Last year Finablr, a money transfer business that once looked like the future of the industry, collapsed after hidden debts of £1.3 billion suddenly emerged.
An accounting scandal followed and the shares were suspended while investigations raged, not least into founder BR Shetty, the Indian entrepreneur also behind scandal-ridden NMC Health.
A takeover deal from a little-known Middle Eastern business called Prism Advance Solutions followed.
In an interview with the Evening Standard, Prism CEO Amir Nagammy says why he wants to save a business that employs 6000 people, several hundred of them at the London office in Canary Wharf.
What’s your story?
I’m an entrepreneur and investor who specialises in technology and financial services companies – from start-ups to established market leaders.
I’ve got 25 years of experience building and scaling companies in the UK, the Gulf, and emerging markets.
Alongside Guy Rothschild, I founded and chair the Prism Group, a private equity firm that leverages the potential of disruptive technologies to transform traditional business models, from financial services to the life sciences and renewables.
In business I’m very hands on, and love a challenge - which is why I want to turn Finablr around.
Why is Prism acquiring Finablr?
In December last year, Prism has teamed up with Abu Dhabi based Royal Strategic Partners, one of the country’s leading private equity investors, to buy Finablr’s assets.
Besides loving a challenge, Finablr is an exciting company with huge potential that deserves to be saved.
Finablr was listed on the London Stock Exchange, and in 2018, the company had over 18,000 employees and revenues of £1 billion.
Globally, Finablr’s network includes operations in 170 countries and the company processed over 150 million transactions worth £82 billion in its latest year of operation.
If the company becomes insolvent, tens of millions of people around the world who rely on the company to send money to support their families will be affected by the collapse of the company.
But It’s also an investment in the future, as payment solutions like Finablr and its portfolio of innovative fintech assets, including Xpress Money and UAE Exchange have boomed during the pandemic.
What are your plans for the payment platform?
We are transforming the company into something like PayPal. There are hundreds of millions of unbanked people all over the world who need something like this.
We have built a cracking team, including management consultants Alvarez & Marsal, who will help Prism remedy Finablr’s funding challenges and expand the business.
We will be restructuring the company to improve efficiency and make it a success once again.
A priority is implementing a management team that can deliver on Finablr’s potential.
How will the UK benefit from the deal?
The deal would save hundreds of jobs in the UK and create many more over the coming years. The deal is a huge vote of confidence in Brexit Britain, rebuilding trust in the UK’s business environment
Prism and Finablr are international companies, with roots deep in the Middle East and Asia - the deal would strengthen relations between the UK and these markets as it seeks to establish itself as ‘Global Britain’
What has COVID’s impact been on the sector?
Fintech has boomed due to digital acceleration on an unprecedented scale.
Digital payments are now the norm while cash is the exception, with millions using services like Finablr.
Consumers will not be regressing back to cash, as the transition to digital payments was a long time coming, the pandemic has only expedited the switch.
After months locked down, Brits are now out indulging and of course spending using digital platforms. When restrictions are fully eased, the summer spending boom will only highlight how instrumental fintech has become to modern society.
Is Brexit an opportunity or a barrier to fintech in the UK?
Abandoning EU rules and regulations will give the UK the opportunity to ensure London’s fintech hub not only survives but thrives as the global leader.
Brexit will also allow the UK to attract fintech talent from across the world, not just the EU.
The stronger Britain’s fintech sector grows, the greater the ties that bind the entire banking sector to Britain become.