Edinburgh fintech with half a million users in sight
For a fintech company that launched last October, the rate of growth has already been nothing short of astonishing for Edinburgh-headquartered Zumo. The firm has amassed 65,000 users and is on track for half a million by the end of 2022.
Key to the success of founders Nick Jones and Paul Roach was spotting the need to create easier access to cryptocurrency markets, by building a user-friendly app that simplifies buying and exchanging Bitcoin for sterling.
“At the moment we are the simplest and most secure way to buy, sell, send and spend crypto. We wanted to build a product that enables ordinary people to easily access that world and to be able to transition very easily between the two: crypto and real-world banking,” said Jones.
“If you’re 18, you’re almost certainly never going to have a savings account with a retail bank. This is a really positive way for people to build wealth outside of the traditional system,” Jones added, highlighting the cost of living and lack of affordability of housing for young people as a key motivator. He tracks the appetite for fintech products and services back to the credit crunch of 2008, when people first started to look for new ways of investing as a result of a breakdown of trust for traditional financial markets.
Zumo – which Jones says is a trusted and secure platform, as it is completely decentralised – also licenses its technology for use by business and has taken steps to get its product into the African sub-continent, where there has been a surge in demand for neo-bank-based financial services. It also has an EU rollout on the horizon.
Jones, who studied at university in Glasgow, said the company’s goal is become a crypto-based alternative to savings and lending and build a “significant” business in Scotland along the lines of breakout British fintechs Revolut, Monzo and Starling. He says there is every opportunity to do that with estimates now pointing to between eight and 10 per cent of people having exposure to crypto markets compared to two per cent just a few years ago.
But could it just be another bubble, waiting to burst? Jones doesn’t think so. “I don’t think it will happen. We’ve seen the Chinese government ban Bitcoin a few years ago for the fifth or sixth time and the price went down less than 3 per cent, so it’s pretty resilient. We’re now talking about over a trillion dollars in crypto overall; it’s hugely well capitalised and a lot of very big institutions have a lot of money in Bitcoin.”
He adds: “The scenario of Bitcoin to zero seems pretty unlikely and I think what we will see on that note is that there are a couple of hundred different blockchains and many hundreds of different crypto coins, many of which have no intrinsic value. So, there will be a cull, there will be a rationalisation, there’ll be better blockchains coming through. We’re still very early, we’re 10 years into the piece. The scenario where Bitcoin is outlawed, I think we’re passed that point, the horse has bolted. It would be very difficult at this point to try and put it back in the stable.”
The business has an office in Leith in Edinburgh, but its 36 staff largely work remotely – a setup that existed before the impact of Covid – with 17 based in the capital, 13 remotely and six in Ljubljana in Slovenia. Jones says: “We’re a very decentralised team and we working in that way anyway; Covid has given us the chance to hire people in places like London who would not have thought of working for a company based in Edinburgh before. It’s been a pretty strong opportunity for us to hire, particularly software engineers.”
Please mind the gap… or healthcare may fall
Imagine sharing a lengthy train journey with others. From beginning to end, imagine how often you might hear ‘mind the gap’ messages about embarking and disembarking safely. Picture how navigating…
Women Lead: My journey from Dragons’ Den to Silicon Valley
Following her appearance on Dragons’ Den, Sheila Hogan, serial entrepreneur, founder and chief executive of digital legacy vault, Biscuit Tin, shares her experience of her time in the Den and…
Look anywhere – the future is ‘aged tech’. But Scotland needs to be more adventurous
Scottish Care, as the representative body of independent social care providers of care home, care at home and housing support services, has been working over several years with colleagues in…
Women Lead: Engineer turned entrepreneur
We are always fascinated by other people’s stories. It’s how we connect, grow and learn from each other. Until very recently I always felt like I didn’t have a story to tell. Who…
‘Women – together we will change the dynamic in tech’
I was inspired to start a career in technology when personal computers were in their infancy and the internet decades away. My childhood dream of becoming a scientist was shaped by…
It’s time to change the future of tech apprenticeships – and we need your help
In his latest exclusive column for Futurescot, Ross Tuffee, chair of the Skills Development Scotland (SDS) Digital Economy Skills Group, calls on tech employers to get involved in shaping the…
What AI difference a year makes
Amazingly, it’s been one year since the publication of Scotland’s AI Strategy. And what a year it has been. Demanding but rewarding, with good progress made and great foundations laid…
International Women’s Day: It’s time to harness power of women in technology
As we celebrate International Women’s Day, I hope to be part of a future where barriers that prevent women from competing on a level playing field in the work environment…