Interview with VP, Mobile & Digital Financial Services, CreditPilot – Felix Polianski

FTB News DeskJanuary 15, 202018 min
Felix Polianski VP, Mobile & Digital Financial Services, CreditPilot

Felix Polianski is a Vice President for Mobile & Digital Financial Services. He is a BFSI professional with 25 years of experience in Banking (correspondent banking and FT, remote service delivery, internet marketing) and Risk Insurance (IT, implementation and change management, direct sales and underwriting, policy admistration and claims, mocro-insurance). For over 7 years – delivers B2B2C fin-tech solutions to the market.

1. Tell us about your role in CreditPilot?
My name is Felix Polianski, I’m a Vice President for Mobile and Digital Financial Services; I’m in charge of sales and development of solutions for what we internally call “pervasive” financial services. Our goal is to make financial services available to all people, regardless of their location or income, in places where people already are – in their favorite stores, on their preferred mobile network, social network – anywhere. It is about bringing banking to places where people already are.

2. Can you tell us about your journey into this market?
I have worked for more than 25 years in traditional banking, and Risk Insurance. For the last 8-10 years I have been involved in fintech, too. It just so happened that I had an honor to be a part of projects based on the rather obvious idea of mobile telephony and financial services convergence.

3. How has digitalization eased the process of payment systems?
If you ask me what is the most important thing about the digitalization, my answer is very clear: going digital means that more people will have credit histories. It is a chance to jumpstart their lives or their children’s’ lives by starting a business or getting better education, to finally have a chance to get out of poverty using resources that wouldn’t be available to them otherwise.

Nevertheless, our industry should be well aware that there are millions of people who still depend on cash in their everyday lives, and that may be left behind if the progress towards the cashless society is too rapid. To name a few, these are senior citizens, low-income people, people who didn’t have access to formal education, women in traditional societies, people with physical and mental difficulties or disabilities, immigrants and many others.

4. What are your predictions about the future of banking?
It is a common place now what Bill Gates once said: “People need banking, not banks,” but this is where the world is now heading. Banks will not disappear though, because they are too important for any economy to be left without society’s control (hence, the regulation of banking and finance, which will remain in place for the foreseeable future). This being said, mobile operators, retailers and wholesalers, and other businesses that enjoy the trust and proximity to the person will take over a large portion of the functions that banks once had.

5. How will your partnership with Tata communications benefit your customers?
The partnership will rather benefit Tata Communications’ customers – the mobile operators, and their clients – the users of mobile telephony. Since Tata Communications is a renowned supplier of operating platforms for mobile operators, both traditional and virtual, our plan is to integrate our financial services logic with that platform. Thus, mobile operators who use Tata Communications’ platform will become able to quickly deploy mobile financial services. Such a move may lead to up to 30 percent better customer retention rates for these operators. In the end, we will be fostering financial inclusion for mobile operators’ subscribers across the world, while helping mobile operators to be more profitable.

6. How do you differentiate your digital banking platform from others?
A2A, our digital and mobile financial services platform, is specifically designed to work in a real-world environment. It allows people to bank not just without going to a branch, but rather without thinking about a bank. Paying for things, sending money to family, paying bills, lending and getting paid – while living one’s life, while using one’s mobile phone, doing weekly shopping, that’s the idea. Most banks do not go beyond creating an app – while we are able to offer financial services access without data coverage, and with zero credit on the phone.

7. What advice would you like to give to the Startups?

Ideas are overrated, and good financial planning is underrated. A well-thought Excel worksheet sometimes brings much more to the game, than a seemingly brilliant, but unfounded idea.

Not just to attract investments, but to decide if an idea is worth the time of your life spent implementing it. Learn financial planning and critical thinking, question everything and, first of all, yourself.

8. Which Startup technology has grabbed your attention?
I am a big fan of what m-PESA accomplished in Kenya. It is not a startup anymore, but when it was, they followed the people-centric approach that we adhere to. We are inspired by the work that Melinda and Bill Gates foundation does, and their support of project.

9. How do you prepare for a Technology-centric world?
We don’t want people to prepare for a technology-centered world, we want technology to become people-centric. What CreditPilot, just as most successful technology companies, is working towards is a people-centric world. Technology is a great equalizer: it only makes sense if it helps people of all incomes and backgrounds to enjoy services that help them live better and more happily, to have time and resources for what really matters to them.

10. Can you tell us about your team and how it supports you?
Our team is distributed across the globe. I mostly work from Riga and Frankfurt and travel quite a lot. My colleagues are spread from Spain to Hong Kong, they are a wonderful bunch of people belonging to many of different cultures. It may sound trite, but apart from being a great lot of formidable professionals, we at CreditPilot help one another by just being ourselves – the unique life experiences of every one of us, and the wisdom of our diverse cultures are an important ingredient of our processes.

11. What are the major developments you are planning, in recent time?
We are working on our financial services platform’s deployment in one country in Southeastern Asia, together with a local mobile operator. It will be CreditPilot’s first deployment in the region, and this deal means a lot to us – even though it is just a small step. We feel that having a «beach head» in Southeastern Asia will allow us to help open the digital economy for everybody there, and do our bit in fighting inequality and the digital divide. We can’t really share more details right now.

12. Which Book are you reading these days?
I don’t really have a lot of time for books these days, but when I do read, I prefer classic literature and philosophy to business best-sellers of the day. Every now and then, there’s another buzzword or fad, and we’ve seen a lot of them come and go – in most cases there’s no point in even trying to remember it. Human nature, human aspirations stay the same, and it is especially true in an industry as old as finance.

13. We have heard that you have a very joyful work culture, we won’t mind having a look at some of the pictures? Can you share a couple of videos of your team having fun?
Such pictures would not convey the essence of our work culture, even though sometimes we get together and have fun – just like any other group of like-minded people who enjoy working together. But, being a finance-related organization, we think that being serious and responsible comes first and foremost for companies like ours. Our customers expect us to be stable, predictable, knowledgeable, even boring if you will – they trust our technology to handle their money, after all. So, no, our work culture is not joyful – and we’re not ashamed to say so. Or rather, the joy and fun that we have at work are different than you probably imply. It is entrepreneurial, irreverent, with a tendency to question things – the joy here is more one of a scientist or an explorer. To prove (or disprove) a hypothesis, to get where no one ventured before – this is kind of fun we have at work, and no pictures or videos can properly convey it.

FTB News Desk

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