Interview with Steven Marshall, CCO at Crown Agents Bank

In simple terms, Crown Agents Bank moves money to, from, and across developing, emerging, and frontier markets. We are a UK regulated bank and are the partner of choice for many governments, development organisations, fintechs and payment companies around the world.

For many of the world’s fastest-growing economies, we reduce the cost and friction associated with moving money where it’s needed and provide vital access to the international market, by offering wholesale FX and cross-border payment services.

We pride ourselves on serving markets that most other players can’t as they don’t have the adaptability of a boutique bank like CAB or the unique expertise that we have built up over almost two centuries.


How did the company start?

Originally established in London in 1749, we have offered financial services since 1833. One of the most unique aspects of CAB is its heritage; it’s been operating for nearly two centuries and, as such, has strong relationships in some of the world’s hardest-to-reach markets.

This foundation of trust and access combined with extensive global networks means we can offer cross-border transaction banking solutions to meet the needs of clients around the globe. We specialise in regions like Sub-Saharan Africa, Asia-Pacific and the Caribbean and are a vital intermediary to these areas for many OECD countries.


What advice would you give to other aspiring entrepreneurs?

It can be tempting to flock to popular markets as an entrepreneur like the US and Western Europe, but these are often already saturated and competing against established financial infrastructure. From our work in Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia-Pacific, I’ve seen some of the most innovative financial solutions come from entrepreneurs who can see the enormous potential that underserved markets have to offer.

Mobile money is perhaps the most famous, but there’s a host of other exciting solutions being developed to address real-world problems for people without traditional bank access. Entrepreneurs in these regions are exploring how to build the financial services of tomorrow based on consumer behaviours, not legacy systems. My advice would be to look where you can have a real impact and build something new.

What can we hope to see from Crown Agents Bank in the future?

We are quickly becoming an FX and digital payments powerhouse, having started an ambitious programme of digital transformation a few years ago. One of the most exciting recent developments in our technology offering is our move into biometric payments and security with our new strategic partners, Paycode and Jumio.

We announced our partnership with Paycode, a South African fintech specialising in biometric payments, back in July and the goal is to reach 100 million unbanked individuals in
rural Africa with its solution. Jumio specialises in facial recognition technology which we will soon be using to support authentication for our pension clients around the world.

There are very few limits to our growth opportunities, on the back of our continued investment in our infrastructure. We want to build on the success we’ve already achieved, maximising the potential of technology to support the provision of low-cost affordable financial services in emerging and frontier markets.

We are regularly adding new currencies to our capabilities, so you can also expect to see us continue to expand geographically so that we can connect even more hard-to-reach markets to the global financial ecosystem. Most importantly, we will continue to focus on moving money where it’s needed most.