Meet Max Faldin, Founder & CEO of Digital Alternative to Traditional Banking: Silverbird

Silverbird is a leading business banking alternative for international trade in the UK, US, and EU. It allows its customers to manage online business accounts and transfer money abroad with ease.

We met Silverbird’s founder and CEO Max Faldin to talk about Silverbird and the future of fintech.

How Would You Describe Silverbird? Do You Position Your Company As A Digital Payment Platform Or A Digital Bank?

Silverbird is a smart digital alternative to traditional banking designed for international merchants. We focus on emerging regions with high potential in trade including markets in South-East Asia, Africa and Eastern Europe.

Today, despite the availability of instant connectivity, trade is not free. While merchants have access to customers via digital marketing, they’re constantly pressured by traditional banking. Their cross-border transactions are regularly blocked, and many deals are not happening for non-commercial reasons. Transaction costs are flying through the roof, and merchants can’t grow their businesses.

Our payments platform steps in where traditional banks fail strongest by supporting unbanked businesses to expand overseas. Silverbird believes trade should be free and global. And that the banking system serving it should be inclusive and digital.

At Silverbird, we offer easy and 100% online onboarding. All documents are provided digitally, no interview or branch visit is required. This liberates entrepreneurs from the unnecessary burden of leaving their home country and taking their eyes off their business.

Why Did You Start Silverbird, And What Inspired You To Do So?

Imagine having customers representing 2% of your revenue and 98% of your problems. You’d drop them immediately. At one point, this was the case for OCBC Bank, the largest bank in Singapore. These 2% revenue customers were the SMEs attempting B2B cross-border payments with constant compliance issues. No one wanted to support them.

When I learned this in 2016, it struck me. The problem was much bigger than just eCommerce in Singapore. It was global.

And it was about international trade. How do SMEs even bank?

Unless you are a $100m+ corporation, global banks just wouldn’t let you bank with them. They have no economic incentive to deal with all the paperwork required to do cross-border transactions. I dug down into the problem and started coming up with some ideas for its data-driven solutions.

But I didn’t have a real vision for it until two years later when I saw what the first neobanks were doing.

I’ve always been an e-commerce guy, and I knew first-hand how cumbersome border-crossing operations could be and how to use data to solve them. I also knew there had to be a solution to the issue of 2% revenue and 98% problems. I started my new company as the solution.

In 2018, I coupled several neobanks’ models with the ideas I’d been turning over in my head… Silverbird was born.

My ambition derives from this frustration at the broken banking system. I want to see a world in which SMEs anywhere can trade freely on the global market.

What Problem Does Silverbird Solve, And For Whom?

As I’ve mentioned before, Silverbird is committed to helping international merchants. Silverbird involves supplying borderless payments to global businesses through supporting 30+ currencies and payments to 120+ destinations worldwide.

With Silverbird, merchants manage their money remotely and trade globally. Transactions are processed in seconds, not days. In the past three years since Silverbird’s inception, we’ve developed payment capabilities to serve 120+ destinations worldwide and offer multi-currency accounts supporting 30+ currencies with no transaction limits.

Through our data-driven KYC procedures, we’re able to onboard legitimate exporters without the unnecessary bureaucratic burden of most traditional banks. We provide unparalleled transparency and traceability of payments wrapped in personal, trade-savvy customer service so that exporters worldwide can enjoy international banking tailored to their needs.

We are disrupting the fragmented banking system by bridging the gap for millions of SMEs around the world and supporting the thriving global community of international merchants.

Our business vision is a future in which the global banking system is inclusive. In which banks are on the side of customers, and compliance is data-driven and supportive. Where cross-border transactions are instant, and anyone from anywhere can participate. We believe that when trade is free and global, civilisations flourish, and we are committed to making that happen.

How Has The Fintech Landscape Changed In The Last Few Years?

Neobanks have become increasingly popular because of a growing number of customers transitioning from traditional banks to online-first platforms. With the advancement of neobank technology, accessing and managing accounts on the go has become effortless for customers. Now, they can conveniently perform transactions using these digital banking solutions.

Neobanks like Wise and Revolut, which hold substantial customer balances, are now able to generate extra revenue through high-interest rates. This change in the way they operate has transformed their business model. In addition to earning profits from unit economics, customer transactions, and card interchange, they can also benefit from the interest accrued on customer deposits. These possibilities were not feasible in earlier years.

With The World More Globally Connected Than Ever Before, What Are The Limitations People Face When It Comes To Cross-Border And Overseas Payments?

The two major limitations are account blockages and surging transaction fees. Cross-border transactions are frequently hindered, and many deals fail to materialize for non-commercial reasons. The soaring transaction costs pose a significant burden hindering merchants’ ability to expand and grow their businesses.

What Do You Believe The Biggest Challenges In The Next Five Years In Fintech Will Be?

Changing market conditions are greatly influencing the present and the future of the fintech industry. Currently, the Federal Reserve and its inflation policy hold the entire world captive, exerting significant influence over the global economy. I believe that this policy accelerates the revolution within the fintech industry, as there is a strong relationship between inflation and banks’ interest rates.

I predict that fintechs will be switching to a new business model, becoming more balance-centric. Neobanks will enjoy wider opportunities to become even more profitable as high-interest rates mean profitability for them. They will be able to invest more in product development and innovative solutions.