3 Questions with Mike Kennedy of OFX Group

FintekNews is pleased to offer our weekly feature column 3 Questions. Each week, we feature a thought leader within a unique sector of fintech and ask them to answer just 3 questions for our audience in their vernacular. This week, we’d like you to meet Mike Kennedy, President/North America of OFX Group Limited, a global provider of online international payment services for consumer and business clients.

NAME: Mike Kennedy
President/North America
WEB ADDRESS: www.ofx.com

What does your firm do/offer within the fintech sector?

OFX is a leading international payments player serving individuals and businesses transfering large dollar amounts across borders. Our combination of streamlined digital experience and expert personal service allows our customers to transact cross border when, where, and how they want. We are an alternative to more expensive banks and less customer-friendly money service businesses (MSBs). Founded 20 years ago, OFX is a stable, profitable, fast growing global fintech.

Clients choose to do business with OFX for three key reasons:

  1. A streamlined digital experience combined with expert personal service let’s our customers transact cross border when, where and how they want. While our business is online only, we have invested heavily in our customer care team, including 24/7/365 native English language phone support. Our combination of “high tech with high touch” has driven outstanding customer loyalty as OFX employees can discuss customer needs in real time, whether it is their first transfer or their fiftieth.
  2. We can provide better rates than traditional financial institutions due to our innovative business model and robust global banking relationships. This is especially important for our core clientele, who regularly transfer large sums as part of their business or lifestyle needs.
  3. A commitment to industry leading regulatory and compliance standards provide a high level of customer comfort. Further, our robust security protocals ensure their money arrives where it is intended as quickly as possible.

How do you feel consumers and businesses are adapting to the facet of fintech that your company operates within?

Cross border transactions are becoming a regular occurrence. The OFX client mix is approximately 55% consumer and 45% business, and we are seeing increased use from both segments.

Customers have a surprisingly wide array of needs when it comes to transferring money across borders. Examples include individuals who may have a vacation home or rental property abroad, a student studying overseas with ongoing money transfer needs, or that collector who finds the object of their affection in another market and wants to pay for it and bring it back home.

We also have a sizable and growing client base in the small and mid-sized business market. Many of these firms import materials and export goods, receiving and making international payments as part of this process. They appreciate our competitive rates and the 24/7 expert support we offer when they want a sounding board for managing currency risk.

A high growth market for us is online sellers. With numerous global marketplaces, such as Amazon, businesses are increasingly able to sell their goods on a global scale. These sellers are typically paid in the currency where the goods are sold, and we can help them effeciently transfer those proceeds back to their home currency and country.

An interesting example that cuts across both consumers and businesses stems from an increasingly global workforce. From Fortune 500 companies to brand new startups, there are now more employees either in, or from, other countries. These employees need an efficient way to move money from the currency of the country they are working in to their home currency for family or to support their lifestyle. We have been able to work directly with these individuals, as well as partner with employers as a benefit to their staff.

As you can see, our service has much broader appeal than one may initially think. Further, we believe more and more businesses and individuals will have cross border payment needs, and the use cases will continue to expand. OFX is well situated to meet these growing needs.

How did you personally become involved in FinTech?

I have been involved in finance and technology for 20 years. Early in my career I worked for McKinsey & Company with a focus on financial services. I thoroughly enjoyed the work, but wanted to be inside a company, implementing our recommended strategies and improving the customer experience. I therefore joined Wells Fargo, focusing on creating a digital experience for their wealth management and private banking customers. After building a new platform and offering I moved within Wells Fargo to running payment innovation, launching new products such as biometric authentication, a digital wallet, and merchant funded rewards.

While in this payments role at Wells Fargo I saw the customer need to launch a person-to-person payments system that people accessed from the security of their bank app and website. I left Wells Fargo and started clearXchange (now Zelle). It was an amazing experience. We were fortunate to be joined by an amazing team, garnered investment and advice from some of the leading financial institutions in America, and partnered with them and others to launch the solution. We grew to processing approximately $50 billion in transactions annually from 25 million registered users because our solution was simple, secure, low cost (free) and fast (real time).

After selling the company I was looking for the next great opportunity and came across OFX. I was excited by the team, the cross border payments space, OFX’s strategy, and our underlying technology. The company has the right focus on delivering a superior solution to meet our target customer’s needs, and has the right team to make that happen. Further, with OFX’s focus on North America as the engine for growth I decided this was the place to be.

Mike Kennedy joined OFX in October 2017 as President, North America.  With 20 years’ Financial Services and Payments experience, Mike is an accomplished executive in both large corporate environments and early stage startups. Most recently, Mike was the co-founder and CEO of the high growth digital payments company, clearXchange – the largest bank focused digital P2P payments network in the USA.