Wednesday 29th June 2022
COMO Global is a B2B fintech focused on enhancing global payments and financial service solutions for businesses. Based in Luxembourg, the company has 30+ client companies around the world. We sat down with founder and CEO Angela Nickel to discuss the company’s plans for growth and her experiences as a female fintech founder.
Alliance: First let’s go over what COMO does and your vision for the business, and then we’ll go to your experiences as a female founder. What is COMO’s Customer Value Proposition?
Angela Nickel: Our customer value proposition is an all-in-one, digital, cloud-based platform that offers embedded financial services and integrates any financial services into a non-financial environment. We provide global payment processes, automated multi-party accounts receivable and payable, local and cross-border banking from a single multi-currency international bank account number, or IBAN account. In the future this will include one-touch access to all other financial products (foreign exchange management, treasury management, factoring, lending, insurance, investments and more).
Alliance: Who are your customers?
AN: We don’t have one typical customer, but we have multiple: PSPs (Payment Service Providers), corporations, digital platforms, marketplaces, government platforms, banks and manufacturers.
Alliance: What would you say is most unique about what you offer?
AN: Our all-in-one, digital, cloud-based platform offering embedded financial services is unique in the financial and payments worlds because it enables any company to act as a fintech.
For example, Digital Life, one of our companies, has three extraordinary offerings for customers to build in through APIs and partnerships:
– COMO World offers global payment processing with 400+ payment methods in 150+ countries pay-in, with a dynamic know your customer or anti-money laundering capability, data security, fraud prevention, as well as reporting and dashboards.
-COMO Synchro offers automated account receivables and account management, reconciliation, invoicing and billing, statements, finance G/L, and payout instructions.
-COMO iBAN-X, offers (IBAN 25+), real time cross-border payments, an analytics data engine, card issuing, and more.
Alliance: In what way, if any, can you bring a gender lens to the business, given it is a B2B? (This can include customers and/or internal diversity and inclusion.)
AN: Even though we are a technology company offering financial services throughout our platform, we bring a strong belief in inclusion and equality in all we do: equal rights, equal opportunities, equal payment. The fortuitous fact that COMO was founded by a woman—me—has made us even more aware of gender inequality in the fintech sector. To counterbalance the historical inequality in our field, I’m focusing on making COMO a gender egalitarian, diverse and respectful organization. So far, I am focusing on hiring qualified women in executive positions and on the Board of Directors so that they’re included in the company’s decision-making processes. And COMO itself is a clear example of how successful a company run by women can be.
Alliance: Has being female founded had any impact on the capacity to raise funding for the business?
AN: “Europe’s Rising 100” is a recent white paper published by Sifted and the Financial Times and sponsored by Sapphire Ventures. It clearly points out the “stark reality” that “women-led companies find it harder than men to raise capital and they face further obstacles convincing investors to back their growth.” It also says, “the female founder’s portion of available capital has held below 2 percent for most of the past decade.”
Coincidentally or not, I have found the white paper’s statements go hand-in-hand with our actual reality. I’ll share some anecdotal evidence here: A dear colleague recently told me that when she was pitching to a joint European and American VC firm, they told her that “she should be grateful they were able to arrange an appointment with her” and that by being assertive, she was presenting herself as “arrogant.” Perhaps my colleague’s experience is a radical example, but to me, it’s the symbolic of the financial and entrepreneurial glass ceiling.
The financial world is still a male’s exclusive club built around masculine protocols that impede the full inclusion of women. In our search for funding opportunities, we’ve found a wide spectrum of behavior, from gentlemanly to condescending, and from courtesy to incredulity at dealing with businesswomen. At moments, I have had the impression they met with me just to comply with some sort of political correctness and not because of my merits or my company’s reputation.
It is clear to me that the road toward gender equality is bumpy, and we are not even halfway there yet. Obviously, slowly but surely, there is some progress. I feel today’s female entrepreneurs are paving the way for true gender inclusion.
Alliance: Why did you join the Alliance? What part of membership has been most impactful for you?
AN: I joined the Alliance because I am sure that the time and place for gender equality is here. I am impressed by the existence of a powerful and well-respected organization with the mission to protect and promote women’s rights in the business world. I am grateful to know your organization is around.