The operations chief talks plans for the longer term, enlargement and what it’s prefer to work in a male-dominated trade.
Picture supply: Curve’s COO Nathalie Oestmann
Nathalie Oestmann doesn’t like to explain herself as a finance trade veteran— however it’s laborious to shrink back from the truth that Curve’s chief operations officer is likely one of the few that may say they’ve actually been right here from the beginning.
Oestmann spent 15 years at American Specific within the US, Europe and the UK in a wide range of roles, then went on to go up operations at Samsung Pay, which put her proper the place she needed to be—on the coronary heart of fintech.
But it surely was Curve’s Shachar Bialick, who pursued Oestmann for over two years, that lastly drew the exec away from established fintech corporations and into the world of startups and scaleups.
AltFi caught up with Nathalie final Friday to debate all issues fintech and the most recent developments at Curve, the all-your-cards-in-one fintech.
The beginning of fintech
Oestmann smiles as she fondly remembers assembly a younger and bold Tom Blomfield who approached her asking so as to add Monzo to the Samsung Pay Pockets, at a time when Monzo didn’t even have an Android app.
Blomfield returned a few weeks later, this time, with an app: “And that is once I actually understood, there is a nimbleness right here,” Oestmann tells AltFi.
“I believe that sort of expertise actually caught in my thoughts as a result of this was one thing I hadn’t seen in my earlier incumbent atmosphere, it could take years for us to get it 100% completely proper.”
Oestmann says at that second she recognised fintech was right here to remain, and likewise noticed the one space that hadn’t actually been touched on but: Open Banking.
Disrupting the disruptors
Till Curve was based in 2015, few platforms would allow you to see all of your financial institution playing cards within the one place.
“Folks do not at all times have simply have one financial institution and so they wish to interconnect with all their banks,” Oestmann remarks.
It was Shachar’s idea of Curve that lastly made sense to Oestmann, and, after Curve’s $55m Sequence B funding spherical, she made the bounce into the world of scaleups.
“I scaled up loads at Samsung, however it was an already established enterprise unit. So, that is my first actual scaleup, it’s nice to have the ability to put your stamp on one thing.”
All through her profession, Oestmann admits that regardless of being a part of extra marketing-driven corporations, she at all times discovered herself drawn in direction of the product-oriented and know-how areas.
Wo(males) in fintech
When requested about her experiences within the trade, significantly with sexism, Oestmann has nothing however good issues to say, however she is acutely conscious that it’s not at all times the case.
Oestmann attributes her angle to surrounding herself with “superb individuals, supportive household and supportive mentors, each female and male,” one thing that she admits she was very fortunate to have.
“I most likely am far more agnostic about what intercourse you’re, I actually do not care.”
Curve presently holds occasions geared in direction of creating a cushty atmosphere for individuals, significantly ladies, to debate variety within the fintech trade.
The corporate additionally holds STEM occasions for younger women from various backgrounds who is perhaps excited about coding, Oestmann remarks: “encouragement within the early years is absolutely, actually essential”.
Forward of the Curve?
A 2019 Deloitte examine discovered that lower than 30 per cent of the UK’s fintech workforce is feminine.
Curve is already forward of the “curve” (pun meant) on this space as roughly 40 per cent of its worker base are ladies.
Curve additionally has a number of departments with extra ladies than males, its authorized division is 83 per cent feminine and 17 per cent male, equally, the monetary crime and model communication groups are 67 per cent and 71 per cent feminine respectively.
Regardless of this, Curve’s engineering group is barely 11 per cent feminine, and its product group shouldn’t be far behind at 26 per cent.
Oestmann says to repair this case is to repair the pipeline itself: “We’re creating incentives for workers to feed ladies into our funnel.”
She pressured that on no account does Curve have quotas, however she mentioned: “I do consider in having a funnel that may extra symbolize what the world appears like.”
Getting ladies into fintech and engineering shouldn’t be the one variety query Nathalie has on her thoughts, she needs to make Curve a various place to work in all areas.
Curve staff presently hail from 34 totally different international locations: “I believe the energy of our firm is to be as various as potential, Shachar has constructed a various management group and has a various board.”
What’s across the bend for Curve?
Curve has set its sights on increasing its choices throughout the globe, and at its final fundraise was valued at $250m after a profitable Sequence B spherical.
Lately, the all-your-cards-in-one fintech opened an workplace in Brooklyn and appointed Amanda Orson as its VP head of North America, becoming a member of the ever-growing listing of UK fintechs pursuing US domination.
The London-based fintech can also be pursuing progress elsewhere, Nathalie mentioned: “We’re doubling down on Europe and can be having extra product options popping out imminently for our European prospects.”
Final month Curve kicked off 2020 with the launch of Apple Pay, and the corporate now claims to have over 900,000 customers who’ve signed up and spend greater than £1.2bn by way of their Curve playing cards.