We were really happy to have Ian Rand, CEO of Barclays Business Bank, take off his tie and spend some time with us in Shoreditch. The great thing was that it was Ian’s idea. He wanted to come and meet the team and have the chance to answer their questions in a relaxed and interactive session.

The Q&A was an opportunity for our team to get to know Ian a bit better and for him to share a Barclays view of the journey that led up to our partnership, as well as what the atmosphere has been like at Barclays since the announcement. It was good to hear that the excitement has been just as palpable in their offices as it has been in ours.

The genesis of searching for a partner

I asked the team to come up with the questions they wanted to ask Ian ahead of time and one of the themes that came up was how Barclays had decided to partner with a Fintech.

Ian explained that the idea was actually three years in the making. During this time, Barclays had come to recognise that using and sharing data in a better way could fundamentally change SME banking. They had also identified invoice finance as a product area that would be ripe for transformation.

“We then started to reach out and look at who else was offering these products and leveraging data. That was really the genesis: we had identified invoice finance as the product, we had been interested in partnerships generally and we knew MarketInvoice as a corporate client, so we set up a meeting.”

Choosing who to partner with

There are a lot of invoice finance products out there, so the team were interested to hear about the thinking that led to Barclays reaching out to MarketInvoice specifically.

“MarketInvoice is not just a product – it’s a platform,” Ian explained. “You’ve got a range of solutions, an online platform, relationships. You can service and reach out to customers both digitally and physically. You’re up and running. How brilliant to have a partner who’s already really good at doing these things!”

Ian spoke about our first meeting with Barclays and reminded me that we spent most of it talking about our customers and the challenges they’re facing – with long payment terms, for example. This meeting of minds was an early indication for both of us that we were onto something. Of course the partnership had to make sense on paper but it was just as important for Barclays and MarketInvoice to share the same DNA and mindset.

Looking forward to getting started

There’s been a real buzz in our office since the announcement and the team can’t wait to start activating our first customers through the partnership. Needless to say, the team were keen to find out if this enthusiasm has been evenly matched at Barclays. Ian had this to say about it:

“Let me tell you something about the excitement level on the ground at Barclays: folks just want to get things moving! The day we made the announcement I got an email from a Relationship Manager saying he’d been speaking to one of his businesses that day, and how soon could he get them set up with invoice finance. That’s just one example but the feedback I’ve had from leaders has been that it’s all their teams want to talk about.”

The future of Fintech-bank collaboration

Something that I was personally very interested to chat about was Ian’s view on the future of Fintech-bank collaboration. For him, there’s absolutely no question that there are going to be more and more partnerships between banks and Fintechs.

“Firstly, because the banks are realising that it’s a good way of accelerating growth and keeping customers engaged,” says Ian. “And secondly, because Fintechs are realising that it’s a good way of distributing their products into the SME community.”

I see collaborations like this as a natural evolution for Fintechs. There are many different ways for Fintechs to scale but I believe that partnership is the most prudent. For us, it’s about being able to scale and, in doing so, change the face of business finance in the UK.

Anil Stocker, CEO & Co-founder, MarketInvoice