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2021 - That was the year that was

It would have been great to say, well at least this year we saw the end of the pandemic.

As I write this, we have more reasons to be optimistic that we are closer to the end, but we are still going to have some tough months ahead thanks to the latest variant.

Covid-19 has been overlooking our shoulders throughout the year and dictated how we have worked together as a team. At least we were able to spend some time in the office and get away to some events, but we are still not totally free to do business as we once did. We’re all hoping I’m sure that 2022 will see the end of this monstrous episode in human history.

As is common at this time of year, I’m going to have a look back and see what was my main highlight. 

Embedded finance

First and foremost, and I don’t want to sound corny here, but hats off to the individuals and companies who have kept their spirits up during these difficult times. Our lives have never been under so much pressure, yet there has been a sense of fortitude and perseverance that warms the heart. We’re all aware of the pressures of constant Zoom meetings, working from home and then working in sanitized offices, and sometimes not meeting new colleagues in person for months, but we’ve on the whole pulled through.

We are indeed fortunate that we are in an industry that has adapted well to the rigours of the pandemic. What is blindingly obvious is that the financial consumer needs to be served with modern, digital products that match their needs for managing their finances in everyday and difficult circumstances.

Terms such as Open Banking, Banking-as-a-Service and Embedded Finance may have sounded a touch optimistic when first introduced, but they have heralded a new way we do financial services, one which puts the customer at the fore.


Secondly, and forgive me for talking about Railsbank here, but the high point for me this year was our trip to Portugal in November. We had booked a stand at the amazing Web Summit expo which is held every autumn in Lisbon. This was a departure for us, because it was not our usual financial focused conference, but one where the big and not so big brands talk digital. It’s truly an exciting event. 

It was a rare chance to physically meet colleagues I hadn’t seen for years (apart from in Zoom meetings) and also talk to customers who I could actually stand alongside and share an enjoyable conversation with. We took a lot of people to Libson and it worked wonders for morale. Okay, back in November we were hopeful that virtual conferences were a thing of the past (I’m not so sure now), but it was like being released back into the community. I even enjoyed my no-frills airline experience and that’s saying something. 

Now, I’m not going to mention the two hour queue to get through Lisbon airport - thank you Brexit - or the frequent rain showers - it was November, after all - but for us it was a chance to get back on the stump and talk to our existing and potential customers about what we could for them. It was also great because we launched our new category, finance embedded experiences, and revealed a new corporate identity.

New category

The new category is an evolutionary process which has seen us on a journey from Opening Banking, to Banking-as-a-Service and Embedded Finance, and now beyond. It has been an exciting journey and one which has helped millions of people manage their finances. I am truly excited as to how the industry is developing and embedded finance experiences are, I believe, the future.

Revealing our new identity was fun as well. We are a startup at heart. And blimey, it was only five years ago when the ship was first launched and founders did everything themselves and at speed. You might ask why it's taken so long to ring a few changes, as some companies seem to change their skin more time than I have hot dinners, but whatever we started with worked. The original website was simple and direct, and did the trick. It attracted customers with simple messaging and a helpful approach. As we built the business and grew our platform, and talked to far more audiences than when we started, the website had to be upgraded and enlarged, reflecting a larger and more sophisticated business. 

And what was most invigorating about this whole process, creating a new category and redoing our website, is that we have been forced to look at our business from a new perspective. And that has been hard for all of us, having external consultants challenge our perceptions and our methods, making us look deep into our processes and operations. We came out the other side I think a better team, even though it has been an intense period.

Mixed emotions

And so we now sit at the end of 2021. As I said at the start of my column, it’s been a tough year and one which has delivered mixed emotions, of seeing everyone having to cope with the pandemic, yet having to continue marching forward with their business. I won’t be sorry to see 2021 go, so I’ll shortly raise a glass and welcome in 2022 with a sense of hope.

Happy new year to you all.



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Louisa Murray

Louisa Murray

COO Europe


Member since

21 Jan 2021



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