Get to know our customer — ANNA Money

We sat down to talk to Boris Dyakonov, Co-founder of ANNA Money, about the company’s journey so far, what their biggest challenges have been, and his ideas about the fintech industry’s future.

Boris Dyakonov

Why did you set up ANNA Money?

All of us in creating ANNA Money had done SME types of business admin and banking businesses in other countries. It led us to realise that UK entrepreneurs are severely under-served, and that it was a great place and a great opportunity to create value.

Who exactly is your audience?

We have all kinds of businesses from all the UK, different types and backgrounds, such as entrepreneurs and sole traders.

Can you share any stumbling blocks that were experienced in the early days?

We had several things, including not realising how many nuances there might be! It’s not that we never understood the banking technology and how payments work but the nuances of doing business and how to find the first clients, the distribution bit, that was all hard work. But that is all luckily in the past, we figured this out and obviously it is great that we have a truly international team to tackle these challenges at the beginning. It brings all the perspectives and different stories and backgrounds together to overcome these challenges.

What are the things you are most proud of in your company’s journey?

One part of me thinks I should list our awards! But in reality what I am really proud of is that most of our clients don’t have another account with any other banking institution. They rely solely on ANNA for their business needs. When we ask them ‘okay if ANNA would be shut down, how would you feel about that’ and most of them would say well ‘horrible because I’m really accustomed to it and I don’t have a replacement’ that is something to be proud of. Because at the end of the day it’s all about the clients. As a company we are successful only if the clients are.

Looking outside of ANNA now, how do you see your industry developing in the coming years?

There is a general trend then there is a COVID trend. The general trend is the same as we have seen in retail: the competition would be getting tougher and the clients will be more demanding. Let’s say five years from now, all the high street banks are going to have a proper solution. Their support might not be there, their language would still be outdated but in general their digital banking as a whole is going to get there. But I think COVID adds to adoption more than anybody expected. In that sense the general anticipation that a service needs to be available digitally is just becoming a fundamental basis of clients expectations. I think the long term is going to be more about value proposition and about added value things — by this added value I mean something in addition to banking, something in parallel to banking and in that sense ANNA Money does just that.

We are in a very volatile position at the time of this interview with the COVID-19 global pandemic. Can you share any survival tips for businesses?

First of all, we were lucky that we were a widely distributed company to start with. We have some people working in Spain, in Eastern Europe, in Israel, a lot of people in the UK. We were accustomed to synchronising ditally and really making things transparent, so we haven’t had that tough of a transition, luckily. And I would say that the challenge of this time, which depends from business to business because obviously they are very different but the challenge is at the same time I think it would be prudent to have several plans. First plan would be a plan for further lockdowns. The second plan is for when things begin to open, but everybody will have less clients and less money. The third plan should be around if demand spring backs — what if there is a way to grow crazily in my particular sector? And the challenge is to implement all three simultaneously.

And finally, what do you see as the future of fintech?

There will be no true innovations in the area — banks were really old, outdated. Banks used to require a pile of documents and scrutiny to open an account, and now we can open an account in five minutes with a higher quality of knowledge about our client. But that’s not innovation, that’s just plain common sense technology and thinking up new approaches to replace existing traditions. It’s about being friendly to the client and using the technology at the same time. What I think is an opportunity, though, is the change in people and how they interact with their bank payments, that will be the true revolution.

I don’t think change is going to come from the industry. Historically they don’t come from the industry. It’s usually something spilling over from another industry.

We also talked to ANNA Money about their experience migrating to Railsbank. Watch the full video below.

Head to the ANNA Money website for more information on their product.

Go to the Railsbank website to learn how we can help any bank, business or brand rapidly become a fintech.