Fidel Forecast: What’s coming up in 2020
A year ago, Fidel was a very different business. We were a team of 11 in a little office in London, pre-Series A, and with only a handful of customers. But we had a vision: to democratise access to payment data, globally. Today, we’re several steps closer to making vision a reality. I’m immensely proud of all we’ve achieved over the last 12 months, and wanted to share a little more about how we’ve got to where we are now, and where we’re going next.
In December 2018, I said that some of our big goals included adding Visa real-time, American Express transactions and more global coverage. You can see my full round-up of 2019 here, but in short, we made massive headway against all of them – and then some.
Real-time payment data is one of the biggest value-adds that Fidel offers, and we’ve now got that covered for Visa in Europe. We also integrated new technologies with our friends at Visa and Mastercard, which enabled us to open up the North American market. And we added more power to our offers engine, including offer qualification and billing. But arguably our biggest achievement was quadrupling the number of people flying the Fidel flag. Our team now spans the East and West coasts of America, Australia, the Middle East and Europe.
As with any scaling business, it hasn’t always been smooth sailing. One of our company values is to be honest, and transparency about our internal processes is a part of that.
One challenge that's been important for us to address is compliance. We entered the North American market at the same time as the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) came into effect. The new act gives end-users more control over the collection, sale and governance of their data. It’s a move that aligns directly with our values as a business, and we’re always happy to see more conversation, consent and scrutiny around personal data. That said, it has been a lot of work for us to make sure we’re meeting the letter of the law. Compliance processes can be cumbersome (which is one reason we make sure our customers don’t have go through them!), and they have caused some other timelines and dependencies to slip.
Adding satellite locations has also been hard work. We’ve now got new people in the US, Dubai, Australia and Lisbon, making collaboration and teamwork that bit harder. As a startup, collaboration is key; everything each of us works on impacts every facet of the business. So we’ve had to establish some principles to enable us to work effectively apart and together. Implementing daily catch-ups at set times has worked really well.
So, with a lot of successes and a lot of learnings under our belt, what will we be focusing on in 2020? I wanted to clue you into to some of the key milestones we’re aiming to hit over the next year.
The themes of scaling, adding new functionality and improving our existing product are still really important for us. Having opened up North America last year, we’re now aiming to launch into APAC. Japan’s our first target. Last year, we completed a successful Proof of Concept to deploy card-linked services in what’s a predominantly cash-based society. It posed a unique set of problems. There were industry challenges, such as underdevelopment in Card-Linked offers from merchants And there were technical challenges around consuming data in another language and implementing new processes. Having tackled those, we're now ready to take on the Japanese market.
Next up will be Australia. It’s a big market and an advanced one. Our partner card networks have strong coverage there and we already have boots on the ground, so it’s the next logical step for Fidel. There’s also a large loyalty industry in Australia that we think our card-linking technology will be able to serve well.
We’re also looking to add more functionality and open up new use cases. Currently, we’re focused on loyalty – but it’s by no means the only application of the transaction data we deliver. Things like omnichannel attribution, point of sale lending, spend management and digital receipts are on our radar (and our roadmap), pending some moving pieces.
One way that we’ll power those use cases is by delivering more spend and transaction data on the card itself. That’s important because it increases the scope of what our customers can actually do. Today, the data we deliver has quite set parameters; by the end of the year, we’re hoping to offer an enriched data set that will help our customers build better products.
That’s all on top of improving our existing product. A new dashboard is on the way to make it easier for you to surface and sort your data in one place. We’re making continuous improvements to our merchant onboarding, too. Merchants are the driving force behind the loyalty programmes our customers build with us, so we’re working on making it easier to get them signed up. We’ll also be launching an improved offers platform to make the card-linked experience simpler, clearer and more powerful for both merchants and publishers. We’re really excited about this platform’s potential to increase speed and remove blockers in the market.
Suffice it to say that there’s a lot to look forward to. We’re committed to driving value for our customers, so if you have any feedback or want to chat in more detail about any of this, you can always drop me a line.
In the meantime, make sure you’re subscribed to our blog to stay in the loop with our product updates, and keep an eye on our public product roadmap to see what’s coming next. I’ll check back in at the end of the year to let you know how we’ve got on...