Five With Fidel API #6 | Mounir Mouawad, VP of Payments and Emerging Products at Fidel API
It’s been a busy few months across our offices, and we’ve made several major hires over the summer of 2021. One of the key areas of focus has been scoping and developing new products and use cases, which leads us to introduce today’s guest.
Mounir joined Fidel API after spending seven years at one of our clients, Google, where he helped launch the Google Pay platform across 20 markets in just two years. With extensive experience in delivering products, Mounir is now going to take point finding new problems for Fidel API to solve, working alongside the card networks to scope new products, whilst also driving the commercialisation of our existing, live products.
We sat down to discuss his new role, his experiences in product and the most important lesson he’s learned from being the father to an incredibly cute baby!
Q1 | Hi Mounir, welcome aboard! Let’s dive right in, what initially attracted you to work for Fidel API?
Thanks for having me! There are so many good reasons to be excited about joining Fidel API. For one, I relished the opportunity to be a part of an exciting growth journey. The future of Fidel API’s products is promising, but uncharted, and I’m excited to play a role in shaping that journey.
Secondly, it also means having the opportunity to join a great team at Fidel API and help shape what is already an outstanding place to work. Finally, I see Fidel API as poised to play a pivotal role in building the connectivity layer that underpins today’s rapid evolution of the financial services sector - I’m pumped!
Q2 | You were on the ground during Google Pay’s initial release, helping to launch the product in 20 markets over two years. What was the most important lesson you learned about releasing a game-changing product during that time?
People, People, People! What made the biggest difference in my experience was the resilient bunch working on growing Google Pay in Europe. We rallied behind a flywheel of growing merchant acceptance across use cases - as well as driving user adoption rates across issuers. Both those things were critical in allowing Google Pay’s user base to grow successfully.
Frankly, we were able to do that despite the bandwidth of leadership being so stretched to be able to adequately resource everyone, as they simultaneously handled opportunities in the US, too. Again, that’s another testament to the people who made the Europe launch happen - a real bootstrapping triumph, I reckon!
Q3 | After studying Computer and Communications Engineering - and working across a spectrum of product roles - you must have quite a unique perspective. Can you explain a little about your own process of identifying problems to solve and scoping out the ‘next big thing?’
Obviously, the jury is still out on my ability to scope out the next big thing until I’ve done it! One thing I loved about my time at Amazon was their obsessive focus on starting with customers’ needs and working backwards. The ideal opportunity is when the assets and capabilities you’re able to tap into put you in a position to solve a customer need better than anyone else. That’s what I’m trying to figure out at Fidel API as we speak.
From an idea-generation standpoint, I also love the constructive chaos of fielding perspectives across the organisation and especially from external-facing teams (e.g. sales, business development, support etc) to arrive at a shortlist of product hypotheses that we can rapidly test out. It sounds so neat and clear on paper, doesn’t it?
Q4 | Are there any products or concepts you've seen trend in the fintech space that you'd be excited to see Fidel API play a role in?
I can think of quite a few. Bearing in mind that this is all very much exploratory at this stage, my current favourite topic is around user authentication. As payments and services become increasingly digital, third parties need better safeguards to verify users’ identities and curb fraud. Users also need better control over who accesses their data and their payment methods.
There may well be an opportunity for us to play a role in this space, starting with helping merchants secure card payments seamlessly. I also really want to say something about crypto...But I’m keeping a close eye and waiting for its broader adoption in day-to-day consumer payments for now. That’s when I reckon it will get a lot more interesting.
Q5 | You recently became a dad - congratulations! If you could give one golden piece of advice to a new parent, what would it be?
Ha! I am but a padawan in this space. As a parent and as a husband, my top tip is to try spending your time purposefully. This means being deliberate about when and where you work, what you do (and especially don’t do!) with the little free time you have, and what decisions you’re happy to relinquish control over, typically to a partner...or child!