An exclusive interview with Luigi Wewege, Senior Vice President of Caye International Bank, a FinTech School Instructor and Published author of The Digital Banking Revolution.
Tell us about yourself?
I am the Senior Vice President of Caye International Bank headquartered on Ambergris Caye Island in Belize, Central America, Principal of Palmetto Global Ventures a financial consultancy firm focused on digital banking and FinTech solutions and serve as an Instructor at the FinTech School which provides online training courses on the latest technological and innovation developments within the financial services industry. Outside of my main roles I additionally serve as a Mentor at FinTech Go a startup accelerator for financial technology companies, as a Team Member of the FinTech Portfolio the world’s 1st member-owned FinTech innovation ecosystem, and as a speaker for the Silicon Valley Innovation Center. I am also the published author of: The Digital Banking Revolution which is available in audio, kindle and paperback formats throughout all major international online bookstores.
Previously I was the CEO of Vivier & Co a boutique financial services firm, the Commercial Manager of publicly listed Investment Research Group a financial advisory company where I led their media division and was a Senior Consultant at The Braintrust Network which was a Central Europe based management consultancy. While I was completing my undergraduate degree, I executed a pilot study for the Federal Trade Commission during one of the most serious financial times for the American economy. The primary focus of the study was to examine and determine the accuracy of credit bureau information, with the research he conducted ultimately providing the impetus for a report which was presented before the United States Congress under Section 319 of the Fair & Accurate Credit Transactions Act of 2003.
How did you get your idea or concept for the business?
The financial crisis of 2007-08 had little effect on the New Zealand banking sector, due to their much sterner regulation. Post crisis I began to notice an increase in people from around the world inquiring about the attractive rates offered within the country. Thus, the idea was born to service these international depositors wanting to receive higher interest rates on their savings and Vivier was born.
How much potential market share can you achieve in next 3 years?
I see the market share for digital banking/FinTech firms growing exponentially over the next three years. The onset of these companies I find fascinating because of how it’s forced larger traditional retails banks to increase their pace of digital adoption. As established banks cannot stop client attrition to agile start-ups and niche players, these banks are now beginning to think more like disruptors, obsessing about consumer experience and using digital technology to avoid being totally outflanked by new entrants to the financial services sector.
What was the best book or series that you’ve ever read?
For me there are two books: the first may seem a hackneyed choice, but the book: How to Win Friends & Influence People, is an absolute wealth of information. Although written in a time past, Dale Carnegie’s advice on how to integrate technical knowledge, ideas, leadership skills and enthusiasm remains an inspirational and indispensable handbook for any entrepreneur today! The second is the book: Narrow Road by Felix Dennis, and this is not your usual get-rich-quick manual but rather a blunt and honest account of the mistakes he has made and the lessons he learnt the hard way. I consider it an absolutely essential read for anyone wanting to become an entrepreneur.
What are the best and worst purchases you’ve ever made?
The best purchase I have made was on an external hard-drive and you never know the day when that little device will become your best friend and savior! I would say the worst purchase has been my Netflix subscription and the amount of potential working hours I have lost to some good binge watching is countless.
What takes up too much of your time?
During the initial start-up phase of Vivier I made the mistake in thinking that due to the team being relatively small that there wasn’t a need for scheduled meetings. What soon became apparent was a significant uptake in email correspondence and Skype calls due to team members checking in with me the moment a question arose. I overcame this by scheduling regular meetings which allowed staff to group questions and discuss with me at one time.
What three pieces of advice would you give to college students/new startup business owners who want to become entrepreneurs?
1. To always seek input from others so as to aide you in reaching the best possible decision for your business/start-up. This is due to entrepreneurship for the most part being about taking calculated risks and you will always create better strategies if more facts and information go into the decision-making process.
2. Avoid the hard sell – most people deal with entrepreneurs on an extremely regular basis, so they are accustomed to glib sales talk and slick tactics. Be candid, transparent and honest about your product or service. Authenticity comes from an honest portrayal of yourself, i.e. why did you get into this company to begin with? That is where your best pitch lies.
3. This is going to sound overly simplistic but take the time to step away every so often even if it is a 30-minute walk and you will be pleasantly surprised as to what you can think through or of while being disconnected from work.
Who has impressed you most with what they’ve accomplished?
Without a doubt for me it’s: Elon Musk and this is due to his business philosophy, in that he has taken on the most pressing possible causes to give humanity the best chance of a good future through commercial ventures. His visionary ideas have been the subject of much skepticism and at times he has faced great adversity but has proved the naysayers wrong and prevailed every time.
Tell us about something you are proud of – about your greatest challenge.
I am most proud of the award I received in mid-2017 when I was the honored recipient of the Salute to Business Achievement Award which recognizes outstanding University of Missouri–St. Louis business alumni.
As for my greatest challenge I consider this when Vivier had to push back our timeline of expansion into Southeast Asia. What I hadn’t realized were the numerous challenges we would face, such as online connectivity being very low across much of the region. Also, many financial consumers there have never used an offshore financial services firm for their banking needs, and so the burden falls on the first movers like us to explain the benefits to the market.
How people should connect with you?