Tom Greenwood’s journey from the picturesque beaches of Australia to the epicenter of London’s fintech scene is a testament to the global nature of entrepreneurship. Raised in Wellington, New Zealand, Tom’s roots in the financial world began at ANZ Bank in Melbourne.
However, it was his move to London in 2002 that set the stage for his entrepreneurial ventures in the fintech space. This article traces Tom’s remarkable career, highlighting key milestones and the invaluable lessons he imparts to aspiring entrepreneurs.
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From Ocean Waves to Fintech Waves
Growing up on the sunny shores of Australia, Tom enjoyed a carefree upbringing, spending weekends and school holidays riding the waves.
His father’s involvement in the computing industry during the Sunrise era of the 1980s fueled Tom’s early exposure to the world of technology. This foundation would later prove instrumental in his fintech ventures.
Tom’s decision to relocate to London in 2002 was driven by a desire to explore the world beyond Australia’s shores. It was a journey initially intended to last a year or two, but two decades later, he finds himself deeply rooted in British soil.
From the outset, Tom’s entrepreneurial spirit and knack for innovation were evident, as he became the founding employee for Europe at an American business called AFEX.
The AFEX Breakthrough: Headhunting as a Strategic Advantage
Tom’s entry into AFEX coincided with a critical juncture in the fintech landscape. Headhunting, a term not as prevalent then as it is today, became a game-changer for Tom and his team.
By strategically acquiring top talent, they not only attracted the best from their competitors but also propelled AFEX to market leadership. This unique approach was a harbinger of Tom’s future successes in the industry.
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IFX: Bridging the Gap between Vision and Execution
Tom’s entrepreneurial spirit surged once more when he embarked on his own venture, IFX (now IFX Payments). In 2005, the term “fintech” had yet to permeate the industry’s lexicon.
Nevertheless, Tom’s focus on foreign exchange (FX) and treasury management paved the way for IFX’s transformation into an e-money institution. This pivot redefined IFX’s business model and set the stage for its continued success.
IFX became one of the first e-money institutions ever to be regulated in Europe. It enabled e-money license holders in Europe to issue payment accounts and bank accounts. Today, it is responsible for a very high proportion of their revenue and payment volume.
The company has a turnover of $10B, serving six to seven countries across Europe and the Middle East. Tom and his co-founders bootstrapped the company and eventually sold it in a rumored deal to be worth over $200M.
Volt: Harmonizing the Future of Payments
Tom’s visionary zeal extended to his latest venture, Volt, which aims to revolutionize real-time payments. His foresight into the potential of real-time payments was catalyzed by the emergence of PSD2.
This led to the development of a groundbreaking platform that harmonizes global real-time account payment systems. The result is a network of networks poised to redefine the way the world transacts.
Tom talks about how he started to think about why payments were being made with archaic instruments that took three to four days and between three and six intermediaries to move the money.
That’s when he ideated a system that could complete transactions within a few seconds, similar to the Unified Payments Interface (UPI) currently being used in India. That’s when he decided to quit IFX to dedicate more time to developing on this idea.
Navigating the World of Venture Capital: Learning Through Adaptation
Tom’s foray into the world of venture capital proved to be both challenging and enlightening. The timing coincided with an oversupply of liquidity in the market, resulting in soaring valuations.
Tom successfully raised $83.5M for Volt, and the company has been recently valued at over $350M for a series B round.
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Despite the market’s volatility, Tom’s steadfast leadership and the collaborative efforts of his co-founders fueled the growth of Volt. The journey underscored the importance of adaptability in navigating the ever-evolving fintech landscape.
Volt now partners with Worldpay Group, one of the largest payment processors in the United States. They also work with Worldline and several other PSPs or technical gateways. Down the line, the system is also adapted to eCommerce platforms like Shopify and WooCommerce.
A Glimpse into the Future: Integrating Stablecoins and CBDCs
Tom’s vision for Volt extends beyond open banking, encompassing the integration of regulated stablecoins and central bank digital currencies (CBDCs).
He acknowledges the transformative potential of these technologies and underscores the importance of adaptability in navigating the evolving fintech landscape.
Words of Wisdom for Aspiring Entrepreneurs
Reflecting on his journey, Tom offers invaluable advice to aspiring entrepreneurs. He emphasizes the importance of simplicity, customer-centricity, and the need to surround oneself with intelligent minds.
With conviction and belief in oneself, Tom encourages entrepreneurs to seize opportunities and make a lasting impact on the fintech industry.
Conclusion: Pioneering the Future of Finance
Tom Greenwood’s journey from Australia to the forefront of the fintech revolution is a testament to his vision, adaptability, and unwavering determination. His ventures, from IFX to Volt, continue to shape the future of payments.
As the fintech landscape continues to evolve, Tom’s legacy stands as an inspiration for entrepreneurs worldwide. His story reminds us that the path to success is marked by bold leaps, strategic innovation, and an unwavering commitment to excellence.
Listen in to the full podcast episode to find out more, including:
- A journey from Australia to London exemplifies the global nature of fintech entrepreneurship.
- Strategic headhunting and talent acquisition were pivotal in establishing market leadership for AFEX.
- IFX’s transformation into an e-money institution marked a turning point in the fintech landscape.
- Volt’s innovative platform harmonizes global real-time account payment systems, driving the future of payments.
- Venture into venture capital navigated challenges, highlighting the importance of adaptability.
- The integration of regulated stablecoins and central bank digital currencies represents the next frontier for Volt.
- Advice for aspiring entrepreneurs emphasizes simplicity, customer-centricity, and unwavering self-belief in pursuit of fintech success.