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Lemon’s head in Currency Cloud

TECHCITYINSIDER100: Cloud-based foreign exchange payments facilitator Currency Cloud has emerged as a game changer in the UK fintech sector. Co-founder Steve Lemon tells Toni Sekinah why he believes the cross-border payments platform is so innovative.

The growth of the cloud has steadily been transforming the way business is done, with legacy systems across sectors finding themselves pushed to one side. Few industries are seeing this shift more dramatically than fintech.

Lemon SteveThe transformation is seeing the rise and rise of new platforms and services offering new ways of working. One of London’s leading fintech providers now doing just that is Currency Cloud.

At its heart, Currency Cloud offers cross-border payments as a service.

Any organisation providing payment services can benefit from the CC platform. These include small banks, FX brokers, payments companies, e-commerce businesses, financial institutions, online and mobile payment providers, pre-paid card providers and digital currency exchanges.

Its cloud platform gives its customers access to a full range of payment networks and exchange rate providers, fully automating the entire payments cycle from pricing through to execution, receipt and reporting.

So, CC has taken the organisational and infrastructure needs of small banks and more and commoditised them to create a cloud-based utility.

“By customers using our technology, we allow them to run a regulated, international payments business very efficiently,” says CC sales director Steve Lemon.

Lemon himself has brought a strong background in foreign exchange to the business table. As the man responsible for new business and bringing on new customers, he can draw on his experience both as an FX broker and a financial services headhunter.

He was a co-founding member at “old-school retail brokerage” HiFX, where he was in charge of private client business. “We set up the business from scratch and I have to say I loved every minute of it,” he says.

From there Lemon moved on to co-found Indigo Recruitment, which specialised in finding talent for foreign exchange and financial industry positions.

Currency Cloud’s services are most useful to those organisations looking to set up or expand upon or improve the technology of an existing payments business, says Lemon.

Clients already on board include Fidor Bank, a German institution that operates solely online; it uses Currency Cloud to power its e-wallet service.

Using TCC’s API means that Fidor Bank was able to expand its business to include foreign exchange payments and transfers without having to invest in the necessary infrastructure.

The CC business, set up in 2009, now helps power some of the brightest businesses on the burgeoning UK fintech scene. Lemon is in the fortunate position of being able to reel off names.

“TransferWise has got quite a reputation in London at the moment,” says Lemon. “And Azimo, a remittance business, also uses our services. World Remit, a large tech-led remittance business, has just successfully completed a large funding round. We also work with MangoPay, which enables its customers to process high volumes of low-value transactions.

“Currency Cloud integrates with the existing business of all of these organisations,” he says.

On behalf of its clients CC processes around $650m of payments each month – and makes money by charging them a platform usage fee.

The company finds itself well financed, too. Having raised a $9m series A round in 2012, in April this year it completed a series B round including backing from Notion Capital and Silicon Valley bank

The funding has helped the business in its recent expansion to the United States. Although headquartered in London – which Lemon believes is the global foreign exchange capital – Currency Cloud now has additional offices in New York and Malta, as well as a team of tech developers based in the Ukraine.

Lemon says that Currency Cloud is in the fortunate position of not having any direct competitors and, although there are some businesses that do elements of what it does, “nobody out there is doing exactly what we do.”

So all looks to be going well then. However, Lemon does have concerns about the regulatory environment for the business.

“The regulations are constantly changing,” he says, “and not just for us. There are increased requirements for the Know Your Customer regulations, governing client verification, for the whole industry. It presents challenge and opportunities for those with the ability to meet those challenges.”

In spite of the “shifting sands” of the regulatory environment Lemon is optimistic about the future of Currency Cloud because of its collaborators.

“We have an excellent relationship with our suppliers, our bank partner suppliers our compliance consultants, we’ve got a strong compliance team and it’s just a case of everybody working together and finding the best solution that meets the increased obligations and doesn’t impinge on the customer experience.“

Steve Lemon – CV

Since 2009
Sales director & Co-founder, Currency Cloud

2006-08
Managing Director & Co-founder, Indigo Recruitment

1998-2006
Director, HiFX.