What is Secco
You will be forgiven for not having heard of Secco - we’ve not been around all that long! Secco is the newest, and I believe most disruptive, member of an ever-increasing band of what are fashionably known as ‘Challenger Banks’. Challenger Banks are exactly that, FinTech startups with aspirations to challenge banking head-on as a Bank rather than build services on the periphery of banking. Secco is pre-licenced (so not a bank yet!), we are seeking to be regulated as a UK Bank and myself and the team are based in London. We are currently running a seed investment round.
Why I Founded Secco
Secco was born out of a vision for a future of retail and business banking that is unlike anything existing today. One that unlocks the non-monetary value in people, one that helps us achieve our aspirations, one that is a social experience that connects people with what is important and one that plays to a sharing economy. In essence it was the realisation that money doesn’t make the world go round. Friends, Family, Fun, Life, Love. These are the things that matter — have always mattered.
I believe banking is stuck in a quagmire. It’s not caused by the usual suspects, e.g. lack of innovation activity, skills, investment or regulatory constraints — in fact London is a veritable hive of the aforementioned activities and has one of the most progressive regulators going. I think it’s a mindset thing. Many of us can remember a time before smartphones, a time before the internet, a time when we bought CDs, used paper maps, memorised phone numbers. What we can’t remember is a time before banking — it’s as old as the hills! We therefore take financial constructs as set in stone. Things like loans, savings, mortgages, accounts, balances, ledgers, statements, money, wealth. Most of these things are centuries old! When the internet came along banks simply converted all the paper process into HTML and called it internet banking. When mobiles came along they squashed it up onto a 3 inch screen and called it mobile banking. We’re still doing 20th century banking on 21st century tech. There has not been a proper rethink of the role banking can now play given the emerging technologies and societal trends happening today.
I’ve seen it happen in most other industries. Those CDs we bought were stored in collections at home which we were very proud of. Then along came digital tracks with MP3s and iTunes. Then along came subscription services like Spotify and Apple Music. In the space of 20 years we’ve made the conceptual mind-shift from wanting to physically own music, to digital storing music to just having access to music. No such shift has happened in banking and that’s something I want to change. Before banks existed we still had money, before money existed we still had trade. At Secco we’ve gone back to first principles of what makes a bank a Bank and redesigned from there.
How Secco Is Different
Secco does not look much like a bank. It’s difficult to pigeon-hole us into a FinTech landscape or ecosystem and for me that means we’re doing something right! At the core of Secco is a store of value, the difference being in a digital economy your data can be just as valuable as your money. With data comes identity. With Identity comes reputation and what is more valuable than one’s own reputation — and where will you store/manage it? I believe this should be the role of a bank. What we’re NOT building is a giant database to harvest your information. We want to give people back control over their money and data. At present when you put money in a bank it is lent/invested elsewhere. The same way when you give data to Facebook or Google it is lent/sold elsewhere. The technology exists today to give us individual ownership and control of our money and data and that is what Secco will provide. Right now banking is very much an accountancy activity involving transactions - moving money between piles, updating ledgers, tracking returns/losses. In Secco we’re evolving from transactions to interactions. These could be a data payload or a monetary one. With Secco you can just as readily invest, save or pay with data as you would money!
In markets today a company’s value can be represented as a share price. The share price is not just what is on the company’s balance sheet, its turnover and assets. The share price works in a whole bunch of intangible qualities such as brand, customer loyalty, innovativeness, market volatility etc. It’s weird then that when banks view people their value is still their bank balance, maybe the value of our home and investments. I believe this falls well short of a true articulation of an individual’s value. It’s our knowledge, our skills, our experience, our connections, our education. We have a word for all this - it’s our Reputation and I believe this is a truer representation of value than bank balance.
The infographic above outlines the other core differences between Secco and banks as they exist today. They are each disruptive changes and challenge the very nature of what a bank is right now. To accomplish this we’re going “full stack” meaning the creation of a standalone banking platform rather than a layer on the existing banking rails.
Where We Go From Here
We’re early in this journey. It’s a bold vision and one I believe has real potential to change the world for the better. But we have to start somewhere! We’ve taken the vision and created a framework. From our framework we’ve designed a Minimum Viable Product which is our focus right now along with securing seed investment to accelerate its development and customer proposition testing. If you want to be part of Secco and believe you can help us then do get in touch.
There’s a quote I like, i think it was probably from Steve Jobs. It goes
“the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do”
I don’t think we’re crazy in trying to reinvent banking. I believe banking is far from optimal and a mind-shift is long overdue. The vision is achievable and I’m buidling a team who share the vision and have the ability to execute.