The Innovators — A Conversation with Anna Friedrich, Head of Marketing & Communications at collectAI

“Bringing innovation to traditional industries is connected to great ideas… but turning an idea into an MVP needs workarounds, endurance, adjustments, trial and error. Fall down seven times, get up eight.” — Anna Friedrich

Anna Friedrich, Head of Marketing & Communications at collectAI

What is your current position, and what has your journey there involved in terms of finance/tech experience?

My first contact with financial technology was on the agency side, where I was in charge for the Public Relations unit at a small agency in Hamburg. It was right at the beginning of Fintech’s rise, and it was great to be involved in the development of ideas right from the start — always on the communications side of course.

For a long time I stayed at the agency as a consultant, until I decided to continue my career at Kreditech. What was back at the time a young startup of 50 people is today almost 400 people, backed by renowned investors like J.C. Flowers and Naspers (PayU). I built the communications department from scratch, and was responsible for internal and external comms strategy as well as its realisation. I learnt a lot and grew personally and professionally.

When I met the founders of collectAI, I found the idea amazing and saw the huge market opportunity. With this the brand itself has a huge potential to grow, and I love building up good things. So I took on the challenge to lead their marketing and communications and am very happy to be part of this diverse, multinational and fun tech-driven team.

The collectAI team.

Could you describe what your company offers? What differentiates it, and what has enabled that?

Parts of it are comparable to TrueAccord in the US. However, we are truly convinced of the fact that receivables management need to be thought through all of a piece. So basically we ensure that the digitised services in the areas of e-invoicing and dunning — which of course can be booked on a modular basis — are so good that we successfully happen to reduce the debt collection cases. Why? The last step in the receivables value chain is the most expensive one and also the one where companies lose their customer. Having spent so much in the front-end to acquire this customer (CAC), it is not only a pity to lose her or him but damaging to the business model, impacting revenues and reputation.

What have been the major challenges in the development of that concept?

Are there any technology or regulatory changes on the horizon that excite or concern you?

PSD2, for instance, enables third party providers to access customer accounts from other services — if they authorise it. This has two major advantages: It enables companies to improve their services with focus on the customers. At the same time the end consumer benefits from it as she or he receives custom-tailored products and services. So it clearly fosters innovation and supports the approach of Fintech companies, though of course some in the banking industry do feel threatened. There are many useful articles on the debate out there.

Excerpt from PwC’s ‘Catalyst or threat?’ paper.

GDPR on the other hand does imply a lot of changes for companies processing personal data. Amongst others, it means a higher level of documentation. Of course, this impacts Fintech company’s daily business. The most important thing is that they get prepared now and consult with data protection experts.

In a broader sense, what excites you about the future of financial technology?

Outside of your own market, what startups or founders do you look to for inspiration?

You are granted one wish to change the financial technology industry in 2018 — what do you wish for?

If you could give one piece of advice to the aspiring Fintech folk reading this interview, what would it be?

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The LHoFT drives innovation for Financial Services in Luxembourg, connecting the domestic & international fintech community.

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