The ‘big UK opportunity’ – as seen by our new country lead

Rafael Plantier, our new UK & Ireland Country Manager, arrives at Tink with a motto: open banking is good only once people get to enjoy the fruits of their data. To make this a reality, our London-based recruit wants to seize the open banking opportunity — and give innovators in the UK the right tools for building data-driven services.

Rafael Plantier is drawn to big opportunities. If there’s a red thread running through his career – most recently at Stripe – it’s his commitment to scaling financial technology for millions. 

In open banking, Rafael – or Rafa, as we’re already calling him – has found such an opportunity in spades. In a UK market where fintech is booming and banks are sharpening their digital toolkits, he sees plenty of innovation ahead – innovation that can change people’s lives for the better. 

‘I jumped on this opportunity because I am very passionate about scaling technology that can bring meaningful, positive impact on society’, says Rafael. ‘With Europe being the cradle of open banking through its game-changing legislation, I see the opportunity of a lifetime to make a difference.’ 

As local businesses are looking to leverage open banking to its fullest, Rafael wants to make Tink’s technology a key part of the equation – for banks as well as developers working on their next big idea.

Our new UK champion’s vision

In his new role at Tink, Rafael Plantier will combine his vision with 12 years of fintech experience to lead and expand our business in the UK and Ireland. Building from our existing partnerships with the likes of PayPal and Klarna, he sees massive growth opportunities opening up as the PSD2 era kicks in.

Our new UK point man is no stranger to hyper-growth environments. Besides knowing the payments industry at heart, Rafael’s forte is building growth teams and scaling product-focused partnerships. At Stripe, he led Latin American expansion before taking charge of EMEA banking.  

As a complement to his business chops, Rafael brings a deep-seated passion for financial literacy and inclusion. He believes open banking will help remove the ‘misconception’ that money management is only for the wealthy – and bring more people on a path to financial health.

‘Many people, unfortunately, have low-interest bearing investments while holding high-interest credit card debt. This tends to happen due to biases that we’re all subject to as humans,’ says Rafael. ‘And that’s where data-driven services come in. By bringing light to our full financial lives, we can all start making more informed decisions and discover services that better suit our personal profile.’

The UK and Ireland’s booming open banking scene

Rafael will be taking Tink’s offering to a buzzing market. The UK was one of the early adopters of the open banking movement – with local regulations (aptly titled ‘Open Banking’) that required the CMA9 group of banks to produce open APIs already in early 2018. 

With almost half of Europe’s licensed AISP and PSP’s located in the country, the UK is also more mature when it comes to financial providers. And, from booming neobanks to Transferwise, fintechs are fundamentally starting to change the financial industry.

‘In the UK, we’re seeing how fintechs are shifting the playing field with data-driven and transparent services – like Habito has done for remortgaging, Transferwise for foreign exchange, or Nutmeg for investment management’, says Rafa. ‘What’s more, consumers are increasingly demanding these types of services, because they simplify what used to be cumbersome processes. All of this makes for a great launchpad for innovation with financial data’, he concludes.

For now, the debate on open banking still centres on immediate challenges (like the quality of bank APIs), but the holy grail for the UK and Ireland is figuring out how to use financial data to add real value. 

‘While the UK and Ireland are charging ahead in their open banking journey, the industry is still figuring out how financial data can be used to deliver truly actionable services – something that will move the needle for consumers’, Rafael says. 

Finding the right use for financial data

Besides working closely with our local partners, we also provide an open banking platform that lets any business connect to 2,500 European banks through one API – and independently launch data-driven and personalised services.

‘Building on Tink’s hard-fought experience from both consumer and business sides, combined with our market-leading engineering muscle, I believe we can be the partner that local businesses and banks need to take their user experience to the next level.’ 

Despite the political uncertainty, Rafael is confident that the UK will remain a hotbed for financial innovation – where challenger banks are just the spear’s tip of a new generation of financial services. 

As he sees it, now is the time to take the long view on financial data – and patiently start preparing for a new playing field. Before we know it, the whole industry will turn on the intelligent use of financial data. 

Rafael points out that it took more than a decade for what are today obvious solutions – contactless payments, and SEPA – to become harmonised. Once they did, they were ultimately taken for granted: ‘We're only just seeing the start of Europe-wide open banking. One day, I believe we’ll look back and see this movement as an obvious – and deceptively "instant" – success story.’

And with the wealth of talent, capital and entrepreneurial spirit that London is home to, it’s a great time to start realising this generation-defining opportunity. 

Welcome Rafa.

If you want Rafael’s closer take on the state of PSD2 APIs, read his guest post on 11:FS.

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