NCB Financial Group (NCBFG) has established a new financial technology company, TFOB (2021) Limited, made up of professionals in information technology and data analytics, to develop its latest project, the payment platform Lynk which will be a channel for the bank’s participation. in the Digital Currency or CBDC pilot project undertaken by the Bank of Jamaica.
However, the new organization and its Lynk platform are positioning themselves as much more than a vehicle for the closed market testing of the CBDC among CBN staff and a few clients or even the eventual deployment of digital currency to the public. .
TFOB, whose acronym stands for “The Future of the Company,” is headed by Vernon James.
Lynk, a fintech start-up is building the technological backbone and ecosystem for a line of Lynk-branded financial products, said Dr Luke Foster, Chief Growth Officer of TFOB. Financial Gleaner in an interview. Foster, a former Jamaican Rhodes Scholar and physician turned business strategist and technician, is the Chief of Staff to NCB Financal President and CEO Patrick Hylton, and was seconded to work with James on the creation of TFOB and of its products.
James, who ran the former NCB insurance company and was managing director of his successor, NCB Insurance Agency and Fund Management, transferred a year ago to NCB Financial Group to “help with the execution of some strategic projects, “said the banking group. back in October 2020.
TFOB was incorporated in April of this year as a wholly owned subsidiary of NCB Financial and has NCBFG officers James, Hylton, Septimus Blake and Dennis Cohen as directors, with Tricia-Gaye O’Conner as company secretary.
The level of investment in TFOB and Lynk was not disclosed, but the bank called it a “top priority for the management of the NCB group.”
Foster says his current role is to lead sales and marketing for Lynk, guided by data analytics and data intelligence.
âWe strive to be a digital native company, so we’re moving on data and super data-driven,â he said.
The TFOB and Lynk teams integrate a range of skills through a combination of internal staff and consultant advisers.
âThe goal is to become an independent entity. We are in the process of building the team in preparation for the launch as well as for the post-launch. We’re a fintech start-up, and that requires an innovative and strategic, creative, problem-solving mindset, âsaid Foster.
He noted that this approach and requirements are very different from the stable business strategy of the parent company and other NCB Group entities.
âIt requires a more agile mindset, very fast learning, relying on people like software developers, software engineers, product designers and developers, and people in that space. We do a lot of digital marketing and analytics. It is revolutionary for Jamaica to have a fintech ecosystem and to create an ecosystem with high performing creative problem solvers. Lynk is going to be a revolutionary product for the payments industry, âsaid Foster.
While noting that Lynk had the full blessing of the financial services group and that its development was in partnership with the parent company, Foster noted that there is a lot of bureaucracy, processes, structured systems and infrastructure established that are necessarily part of the bank’s brand. -up and operations that are not suited to the growth of a fintech.
âThese don’t allow for very quick decision-making, unlike in a fintech environment where you have to make decisions quickly. You have to learn quickly, if not fail quickly. For a financial institution to achieve some of its goals, it needs to have an independent fintech organization to achieve some of these goals. That’s what’s going on here, âFoster said.
Enjoying great independence, the Lynk platform is positioned as its brand.
âWe are not going to market as an NCB product. NCB is our first partner bank, but we are not an NCB product, âsaid the growth manager.
He compared the Lynk platform to other international payment fintechs such as Venmo, Zelle, and Cashapp.
Foster declined to go into details of other products in the pipeline and spoke generally in his comments regarding the vision for the CBDC NCB deployment.
âNCB directs the pilot. This is a relationship between the BOJ and the NCB to test the CBDC and to achieve the goals that the BOJ has set for it. We will have discussions via NCB with the BOJ regarding access and transport of the CBDC using the Lynk platform. We’re in the early stages of this conversation, âFoster said, adding that the strategic plan for this was still being developed.