Five with Fidel #4 | Siobhan Costello, General Counsel at Fidel

Welcome to Episode Four of Five with Fidel!

Luckily the rule of five only applies to the questions, not the episodes, so you’ll be relieved to hear we aren’t nearly done with this series - there are many more to come, dear reader.

A little backstory

In today’s episode, it’s our pleasure to welcome our guest and a new member of the Fidel team - two for one! Siobhan Costello joins Fidel as General Counsel, meaning she'll be responsible for our legal and compliance functions. As an experienced lawyer with a vibrant and varied background in the financial services world, she's sure to make great addition to Fidel. She was previously Head of Regulatory Law at Visa, spent some time at the FCA and, before that, international law firms Baker & McKenzie and CMS.

Siobhan has deep expertise in the fintech industry, from advising a vast array of clients across the sector, to creating regulatory policy to boost competition and then - working with large brands - navigating that new regulation as Open Banking evolved. We chatted to her on a couple of her specialist areas, including regulation and data privacy; some of the most pressing and pervasive topics in financial services today. No pressure, then.

Q1 | Hey Siobhan, first things first, welcome to Fidel! It’s great to have you on board as our General Counsel! We’re really happy to have you on the team, but could you give a little background to our audience on your past experiences in regulation and data law?

I am very excited to have joined Fidel.  There is huge potential in the real-time data space and I wanted to join a company whose mission I could align with, but also with the right culture, where legal and compliance was taken seriously.

I have taken quite a few twists and turns in my career.  I started life in law firms as an antitrust lawyer. When I left private practise during the credit crunch to join the FCA, my focus turned to the intersection between innovation, technology and financial services. I was part of the foundation team at the FCA charged with improving competition in financial services, including reducing the regulatory barriers to fintechs and setting up the innovation hub to help smaller companies. Moving to the other side of the fence at a big payments brand, I got to see the challenges of being on the receiving end of new regulatory policy and the gaps that exist between regulation and the realities of industry.  

Over the last couple of years, I have been closely involved in the international development of the open data ecosystem and the important, integral issues of data privacy and security.

Q2 | One of the pillars of Fidel is to be trusted custodians of the data we work with. What do you make of our current approach and how do you think we can continue to improve as custodians?

Fidel is a company that takes its role as data custodian very seriously.  As we scale and move into new regions, we must ensure that these high standards are maintained in everything we do.  Data ethics and data compliance must be firmly engraved in our DNA, whilst at the same time ensuring that the experience of connecting to Fidel is still both simple and convenient.

Q3 | On the subject of data security and custodianship, how do you see that role developing within the payments ecosystem in future?

In an increasingly digital world, data is more valuable than ever.  The World Economic Forum has recognised that the untapped potential in data, if harnessed, could help solve some of society’s biggest problems in almost every area of life. Data privacy and security has a central role now. Following Europe’s GDPR, new data protection legislation is being enacted globally.  Just as with any regulation, laws need to strike the right balance between enabling new, innovative data driven insights and addressing customer privacy concerns.

The more that companies who handle personal data can demonstrate the highest standards in terms of security, transparency and trust, the less regulators will feel the need to intervene to address consumer harm. So, the responsibility is on all companies in the payments ecosystem to ensure that we maintain that trust.

Q4 | Ok, now we've discussed the serious stuff, we need suggestions urgently. Could you suggest one thing - other than Netflix - that has helped you get through the numerous lockdowns?

My bike trainer and zwift…’s a much healthier addiction and has been keeping me sane. I waited ages for that trainer to arrive.  When this is all over, I wonder how much gym equipment will end up on ebay. It will always be a source of amazement to me that in the middle of a pandemic, the whole of the UK and Ireland ran out of kettlebells!!

Q5 | And finally, because we can't exercise all the time in lockdown: Welcome to 'Desert Island Flicks' - You can bring one film with you while you spend a year on a desert island, what’re you going for?

It’s an old classic: The Shawshank Redemption. There are few films I have voluntarily watched more than once.  I have seen Shawshank about 10 times, and it gets me every single time.  It reminds me of Viktor Frankl’s book Man’s Search for Meaning -  the extraordinary capacity we have for finding hope and overcoming in the most adverse of circumstances.    


You can connect with Siobhan on Linkedin here if you’d like to say hi. Make sure to look out for our next Five with Fidel episode - you can subscribe to our blog here to never miss a beat.