By: 6 September 2023

Jose Esteban, chief financial officer at Ebury, spoke to FinTech Intel to discuss foreign exchange solutions, the future of international payments and building one of Europe’s fastest growing companies

Jose Esteban, chief financial officer at Ebury

Jose Esteban, chief financial officer at Ebury, spoke to FinTech Intel to discuss foreign exchange (FX) solutions, the future of international payments and building one of Europe’s fastest growing companies.  

Can you tell me about Ebury, its solutions and what it offers?  

Ebury was founded in 2009 to help SMEs simplify international trade. Fast forward 14 years and we are one of the fastest growing global fintechs. We provide tech-enabled, diversified transaction banking services to SMEs. 

Headquartered in the UK and present in more than 20 countries, Ebury offers integrated solutions for FX risk management, cross-border payments, mass payments solutions and trade finance. 

As an example of our one-stop-shop financial solutions, take an importer purchasing supplies from abroad. We would help them manage FX risk across over 80 currencies via a number of available products including FX forwards and options. We could also help them access an import finance facility. If they were a multi-national company hiring employees abroad, our Mass Payment Platform could pay their employees in local currency. 

Similarly, they could also use our cash management platform, offering multi-currency accounts in over 10 countries to manage balances, payments and trade flow through our proprietary integrated platform Ebury Online and new mobile app.  

What does your role involve? 

As global chief financial officer, I am responsible for financial and regulatory reporting, tax, financial planning and analysis, treasury, business development and safeguarding, and capital management. Essentially, my main role is taking financial data and using it to influence operational decision-making and strategy to achieve our ambitions. A key part of this is accurate financial reporting which ensures we monitor the business to allow the management team to take strategic decisions rooted in data.  

Risk management is another key part of being a CFO and that financial risk is effectively monitored. For example, I maintain a forecast process to support visibility of the expected future financial performance  of the Ebury Group across different scenarios.  Some of which include the financial impact coming out of the stress of our key risk factors. Finally, I take a leadership role across a number of activities such as M&A, funding (equity or debt) raises and sit on the boards of our subsidiaries to ensure our strategy is executed throughout the Group. 

You have worked across the world, in South America, the USA and the UK. What similarities and difference have you noticed working in the financial services sector in different regions?   

Historically, volatility tends to be higher in South America. This increases demand for risk management flows which provides an opportunity for Ebury given our expertise in managing these risks combined with our strong local presence. 

Europe (including the UK) has a large number of SMEs and a massive cross-border trade flow. We perceive that European SMEs are largely under serviced by the European banks yet they are becoming more global, demanding payments into more countries and more currencies so again there is a significant opportunity for Ebury. 

Ebury has won many awards and been named as one of the fastest growing companies in Europe. What do you put this success and growth down to?   

Ebury has a strong culture of service excellence and high performance which has been critical to our success. We encourage entrepreneurialism so all employees feel as if they own a part of the company. This cultivates passion, persistence and critical thinking which are key to meeting our clients’ needs and delivering optimal solutions—after all, a happy client is more likely to be a retained client. 

We have also developed a strong business model which relies on 4 main pillars.  

Firstly, client coverage to provide our clients with a dedicated relationship manager, creating a personalised solution based on a deep understanding of their business to better meet their needs. 

Global reach with presence in more than 20 countries so we can provide regulated financial services with local expertise twinned with a global, group perspective. This is a major asset since regulatory demands to open licenses in many countries we operate in have become challenging, creating barriers to entry for many of our competitors. 

Innovative product offering that provides a fully-fledged suite of products—critical to meeting our customers’ cross border trading needs. 

Lastly, a unique online platform and new mobile app allowing customers to manage their transactions, funds and positions quickly and easily, globally, 24/7.     

International payments is a growing sector. How has Ebury differentiated itself and been able to stand out from the competition to gain market share?  

Ebury’s point of difference is our combination of global reach and local connectivity. We benefit from a large network of banking partners which allows us to hold bank accounts—in many different currencies—around the world. That infrastructure also enables Ebury to disburse payments locally, creating cost and time efficiencies for our clients.  

Our ability to pair this network  with our risk management capabilities makes Ebury unique. This attracts larger SMEs and gives us the ability to deal with more valuable, internationally active businesses. 

What’s next for Ebury?  

Ebury’s over-arching ambition is to be the global leading platform for B2B cross border trade. To achieve that, we are concentrating on 3 main areas: global expansion, new verticals and product development.  

Latin America, the Middle East and Africa are particularly important to us geographically while we are targeting growth in specific “underserved” verticals where the cross-border component is present and there is strong demand.  

Where do you see the market of international payments and foreign exchange going in the future?  

Speed, efficiency, security and flexibility. The world of B2B payments is evolving rapidly due to advancements in technology and industry regulations. This has shaped a marketplace where the globalisation of businesses is driving the need for faster, more efficient, more cost effective, more secure and more flexible solutions that can overcome the hurdles of multiple regulatory environments. 

AI and machine learning will further streamline B2B international payment processes by automating tasks, detecting fraud and optimising transaction routing. APIs will also increase customisation of payment solutions, enhancing security and cost efficiency. 

Image: Ebury  

Josh Poyser
Josh Poyser is an editor at FinTech Intel. He has written about fintech for several years and appeared at FinTech Connect 2023 on the 'Unlocking Success: The Art of Fintech PR' panel.