industries.”
Fennelly said that Leveris aims to be at the forefront of the “transformational change” that this use of data could bring to banking. In particular, he added that the “havoc” Covid-19 has brought on banks has given the start-up the opportunity to demonstrate what its technology can do.
As a result of opportunities that have arisen during the Covid-19 pandemic, Leveris is now looking to form more partnerships with banks and companies in 2020, to help them boost their ability to serve digital-savvy banking customers.
Although the start-up has previously kept a low profile, quietly raising €15m in 2018, it has lofty ambitions for the future.
“We are currently in the process of raising €100m in order to get where we want to be,” Fennelly said. “We’re in talks with a number of potential investors, but we want to make sure it’s the right fit for us.
“It’s still difficult and time-consuming to raise funds in Ireland and in Europe in general. The challenge with fundraising is that it can take senior management out of the operational and strategic side of the business for extended periods … which isn’t ideal.”
When asked what he thinks of Ireland’s start-up scene, Fennelly noted that there is a serious calibre of tech businesses that have sprung up in the country, such as Intercom and Pointy. He puts this down to the “superb quality and culture” of software development in Ireland and the comprehensive range of supports available from the likes of Enterprise Ireland.
“Enterprise Ireland has been a huge advocate for us, a great help not only on the funding side, but also in business development,” he added. “The agency has opened doors for us in places as far away as China and Australia.”
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