It was a cold wet Dublin morning when I realised it was time to build my own bank.
I went to the ATM for cash, but even though my balance looked OK I couldn’t get my cash. There was a bill payment due, or about to be paid, or some other reason I didn’t understand. As I trudged through the rain I decided that I should be able to write some code and fix this for myself. I’d solved some pretty tricky problems for global companies like Ericsson, Vodafone and O2 – how hard could it be?
It turned out I wasn’t alone. An enthusiastic mix of finance and technology people were calling themselves ‘FinTech’. The FinTech people, like me, were unsatisfied with financial products – and better still they were already creating businesses to provide great alternatives.
The more I learned, the more it seemed like the odds were stacked against us. Regulation, funding, access to banking networks – all closed to startups. The FinTech Ireland group (set up by Morgan Lynch at senddr.com) graciously agreed to let me run a meetup where we imagined what it would take to launch a thousand FinTech startups here in Ireland. Yes, there are barriers – but there are also supports and an amazing community who is willing to share their experience. Plus one for Dublin!
Thanks to the friendly startup scene in this town, I got to meet some pretty cool Fintech companies based right on my doorstep. CurrencyFair got a great funding round recently, and their CEO Brett Meyers is a super-friendly guy to bounce ideas around with. The list goes on: PayWithFire, Rubicoin, Chasing Returns, Signatur, Senddr and more.
But it wasn’t only startups who wanted to change the status quo. It turned out that a couple of mavericks inside the banks were already causing trouble. Imagine convincing a bank to run a hackathon titled ‘#hackmakethebank’ – and this is exactly what the amazing Liam Moran did, and is continuing to do. I convinced a couple of friends to join me.
Simply finding a place to work can be a real problem. Again, Dublin came to the rescue in the form of David Tighe and the Startup Workbench in Grand Canal Square. We were building a bank, in a bank. Being in the centre of startup land you get to meet some interesting people – like Brett King of Breaking Banks. Next, we needed some money to allow us to build our vision. Yet again, Dublin stepped up, this time in the form of the NDRC LaunchPad ‘pre-accelerator’ programme, run by the ‘Godfather of FinTech’ Gary Leyden.
And so, in only a few short months we built a bank. It’s a current account, with no forms to fill in, and an app for sharing money instantly with your friends for the the things you do every day. Best of all, it’s instant and there are no fees – ever. We’re currently in alpha testing and we’ll be opening up to beta users this summer.
Except we can’t call it a bank. So we called it Bynk.