The New Faces of Fintech — Featuring Tamsey

While we may not know exactly how fintech will impact our future, we have an idea as to who will be leading the charge. In the next installments of our ongoing blog series, “The New Faces of FinTech”, we will spotlight some of the emerging leaders in the fintech world to get their thoughts on what the future of the industry will look like.

Their origin stories are different, their paths to entrepreneurship are unique, but their impacts on their respective industries are significant. No one truly knows what the future of fintech holds, but these industry leaders may have an inkling as to what we can expect.

Our next guest is Grishka Bonlong, Founder and CEO of London-based Tamsey. Tamsey is creating innovative solutions that will transform how payments are made globally. The Tamsey team is enabling low-cost international money transfers and payments that are also fast, safe, and secure for both individuals and businesses.

Grishka Bonlong is Founder and CEO of London-based Tamsey. Tamsey is creating innovative solutions that will transform how payments are made globally.

Grishka, tell us a little bit about your background. What were you working on before founding this company?

After obtaining my Engineering degree, I spent the next decade in banking during which I qualified as an accountant. I started my career in systems management and reporting, but then evolved into finance, risk management, and later treasury management.

Tell us a bit about your company? What’s the problem you’re solving?

Tamsey is a cross-border payment solution that specialises in solving two problems: (1) simplifying the process for individuals to send money home to their loved ones; and (2) reducing bottlenecks for businesses who pay salaries and suppliers abroad. The undergoing next phase of our evolution is focused on the African market, where our solution will significantly reduce the number of adults without access to formal banking services.

We are reducing the cost of doing business internationally while increasing the percentage of adults with access to digital financial services in Africa. According to the World Bank’s Global Findex Database, only 55% of adults in Sub Saharan African have access to digital financial services, which is substantially lower than the global average of 76%.”

What’s the origin story behind your company? How and why did you come up with the idea? 

Being born and having lived in Africa has enabled me to experience how lack of access to reliable and convenient financial services can hinder economic prosperity. Tamsey was born out of the deep desire to contribute to the global democratisation of finance that has been enabled by technology.

Tamsey means “Together”, because we want to enable people to remain connected to what’s important to them, no matter where they are in the world. More importantly, we were motivated by contributing our efforts to the huge challenge of increasing financial inclusion in Africa. That is the reason why we started in remittance to get a detailed understanding of the global payment landscape, learning from what has worked and failed in other continents, to design practical solutions that sustainably democratise access to financial services in Africa.

What milestones has your company achieved so far?

We have registered more than five thousand users on our platform after having obtained licenses in the UK and Canada from the FCA and FINTRAC respectively. We have built a payment network that spans four continents. Our Tamsey For Business solution facilitates bulk payments to hundreds of recipients in just a few clicks. We are present in more than fifty countries in Africa, four countries in Asia. We have begun the pilot phase of our neobanking solution aimed at the African market.

Can you describe what it’s been like to be part of the Fintech Sandbox community?

Being part of the Fintech Sandbox community has been extremely rewarding first from a personal point of view because participating at events has enabled me to meet extremely talented and resourceful people that I continue to learn from. Access to timely and quality data is extremely important, especially due to the volatile nature of some fintech markets. I was able to connect with a Data Partner to discuss a potential partnership to access more accurate currency exchange rate data.

What’s next for your company?

In June 2023, McKinsey & Company published an economic research paper predicting that by 2050 Africa would add 796 million people to the global workforce and be home to the world’s largest and youngest population. Our existing payment network will help these workers receive their salaries on time regardless of where the employer is in the world. We are building a merchant payment solution that will make it easier for the rising African middle class to transact, consume, and travel.

What is some of the best advice you’ve received as a startup founder?

It doesn’t matter how many times you fall. The point is to get back up and keep going.

What fintech trends are you most excited about right now?

I’m very excited about the AI enabled liveness detection solution. They help reduce the cost of keeping the financial system safe, which is very positive.

What’s the most interesting thing you’ve read recently?

“Le Meilleur Médicamment, C’est Vous!” by Dr Frédéric Saldmann.

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We’re thrilled to feature some of the incredible entrepreneurs who are participating in our Data Access Residency. If you are aware of any fintech entrepreneurs with an early stage company who could benefit from free access to data, cloud hosting, and a supportive community, please have them visit our website to learn more.

The Fintech 5 with Elizabeth Thomas – Program Director for Mass. Fintech Hub

The Fintech 5 is a series of blog posts consisting of questions and answers designed to help you get to know the people behind Fintech Sandbox and our Data Access Residency better.

Mass Fintech Hub is a public-private partnership comprising a network of fintech leaders, financial experts, academics, public sector leaders and venture capitalists who empower Massachusetts fintech startups to achieve success. It is an initiative under the Fintech Sandbox umbrella. Elizabeth Thomas joined as Program Director in 2022. Before this she worked in economic development with a focus helping fintech and tech companies scale internationally.

Elizabeth Thomas, Mass Fintech Hub Program Director

Question #1: What is your role with Fintech Sandbox?

Mass Fintech Hub Program Director.

#2: What fintech problem/solution are you focused on or most interested in?

My fintech passion is fintech as a solution for improving consumer financial health. I am thrilled when I learn about a solution tackling common problems such as financial literacy, consumer debt reduction, and credit building from a completely new angle.

In January, I will lead a virtual workshop introducing fintech as a vehicle for improved financial health as part of the Massachusetts Office of Economic Empowerment’s Worth & Wealth Seminars. You can learn more about the workshop here.

#3: What trends in fintech are you most excited about?

I am excited about the increasing fintech adoption and acceleration across industries. What was once a niche vertical is becoming a horizontal category. To quote Fintech Sandbox founder Sarah Biller, “Every company is becoming a fintech company”.

In the last few years, we saw new entrants into fintech from tech giants like Amazon and Google. Now we are seeing embedded finance solutions increasing across industries and platforms. More fintech opportunities will continue to reduce friction, time, and costs and increase benefits for the consumer.

#4: If you could change one thing about the fintech ecosystem, what would it be and why?

Our work at the Mass Fintech Hub is focused on accelerating the Massachusetts fintech ecosystem. We are working to unlock capital for new startups, increase corporate-startup collaboration, increase talent in the ecosystem, and enhance the visibility of the great things already going on in our ecosystem.

If I were to pick one thing to change, it would be to continue to increase opportunities for connections across the ecosystem in support of these goals. In November we released an Ecosystem Reassessment report in partnership with Mass Tech Collaborative authored by KPMG that surveyed the ecosystem to help us find ways to do just that. You can join our growing community and learn how to get involved here.

#5: Hot take! What are your thoughts on AI in the industry? Are we about to see a major transformation beyond chatbots? Is fintech the key to unlocking AI at scale for financial services?

At Fintech Sandbox we interview up to 6 fintech startups a week for the Data Access Residency program. In the last year, the number of startups we have seen with AI tools increasing efficiency, supporting decision-making and customer interaction in financial services has increased exponentially. We have a ways to go, but we are certainly on the brink of an exciting change in the industry.

Bonus Question! What’s the most interesting thing you’ve read recently? 

I’m currently reading the Four Agreements, based on ancient Toltec wisdom and philosophy. My sister had recommended it and in an exciting coincidence,  I subsequently came across it in a little free library stand around the corner from my house. Was it fate?  I find it intriguing to learn how different cultures deal with common philosophical questions about how to live a happy and fulfilled life. And I love the metaphor introduced in the book of every person existing in their own dream that they have the power to change through simple actions.

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If you are a fintech entrepreneur with an early-stage company and you could benefit from free access to data, cloud hosting, and a supportive community, please visit our website to learn more!