We sat down to talk with Noel Moran about his business – Prepaid Financial Services (newly crowned European CEO European Entrepreneur of the Year for Payment Solutions) and his amazing journey so far.
PFS began its journey in 2008 and is the reigning European Business Awards Digital Technology winner for 34 countries. Entities requiring advanced FinTech (short hand for ‘financial technology,’ it is new tech that seeks to improve and automate the delivery and use of financial service) solutions turn to the innovative company for guidance in launching and delivering cutting-edge payments technology. Noel Moran is the CEO of PFS, who after years of traditional banking and financial technology experience at the highest levels brought the company to life after a chat around the Kitchen table in 2008.
Noel’s background has always been in financial services. After leaving school in Ireland at 17 without a qualification, he went on to become one of the world’s foremost experts in the prepaid ecosystem. Noel has supported young techies with a €1,000,000 FinTech Innovation Fund and a Graduate and Internship Programme.
Noel worked his way from the ground up withtwo of the main traditional banks in Ireland, Permanent TSB and AIB. Here inthe UK, he gained years of valuable industry experience working at Lloyds Bank,Royal Bank of Scotland, Co-Operative Bank and MBNA.
Today, from its HQ on Regent Street with over 160 employees, Noel’s company is the prepaid pulse that other businesses look to for guidance to successfully navigate a highly regulated FinTech sector. Noel was bitten by the entrepreneurial bug over a decade ago. In that time, both he, his leadership team and the company have become some of the most respected names in the financial prepaid landscape.
After ending 2018 with over 5 million cards in over 24 different countries and a phone that constantly rings with Government agencies looking to learn from the best, Noel is clear he hasn’t lost touch with his family values. “I owe a lot to the people in my life from my hometown of Navan, County Meath in Ireland. My wife Valerie and I are involved in a number of initiatives to help local people from sports groups and athletes to arts in the community. It’s really important to us and helps us feel even more a part of the locality and the place where I was lucky enough to grow up. It is important that when you do get lucky in business you can give something back to the local community and we try to do this where possible.”.
During the back and forth, Noel lets slip he’s just only got back from a trip across Europe meeting a number of agencies to discuss the innovation in his industry. Flying back into Heathrow and immediately on the go again, it’s impressive that his drive and energy is so high when you consider the miles, he’s clocked up this week.
With such a focus on security and being innovative, it’s clear that PFS has stayed ahead of its competitors by being transparent with its clients but also meeting the expectations of some of the biggest financial institutions in the UK. Noel is proud of the statistics that he can use to back up this belief that PFS is genuinely top dog in its industry:
First contactless card in the UK.
First in the UK to offer current account switching.
Live in 25 countries.
Operates across 23 currencies.
Over 5.4 million cards have been issued to date.
Issued over 1 million new accounts last year.
More than 150 white label programmes are in operation.
Impressive list of in excess of 1,700 corporate clients including global brands.
First in the world to launch a payment card with 16 currencies.
Largest FinTech fund of its kind in Ireland – €1,000,000.
The company under his leadership has grown to four offices in three countries. Its Tech Labs are in sunny FinTech-friendly Malta in the beautiful central Mediterranean, I suggested a follow up meeting at their Malta office! They advise they’ll get back to me on it.
We talked briefly about the future with plans for how Noel can continue to keep PFS in its enviable front running position. He mentions briefly that they will be moving into a brand-new landmark high-tech building in the coming months, with the official announcement due any day.
I ask Noel where he sees the next big expanding markets for PFS, Noel confirms he is preparing to expand into in Africa and Asia as the need for transparent suppliers with a high track record of success is needed to keep pace with the expanding markets. Another enormous opportunity for PFS, is working towards an IPO (Initial public offering or stock market launch is a type of public offering in which shares of a company are sold to institutional investors and usually also retail investors; an IPO is underwritten by one or more investment banks, who also arrange for the shares to be listed on one or more stock exchanges) on the London Stock Exchange’s AIM this year.
I finish by going back to the start and asking Noel about what it felt to win the award at the European Business Awards. “It is humbling to comprehend the sheer scale of the European Business Awards where a total of 112,000 companies from 34 countries choose to get involved”. By his side, Noel has an experienced team and his wife Valerie as they aim to make a significant impact in FinTech this year using a tried and tested strategic approach that has seen the company go from strength to strength over a short ten-year span.