The Fintech Pioneers Finding Success
In partnership with Kathryn Schmid
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From the way consumers access their bank accounts or financial services to the developments of blockchain technology, financial technology has drastically changed the future of finance.
However, with the S&P 500 officially entering a bear market following a decline of 21% in its opening 2022 prices and a liquidity crisis that has spread across the fintech market, many investors fear wider declines in the industry.
Fintech pioneers Lucy Liu, Tim Heath, Ali Niknam and Neil Rimer continue to lead the industry with innovation and character.
Lucy Liu, Airwallex
At the age of 25, Liu co-founded Airwallex, a global payments fintech platform that transforms the way businesses function and manage money, providing a better solution for companies operating across borders. Previously working in the finance industry, Liu was immediately drawn to the purpose of Airwallex: to create a better financial system for businesses and help them to grow and develop in markets worldwide.
Along with her friends from the University of Melbourne, Jack Zhang, Max Li and Xijing Dai, Liu co-founded Airwallex in 2015. The company has had major success over the past few years, with Liu currently serving as the President. In 2018, Airwallex achieved unicorn status and is valued at US $2.6 billion (€2.5 billion) as of September 2021. In a male-driven marketplace, Liu continues to push the boundaries with her tenacity and perseverance, seeking more ways to drive the industry forward.
Tim Heath, Yolo Group
Heath is the founder of Yolo Group, a conglomerate focused on bringing next-level innovation to the worlds of gaming, fintech and blockchain. As a serial founder with a background in gaming and crypto, Heath saw an opportunity at the cross-section of online gaming and fintech, establishing Yolo Group in 2014.
Yolo Group built B2B products for the gaming industry before launching Bitcasino.io, a consumer-facing brand and the world’s first licensed bitcoin casino. Over the years, Yolo Group has continued to carve out its niche in the fintech industry, particularly iGaming, where it has launched its other well-known brands, Sportsbet.io and Slots.io.
Under Heath’s leadership, Yolo Group has grown tremendously, adapting to the shifting trends and demands of the iGaming and larger fintech industry. As a relentless innovator, always looking for the next opportunity and problem to solve, Heath has expanded Yolo Group’s offerings, which currently consist of five distinct businesses ranging from tech to finance.
Of these businesses, Heath is actively involved in the VC firm Yolo Investments. Recognizing the frustrations and problems with the current international payment system, Heath is focused on investing in fintech startups that aim to disrupt the norm, bringing the system into the 21st century.
Ali Niknam, bunq
Niknam has been an entrepreneur from a young age, setting up his first company at the age of 16. In his early twenties, he founded TransIP, one of the biggest domain names and web-hosting providers in The Netherlands. Currently, he is the founder and CEO of bunq, an independent bank that is fully online.
Wanting to challenge the traditional banking industry and create a “freer” bank, Niknam founded bunq in 2012. Less than 10 years later, bunq became a unicorn, making the largest Series A round for a European fintech company with a valuation of$1.63 billion (€1.6 billion) as of July 2021.
Niknam’s main focus for the company is to constantly innovate, building a truly unique community where people feel as if they are leading the conversation as well as giving back to society through saving the environment or raising money for local causes.
Neil Rimer, Index Ventures
For the past 25 years, Rimer has been at the forefront of the European VC market. As a founding partner of Index Ventures, one of the U.K.’s oldest VC firms, he has been in the game for a long time, adapting his style and business to the trends. With a recent shift in focus to fintech, Index Ventures has built an impressive portfolio, investing in companies such as Robinhood and Adyen. Having raised more than $9 billion, the company continues its aim to bring its Silicon Valley-style investing to Europe.
In 2021, Rimer was featured in Forbes Global and European Midas List for top tech investors, as well as recently being appointed as co-chair of NGO Human Rights Watch.
Rimer is a strong believer that the best founders might be stubborn and bull-headed but always willing to listen and ask for advice. He has built his career on this philosophy by constantly learning and never holding onto “sacred truths” too tightly.
In an industry mired by market volatility and fluctuations in investor confidence, these four individuals have found ways to adapt and continue innovating. Not only do they have the strong personality traits that so many entrepreneurs possess, they also have the ability to take a step back, analyze the bigger picture, learn from advice and then return to their fintech journey.
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