OANDA founder Michael Stumm says Canadian FinTech companies must think beyond Canada

As more people look to disrupt the FinTech sector in Canada, it may be useful for them to learn from the successes and failures of companies that are already doing it.

Speaking at FinTechTO, Michael Stumm, co-founder of OANDA, a company that made currency exchange information and currency trading available on the Internet, shared lessons from the process of building OANDA and dealing with different challenges in the FinTech sector.

Stumm suggested that if people want to build disruptive FinTech companies, they have to think big and outside of just the Canadian market. This is what he says OANDA did to make a much larger impact in the sector.

“We do millions of transactions worldwide. We told Canadian customers to go away,” said Stumm. “We were international from day one…we always had the outlook of being very international, not Canadian-focused.”

Stumm pointed to some of OANDA’s milestones and weak points since its launch in 1996 until 2012 to suggest that as things change in the economy and financial sector, companies have to adjust to these changes and address factors like building a company’s team, seeking investment, and improving products and services.

“Every bank said it’ll [currency trading business] never work, it’ll never fly. But we just persisted and we worked on it, and revenue started to come and customers started to come,” said Stumm. He also made a point of how OANDA disrupted Canada’s FinTech sector as it came up with a business model to sell foreign currencies at a lower price in comparison to major banks. In order to create something that is scalable and impactful, he added that people have to work hard and persevere.

“If you just put your mind to it and work really hard and persevere, even when it looks like everything’s over, you just keep going because you know it’s the right thing to do,” said Stumm. “It makes a big difference.”

Watch the full presentation below:

The latest FinTechTO is happening on Wednesday, October 19. Get your tickets here.


Amira Zubairi

Amira Zubairi is a staff writer and content creator at BetaKit with a strong interest in Canadian startup, business, and legal tech news. In her free time, Amira indulges in baking desserts, working out, and watching legal shows.

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