This is the first in a series of interviews with senior management and product heads at Tintra plc. The first edition is with CEO and Chief Visionary Richard Shearer where he sets out his insight into the mission and vision behind Tintra
What is the mission behind Tintra PLC?
My passion is driven by the fundamental belief that there is more that connects us than separates us. We, particularly in the ‘west’ sometimes think, and indeed behave, in a manner that our way of seeing the world is somehow preferable or correct whereas others belief and culture systems aren’t.
Tintra’s mission is an extension of this, these preconceptions extend into the banking sector and our clear focus is on developing revolutionary banking infrastructure focused on building technology that is free of social, cultural, and geographic biases that in turn will drive financial inclusion across developing regions of the world,
We do this by utilising an innovative deep tech platform based on artificial intelligence and a highly regulated global banking stack. This is technology that, at its core, is designed to build a banking world where technology is focused on establishing financial innocence and not purely be prepared to prosecute financial guilt.
What impact do you envision Tintra PLC having on the World, particularly those in emerging market countries?
If we get this right, we drive true financial inclusion to 100’s of millions of people across Latin America, Africa and Asia. It is this mission that gets me up each morning at 5am. It is not just about providing a bank account or a loan; done correctly we empower entire communities to fulfil their potential and create an economic environment where there is genuine equality (in a financial sense at least) across the world and we no longer live in a world where banking is 10 times more challenging, and less beneficial, for someone in an emerging market than it is for someone in London or New York.
Tintra has evolved at a rapid rate over the last 18 months or so. What do you aim to achieve over the next 18 months?
The ground we have covered in the 18 months since I became CEO is beyond my wildest imagination. The next 18 months, well I don’t know, it’s a little bit confronting to think what is possible if I’m honest.
I don’t think anyone in their right mind when told a year and a half ago would have suggested that in early 2023 we’d be sitting with Governments on three continents discussing work we can do to improve the banking infrastructure in their country, have licences in process on four continents, all being worked on by a team of high profile brilliant minds equally focused on a vision to change the way the world interacts.
The next 18 months is going to see a lot of the work we are doing resulting in new patent applications, the award of some of the licences that we are working through with regulators now, full operations beginning in some places, especially Qatar. We are expecting the UK AEMI to be our next approval and expect that, according to the timing rules set out by the FCA, to be during the balance of Q1 2023. Of course, this is not in our control but we are planning with that in mind.
As a fast-moving organisation that is clearly revolutionising global banking infrastructure, how do you effectively communicate the position of the business and its potential for growth and impact to existing or even new investors?
Honestly, this is sometimes a bit of a challenge in a public environment. What we are doing is complex, multi-jurisdictional and very technologically challenging. Ours is a unique proposition and to fully understand it folks need a very broad base of understanding that very few people have, or can even be expected to have. It is actually in this point that the opportunity lies, it is a lot of deep experience and knowledge that pulls these disparate concepts together at such scale – if it was easy to understand somebody else would have done it before us. So as usual there is a rough that pushes up against the smooth!
There are also the challenges of business intelligence. We don’t want to be oversharing what we are doing as it gives competitors the chance to copy or respond. And at this point in our curve there are established financial institutions with deeper pockets and bigger teams that could catch and pass us, so we need to be disclosive whilst maintaining the integrity of our IP at all times.
Over the next 18 months or so, we are essentially a research and development company with a clear focus. We are a very US style business focused on long-term vision and execution. As I’ve said a bunch of times, we are running what is in essence a US style start up in a UK public environment. It’s a unique way of doing things, which on the one hand is pretty cool and innovative, but on the other rather challenging in a square peg, round hole kind of way.
How does the future success of Tintra weigh on you personally as CEO?
Honestly speaking, when it comes to the ultimate goal, it doesn’t anymore. For a year I went out of my way to sense check the vision and the strategy, looking for people to tell us that it’s wrong or unachievable, not seeking people to agree with us for short term comfort. The amount of validation that we have received from all corners of the globe and some of the best thinkers in the space along with the fact we have a team stacked with brilliant minds makes it undeniable now that what we are doing is the right thing at the right time. I am almost certain that we will succeed in some form.
In recent weeks, I have met with 3 African Government teams, been to Davos, to Azerbaijan to meet their Central Bank and I am currently answering these questions flying back from the Middle East where we have received capital from some rather serious investors.
So all of that part I am super comfortable around. Where I still obsess is over the execution of the Culture Lab’s mission of cultural mapping. It is this that is truly unique and takes so much deep thought. It’s wildly exciting, but very challenging and we are in such uncharted territory that innovation is certainly non-linear.
This is a potent mission setting out to change the lives of people all over the world so the burden of the goal we’ve set ourselves of course weighs on me. But I get more and more comfortable by the day as the end goal becomes clearer and clearer.
What would you say to those investors who curious about Tintra’s mission and its ability to succeed in revolutionising global banking?
Look, ours is a big vision and its going to be challenging to achieve. We are consistent in our message; we have so much positive energy and support from all corners of the world; we think we’re the right team to make the change we are setting out to achieve.
We would love as many people as possible to come along for the ride, but this is a multi-year project and it is not for everyone, so folks should take the time to understand us, then take a view if they want to come along. If so – amazing – but it’s important to keep an eye on the horizon with us and worry about where the company will be in 2025, and not what it looks like on a random dreary afternoon in early January 2022.
I don’t think we’re for everyone and for those that are more driven by short-term ideals then maybe we’re not a good addition to their investment strategies and investing in a company that’s doing things a little more vanilla and less unorthodox way than we might be a better option. Making great change is challenging but the rewards will be great in both impact and profit.
I am as passionate as anyone can be about solving this problem and achieving our mission. I have assembled a team that humbles me with their support. We truly believe we are going to create something that changes the lives of 10’s or 100’s of millions of people, perhaps entire countries.
We are sincere in our beliefs and focused on our mission. I believe we can do it, but it’s not for the feint of heart.”
Tintra is progressing at an impressive rate. What do you consider your main achievements to date?
I will only really feel achievement once we’ve delivered on our plans and until then I don’t really feel anything toward individual micro accomplishments. But I guess to give a fuller, and maybe less annoying, answer, I think the fact we have raised huge amounts of capital when considering when I took over as CEO the market cap of the company was around £2m. The buy in from the governments I just mentioned around the world much earlier in the curve than we expected. Having two licences, more pending and filed 4 patents, at the same time as unwinding the legacy business of 20 years that I adopted, all in a little more than 18 months, it’s not bad going.
I think the fact that we execute on everything we say – if maybe a little later or a little differently than we anticipate – is something, that when working at the scale we are. is something that we all have a right to be rather proud of, especially in the very challenging macro market conditions that we are currently in the midst of.
Tell us about the Tintra Foundation and what inspired you to launch it?
The Tintra Foundation is the philanthropic partner of Tintra plc. Its focus is on high impact work in the emerging world where it relates to cultural understanding especially, but not limited to, its work with the world’s last remaining Hunter-Gatherer Tribes, who remain key to keeping our natural evolution alive as we as a modern society do our best to do more harm than good.
The work of the foundation is representative of Tintra’s commitment to the emerging world and in driving inclusion of all kinds across developing regions by using technology and resources to assist people in different ways according to their need and not our perception of that need.
Whether that is working with Hunter Gatherer tribes to document, understand and assist their culture or working with local people that are creating impact in their communities and empowering them to do so. Ultimately the foundation’s work is driven by the same as Tintra plc, bringing people and communities together and it will be announcing a very exciting development in the coming weeks.
Richard Shearer, CEO, Tintra PLC