Thought Machine is in the fintech 50



By Paul Taylor, Chief Executive Officer

October, 2019

It’s official – Thought Machine is a member of the fintech elite. We made the Fintech 50 – an annual ranking of the hottest fintech companies in Europe. The criteria are rigorous. A panel of 74 judges, drawn from UBS, SoftBank, Index Ventures, the World Bank and more, examined a shortlist of 2,000 to determine the best of the best.

It’s fantastic to be in it.

We join the likes of Monzo, Revolut, and Form3 in the class of 2019.

It’s also a moment to reflect on what we’ve achieved at Thought Machine.

Back in 2014, when we founded the company, we embarked on a project of immense ambition.

We wanted to tackle the hardest problem in banking – building a core banking engine to replace the tangled spaghetti of legacy systems that banks have been marooned on for decades.

Our dream was to create the ultimate platform for Tier 1 banks. Something fit for the era of AI and machine learning. We vowed to write every line from scratch. No legacy code at all.

Banks yearned for a solution like ours. They still do. None has attempted it. Nor have traditional vendors – they tinker, but none has attacked the problem with our breadth of vision.

Why did we think we could crack it? Three reasons.

1. The firepower of cloud native technology

At Google our founding team saw the potency of cloud native tools. The term cloud native is more than a buzzword. It describes software built to harness the unique properties of the cloud. All the best companies are built on cloud native technology – such as microservices, and containers managed by Kubernetes orchestration. Netflix, Spotify, Lyft, and yes, Google, are cloud native. How else could they serve hundreds of millions of customers?

We knew cloud native core banking offered radical improvements. Just take two challenges: uptime and security. Cloud native applications are ‘always up’. Banks can upgrade, downgrade, expand, contract, and make payments without ever going off-line. No more telling customers the bank is down for maintenance. No more panicking every time an improvement is rolled out. For banks this is a dream come true. And then there’s security. Cloud native apps are split into autonomous chunks, called microservices. These encrypt data at rest. And when data is transmitted between microservices it is encrypted again. Security is maximised.

Unlike our rivals who port legacy systems into the cloud, Thought Machine is cloud native. It’s a decisive advantage.

2. We designed our product from scratch

Our platform Vault runs as a single, unified whole. The microservices interlock perfectly. There are no integration layers, and no ugly unsupported third-party apps. Vault is a philosophically pure design. Steve Jobs would purr if he saw it. The results are sensational. For example, data is held in only one place, single source of truth, as we call it. When applications need customer data they access it via APIs. There is no duplication, thus no chance of conflicted versions. By contrast, traditional core banking software holds data in multiple repositories, requiring reconciliation teams to fix errors. When we talk to banks this feature alone wins them over.

3. Our team

We started with a team of senior engineers drawn from Google. And we’ve added extraordinary talent from Europe and beyond. At the start of 2018 we had 38 employees. By September 2019 we hit 250. We are on course to pass 500 next year. We’ll soon outgrow our Old Street HQ. Our recruitment policy is shamelessly elitist. We want superstars. And with good reason. When you work with premier league talent it shows in the results. Our clients are Tier 1 banks, and I’m confident a major reason they choose to work with Thought Machine is to access our talent pool.

And I’ll let you into a secret. We don’t just hire talent. We nurture it. Working at Thought Machine is like being at university. Our in-house Academy hosts lectures every day. Thought Machiners can learn about the history of banking, engineering philosophy, and payment architectures. We are the #1 tech company in London in the finance sector for talent. This will determine our performance over the long term.

Those are the big three reasons we are in the Fintech 50. Anything else? We’ve been incredibly fortunate in our early clients – starting with Lloyds Banking Group and Atom Bank. These relationships have been outstanding. Banking is a small world. The quality of our relationships with our clients is well known. They love to talk about us to the press! Here’s what the CTO of Atom Bank says about us. It’s a big reason other banks are contacting us out of the blue every day.

And our investors play their part: IQ Capital, Playfair Capital, Backed, Lloyds Banking Group, and our three angel investors Andy Phillipps, David Cleevely, and Richard Little. Building a core banking engine takes resources. We’ve been fully funded from day one, allowing us to build a Tier 1 product. Today, our model is proven. We’ve justified their faith.

What’s next

The future for Thought Machine? Simple. Turning our original vision into a reality worldwide. The banking world is hamstrung by legacy systems. Thought Machine offers liberation. Our product is ready. Tested. Mature. Our client roster is growing on all continents.

Thought Machine’s inclusion in the Fintech 50 is recognition of what we’ve achieved. But let’s regard it as a spur to achieve more. Our mission is to transform banking for the better. We have the product, the vision, the investors, and the team.

There is no limit to what we can achieve.