Dec 11, 2023

Vladislavs Boroviks: From Economist to Fintech CEO

Continuous learning and enduring impact, in conversation with a fintech changemaker on life, work and the power of trust.

Vladislavs Boroviks: From Economist to Fintech CEO

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With an impressive 18-year career, Vladislavs Boroviks, the CEO of Bedford Pay and co-founder of JooL Pay, has navigated a dynamic trajectory from his roots as an economist in Latvia's food industry to a prominent role at SEB bank in Sweden, simultaneously pioneering an online store. Blending a sophisticated academic background (he holds a Master's in Finance from Moscow State University) and a passion for innovation, Vladislavs actively participates in conferences and has left a mark by contributing to the establishment of three licensed financial companies globally.

At the heart of his leadership philosophy lies a commitment to building teams grounded in trust and respect. This week we speak with Vladislavs about his rich career, the importance of being a lifelong learner and more…

Can you describe your journey from a background in IT to your current role as the CEO of Bedford Pay and co-founder of JooL Pay? What motivated you to make this transition?

It was an organic transition inspired by my passion for both areas. With a background in IT, I was always drawn to the intersection of technology and finance. After obtaining my Master's in Finance and experience working in highstreet banks, I saw the immense potential in fintech and decided to transition. The motivation behind this shift was the ever-evolving nature of the industry and the desire to contribute to its growth. I wanted to create innovative solutions that could make financial services more accessible and efficient for people. I realized the immense potential technology held in reshaping financial landscapes, leading me to CEO position at Bedford Pay and eventually co-found JooL Pay.

With a solid academic foundation in both IT and Finance, how do you believe your technical and financial expertise have complemented each other in your career?

The combination of technical and financial expertise has been a valuable asset throughout my career. My IT background has enabled me to understand and harness the power of cutting-edge technologies to develop financial products and solutions, as well as equipped me with problem-solving and analytical skills. On the other hand, background in finance equipped me with a comprehensive understanding of the economic principles driving the industry, which allowed me to bridge the gap between traditional financial systems and emerging digital technologies, creating a perfect synergy in my current career path.

You've worked in various roles, including as an economist, in the food industry, and in banking at SEB bank in Sweden. How have these diverse experiences shaped your approach to fintech?

Each of these experiences has played a unique role in shaping my approach to fintech. As an economist in the food industry, I learned the importance of effective resource management and the value of innovation in established industries. Working at SEB bank in Sweden provided me with a deep understanding of the banking sector and regulatory frameworks, as well as broadened my insights into customer behavior and risk management. These diverse experiences have given me a well-rounded perspective that I've applied in fintech to address real-world challenges and opportunities.

Could you share some key insights or lessons learned from your experience in raising funds for JooL Pay and contributing to multiple companies in different countries?

Essentially, it has taught me the importance of building strong networks and relationships. It's crucial to understand the local markets, regulatory environments, and the unique needs of customers in each country. Adaptability and a keen understanding of investor expectations are also essential when raising funds. Building trust and credibility with investors, as well as demonstrating a clear and scalable business model, have been key factors in our fundraising success. Nonetheless, I see the very strong upcoming trend - the importance of visibility and the brand. As Jonah Sachs put it, ‘Your brand is a story unfolding across all customer touch points,’ and by observing the dynamic and highly competitive fintech industry for almost two decades now, I would strongly recommend not to underestimate the power of good branding and stakeholder relationship management. It can go a long way even if the product itself is still undergoing the development process. Just like in personal life, business obtains a very human face, invest in your network and it will pay you off.

You're known for actively participating in conferences. Can you highlight some key takeaways or trends you've observed in the fintech industry from these conferences?

Conferences have been a great source of industry insights. Lately I've observed several key trends in the fintech sector. One notable trend is the growing importance of digital identity and security solutions - regtech is on the rise and with growing financial fraud risks i would advise financial market players to take advantage of new powerful fraud prevention solutions, especially with the rise in online transactions. Another is the rapid adoption of blockchain and cryptocurrencies, which are reshaping financial services. Also, sustainability and ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) considerations are becoming central in fintech, aligning with broader global sustainability goals. Nonetheless, I see how within the industry companies now are less interested in big viral conferences, prioritizing smaller but very focused niche events instead. Once again - it all comes down to establishing meaningful connections with dedicated people to reach the very specific goal. Clarity led success.

You've helped establish three licensed financial companies. What were the most significant challenges you faced in these endeavors, and how did you overcome them?

Establishing financial companies is a complex process, and each venture came with its set of challenges. The initial fintech company I engaged with was QR PAY, which obtained a license in Latvia around 2013-14, closely following the adoption of the EU directive for small payment companies. Regulatory compliance and obtaining licenses are always time-consuming and require meticulous attention to detail. I am happy to see that in Latvia, for example, regulatory authorities are undergoing the process of modernisation and now relationship management is a two-way street where both parties are expressing interest in collaboration and partnership. Another important aspect is the ability to effectively detect and manage risks, building trust with customers and acquiring talents. Overcoming these obstacles involved dedication, continuous learning, and maintaining a focus on transparency and customer facing approach.

Your leadership ethos emphasizes building teams grounded in trust and respect. Can you provide examples of how you've fostered these qualities within your teams, and how they contributed to your companies' success?

Trust and respect are at the core of my leadership philosophy. I prioritize open communication, encourage diverse perspectives, and ensure that every team member's input is valued. This approach creates an environment where team members feel empowered and motivated to take responsibility, allowing for more creativity, and courage. In my experience, this leads to increased collaboration, innovation, and overall team satisfaction, which, in turn, translates into better results for the company. I find it the most challenging to gather together the right people - especially at the early stage of startup, when it is essential to find people who would be willing to go an extra mile with you.

Consider CTO Edgars as an example. His professional landscape is defined by the foundation of trust and respect, which leads to a reduction in workplace stress and an increase in work flexibility. In the context of the IT domain, where tight deadlines are commonplace, effective time management is of paramount importance. Even before the advent of the COVID-19 era, Edgars enjoyed the freedom to choose between working from home or the office, empowering him with an added layer of flexibility in time management.

Looking ahead, what do you envision as the most promising opportunities or trends in the fintech industry, and how do you plan to contribute to its evolution?

The fintech industry continues to evolve rapidly, and I am sure 2024 will bring a lot to the table. One is the continued expansion of digital banking and the democratization of financial services - easy to use accessible “one-click-away” solutions will push anything not as customer-centered. This is also why I see a great potential for JoolPay, which allows customers to pay tips without cash just via scanning the QR code and choosing the desired amount using Google Pay, Apple Pay or a connected bank card.

I also see great potential in the integration of AI and machine learning to enhance customer experiences and risk management. Additionally, I believe that blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies will play a significant role in reshaping the financial landscape. As for my contribution, I plan to stay at the forefront of these developments, leveraging my experience and network to drive innovation and create solutions that benefit consumers and businesses.

Can you share a specific project or initiative that you're particularly proud of in your career and walk us through the key milestones and outcomes?

​​One project I'm particularly proud of is the establishment of Bedford Pay. The key milestones included building a strong team and navigating the complex regulatory landscape in the UK market. We developed a unique online payment system, which allows SWIFT payments in over 100 currencies to almost any country! It is designed to allow customers to securely manage money on the go, smart and easy - from getting a unique IBAN number to receiving SWIFT, SEPA and GBP payments seamlessly. This is a borderless and bold project, which I am happy to see grow and blossom.

What's your one guiding principle in both life and work?

My guiding principle is to never stop learning. Whether in life or work, continuous learning has been the cornerstone of my success. It enables me to adapt to new challenges, stay ahead of industry trends, and evolve as a leader and, what is more important - as a father to my children. I believe that learning is a lifelong journey, and it's essential to embrace it with enthusiasm and curiosity, while remaining a human in this technology driven world.

Images courtesy of: Vladislavs Boroviks

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