A conversation with Ralph Chang
New Zealand organisations are hungry for new financial models like embedded finance that do more for their businesses and their customers. P^werFinance Chief Growth Officer Ralph Chang explains the thinking behind the business, what local organisations are telling him and why P^werFinance is an exciting place to be.
Q. What’s P^werFinance’s origin story? How did you get started?
I was a corporate relationship manager for one of the main NZ banks for many years, but after a while I began to feel like I’d done everything I wanted to in that mode of banking. So I quit my job and went on a pilgrimage with my partner. We walked 1,200km around Shikoku in Japan, visiting 88 temples, and when we got back I spent a few months driving Uber while I figured out what I wanted to do in life.
Those months inspired me to make the leap into an area I saw as exciting: financial technology. After finishing my Uber shift, I used to study up on emerging technologies at the local library. And in January 2018 I got on board with SingleSource, a tiny start-up focused on creating secure digital identities and Know Your Customer on-boarding tools, that evolved into P^werFinance.
I‘ve always wanted to create something. It’s exciting and scary at the same time, but if I hadn’t done what I did I’d still be doing the same old thing. In start-ups, no one’s going to do anything for you, you’ve just got to roll up your sleeves and get stuff done.
Q. How are customers responding to P^werFinance as the new kid on the block?
Our future of finance platform, which emp^wers businesses to service their customer’s financial needs, has been resonating with a lot of people, as do the general values that we hold, of making finance more accessible. Embedded finance isn’t a hard picture to paint because people we speak to already want to see these innovations happen.
Q. What challenges are you working on at the moment?
The stuff we’ve done is very innovative, but it’s always a challenge as a new business to build something that’s sustainable in the short term and which also achieves your long-term vision of helping your customers get the most out of finance. It’s really heartening to see how strong our pipeline is for the next 12 months. We have customers on the journey with us, inside the tent, building our platforms alongside us to ensure everyone achieves the most they possibly can. That ability to collaborate and innovate together is something that really excites people and that’s translated into real success for us.
Q. Who are you hoping to work with?
We’re looking for organisations who are willing to get inside the tent and do more to give New Zealanders a better experience of finance. As well as fintechs and community groups, our customers are commercial operations who require a different lens on how they finance their business.
Q. What are you focused on for the next 12 months?
Anything geared towards growth. Life is definitely more interesting now – every day I could be speaking to potential customers, investors and making further product innovations. We’ve just completed our first significant project for a major customer, and we have a large mandate for so much more. We’ve also just made some fantastic new hires and we’re planning for our team to grow even bigger this year to cope with demand – it’s an incredibly exciting place to be.
Marketing a new business and building trust is a serious task. P^werFinance Chief Marketing Officer Charlotte Kent-Johnston explains the challenges and rewards of launching a start-up doing new (and sometimes very complex) things, what her experience has taught her about achieving cut-through, and her ambitions for the P^werFinance brand.
Building a technology platform from scratch that allows businesses to craft their own financial structures to better support their businesses is a big undertaking. P^werFinance Development Team Lead Isuru Palliyaguru discusses the process for building a unique platform from the ground up, developing software in the fintech space, and why P^werFinance presented an opportunity too good to pass.