At Bonova Advisory we interview C-suites , Thought leaders and Influencers in Banking and Finance.I had the pleasure of interviewing Bülent Tekmen, co-founder of Colendi.
Bülent previously led Netron Technology’s Turkish offices for about a decade before stepping into the startup world with various projects. His most successful company before Colendi was Ininal, where he created a unique product for the local market and made a successful exit with 3 million users that mostly served the unbanked population. He has received numerous awards for his accomplishments and is a very well respected leader in the fintech sector.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”?
I am a serial entrepreneur, currently the co-founder and CEO of Colendi. My prior e-money company Ininial reached more than 2 million accounts, and 1 million active digital wallet users monthly — and is still growing fast. Cheque-Dejeuner Group acquired a majority stake in Ininal in May 2016, which was one of the biggest deals in the Turkish startup ecosystem.
I have worked for years to transform the banking industry and the microcredit and credibility worlds more broadly. I’m also an active angel investor, frequently backing early-stage startups. I previously was chosen “Internet Entrepreneur of the Year” in Turkey and was an EY Entrepreneur Of The Year — Accelerating Entrepreneurs program in Monte Carlo
What do you think makes your company stand out during these disruptive times? Can you share a story?
You can’t stop the continued disruption of technology. With disruptive thinking, innovative new concepts, ideas and products power the cycle of new products replacing others in the market. The most important thing a company or product should do in these disruptive times is actually fit the market it’s operating in and address the audience in a correct way. This sounds somewhat straightforward, but it’s an often-overlooked element when thinking big. However good and technologically advanced a product is, it’s doomed if it does not fit the current market situation. I can now say this because I’ve seen it happen before. With Colendi, we are providing an alternative way for consumers to get a credit score and a new way for businesses and financial institutions to evaluate consumers, which to date has been determined by a few dominate players that aren’t known for their transparency. Using what many call the most disruptive technologies since the Internet — blockchain and AI — Colendi is using modern data sources combined with modern technology to open financial doors for consumers that never had them and decentralizing the scoring mechanism that affects us all. Under the premise I just stated, Colendi fits the current market situation — a need for an alternative credibility system — and addresses an audience, that being consumers left behind or completely out of the global financial system. When you bring the latest developments and concepts together to fit the market needs, you are bound to succeed.
Can you share what you believe will be the “Top 5 Fintech and Banking Trends Over The Next 3 Years” (Please share a story or example for each.)
- Blockchain will enable financial institutions to serve the 2+ billion people worldwide that are un/underbanked. Oftentimes these marginalized populations are only able to buy what they can afford in cash, which seems unreasonable to the rest of us who borrow and use credit from smaller transactions like electronics to large ones like a house. The main reason is because the un/underbanked are supposedly too risky without an established, traditional credit history. I’d argue that many are probably more credible than a lot of very rich people. The problem is that traditional financial institutions have used antiquated datasets and formulas to determine risk, which has excluded around 20 percent of the global population. Imagine the economic fuel that 20 percent more consumers could bring to the global economy. Blockchain technology provides unprecedented security, reliability and transparency which will allow certain financial institutions to extend financial options — even if they are small to being with — in the next three years.
- Blockchain will provide an alternative to traditional credit scoring, disrupting the traditional credit bureau oligarchy. Currently, only a few big credit-scoring firms calculate scores to determine your credibility, which essentially governs your entire financial life. These credit bureaus are not known for their transparency and at the same time haven’t always been good stewards of our data. Blockchain, especially when combined with artificial intelligence, can analyze different kinds of data, like from smartphones and social media, to determine how much risk an individual presents when lending to them. For instance, blockchain could allow retailers to determine microcredit opportunities to their customers at the point of sale almost instantaneously, without having to check a credit bureau. Blockchain-based credit scoring has the advantage of transparency with security, which would be great for consumers and businesses alike.
- SOURCE OF TRUST, MATH PROVED: Blockchain will change the way any personal data is handled, including financial and transactional data. The source of truth will be completely changed with the introduction of blockchain to existing or new procedures. When we say a new source of trust, we are talking about mathematically-proven protocols that will be totally decentralized, cannot be altered and — in some cases — completely open-sourced. People that have problems with the centralized systems of today will see more data privacy and a more just system for everyone tomorrow.
- Peer-to-peer (P2P) transaction growth: Blockchain will enable P2P transactions with decentralized protocols. Today, middlemen occupy some really important positions all over the banking, finance and commerce sectors, but not because they add any value. We all know that the quickest and most efficient way to get from point A to point B is a straight, uninterrupted line; but in the past, we’ve needed another point along the transactional continuum to validate and/or facilitate our transactions. Why is that needed now? If we can provide and ensure the same — if not greater — value with blockchain technology, then the middlemen’s regulatory and practical advantages will disappear, along with them.
- The definition of banking will change, rendering some parts of it obsolete: The definition of banking will completely change. Banking may be necessary instrument for the financial system, but with more blockchain applications, many banking methodologies, systems and procedures that we see today will experience significant disruption. Consider Alipay, which can process as much as $760 million in payments.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”?
“The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.” — Albert Einstein
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.
I would want to create a complete decentralization movement — total decentralization in the world. A world of total transparency, total openness and where the decentralization itself becomes new source of trust.
Originally published at medium.com