How PFS set the foundation for the future of prepaid

Prepaid Financial Services Limited (PFS) is an electronic money institution Authorised and Regulated by the FCA. Marie O’Riordan is Senior Marketing Manager.

Inspired by True Events

Picture the following scene in a one-bedroom apartment in London’s Craven Hill. A man who had not been paid in four months by his employer had an idea that would ultimately positively disrupt the prepaid landscape. With a wealth of experience gained from a number of high street financial institutions, Noel Moran had a vision of how to spearhead and grow a business created with ground breaking financial innovation in mind that now employs 175 people. It turned out to be a carefully crafted decision that led him to become a European fintech leader and a 2016 finalist in the Irish EY Entrepreneur of the Year Awards.

A bird’s eye view of PFS’ upward trajectory reveals a progressive timeline of standout achievements. In 2008 into 2009, the seeds were set that would mould the prepaid scene and simplify e-money and payment services for businesses and in turn their customers across the European Economic Area. These plans were hatched at Noel’s white oak kitchen table that has since become a bedrock of the PFS story where foresight, hard work, and an unrivaled passion to succeed have become a reality. Today, the company he started from home, is one of Europe’s largest prepaid issuers. It is a feat that has not gone unnoticed by veterans within the tight-knit financial services industry, particularly those situated in the heart of London.

“I have witnessed major leaps forward in terms of rapid growth in the UK, Ireland, Malta, and the EEA since I became a part of the PFS family in 2011,” reflected, Lee Britton, Commercial Director, PFS.

“As a President, CEO, and Executive Vice-President of Business Development in financial services prior to this, I instinctively knew that PFS could make a real impact in the European payments industry. The focus is still about becoming the No.1 prepaid issuer in Europe and to strategically expand our reach internationally.”

The payments landscape

Before zooming in on the specific milestones achieved by PFS that have become a blueprint for success, let us take a moment to examine the broader fintech space. The PwC Global FinTech Report 2017 highlights that 88% of global financial services companies fear losing revenue to innovators. They might be right to feel jittery, as the facts point to an anxious time for traditional financial services institutions, especially those who lack agility and are slow to pivot in keeping with an ever moving financial stage.

The research is a crystal clear barometer of the mood within traditional banking and how electronic money innovators are making waves and eroding market share. In the same report, it is unsurprising that 82% of respondents plan to increase partnerships with financial technology companies going forward. On the other side of this, 30% of consumers plan to increase usage of non-traditional financial service providers. Only 39% plan to continue to use traditional financial services providers giving more credence to evidence of a major industry-wide shake-up.

Rapid growth

Already by 2010, PFS had launched the first Instant Issue Prepaid programme in France. Today, the company still enjoys a significant prepaid presence in the country through a variety of high-level clients and programmes. In 2012 it was regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority as an electronic money institution. The same year, it received a license from Mastercard and signed its first council in the UK, London Borough Brent Council. This figure now tops 125 with a portfolio incorporating government, local authorities, and Clinical Commissioning Groups. It is rewarding for the PFS family to witness the positive impact that prepaid solutions are having for families across the UK.

Trendsetting

Little did Noel’s 44-strong team realise that they had collectively started a trend in 2013 and were set to become one of only four companies in the history of The Sunday Times Hiscox Tech Track 100 to be listed for five consecutive years.

It is worth noting that by 2014 the team had grown to 71. Another pattern emerged in 2015 when the company, with 128 team members, was listed for two years in a row in the Deloitte Technology Fast 50 UK and the Deloitte Technology Fast 50 EMEA. This was the same year that it launched current accounts in the Eurozone.

A steep climb

It has been fascinating to track PFS’ particularly sharp upward trend on the card loading volumes side:

2010 = £5,054,851.05

2011 = £16,679,741.34

2012 = £79,858,364.10

2013 = £131,762,160.97

2014 = £276,691,237.10

2015 = £501,271,236.31

2016 = £812,535,276.79

2017 = PFS is expected to process £1.2 billion this year

These figures also provide the perfect vehicle to reflect the exponential growth in PFS’ prepaid card issuance:

2010 = 16,000 cards issued to date

2011 = 110,000 cards issued to date

2012 = 370,000 cards issued to date

2013 = 660,000 cards issued to date

2014 = 1,100,000 cards issued to date

2015 = 2,000,000 cards issued to date

2016 = 3,200,000 cards issued to date

2017 = PFS issuing its 4 millionth card

Importantly, it highlights that the company took four years to issue one million cards – now it is issuing one million cards per year.

Sustainability

A consistent work ethic was rewarded this year when Noel was presented with The Queen’s Award for Enterprise: International Trade. Nominated by the Prime Minister, the honour was ratified by Her Majesty the Queen. Other stand out moments in 2017 include the granting of a consumer credit licence by the FCA, the acquisition of the Malta-based technology company Spectre IT, two separate national TV advertising campaigns, and the opening of a new office in Cheshire. It has also been a year in which a €1,000,000 Innovation Fund was launched with entrants comprising entrepreneurs, small to medium enterprises, and schools. The winners are set to be announced in January 2018.

Lee Britton, added, “PFS looks forward to entering into 2018 confident in the fact that we have issued over four million prepaid cards to date. We look forward to continuing to attract new clients with an exciting array of innovative payment solutions and working closely with our 1,100+ corporate clients and over 100 white label programmes. We are proud of our history. Between the Innovation Fund and emerging technologies in development in the payments ecosystem such as the maturity of Blockchain and AI, we believe that the best is yet to come.”

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