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The the largest fintech community in the world. Subscribe to our newsletter to stay up to date on the latest in news opinions, and all things financial technology.

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🎧 Podcast: Hey Fintech Friends ft Michael Sindicich (Navan)

"And one of the biggest advantages and huge announcements that we're making, is what we're calling the Navan Connect, where you can actually get this same technology with your Visa or MasterCard." - Michael Sindicich

🎧 Podcast: Hey Fintech Friends ft Michael Sindicich (Navan)
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‎Show Hey Fintech Friends!, Ep 🎧 Podcast: Hey Fintech Friends ft Michael Sindicich (Navan) - 12 Jun 2023



Fintechionary: 0.58

News: 1.38

Interview: 5.14

Quick Fire: 40.07

Signals: 44.30

Events: 46.50


Helen 0:00
Hey FinTech friends.

Hey FinTech friends. My name is Helen Femi Williams and I'm your host of Hey FinTech friends. I hope you're doing well. I know I am.

So let's talk about the structure of this podcast. We're gonna go through the FinTechionary, the news. And if you subscribe to The this week in FinTech newsletter, you're in luck because this is the audio version. Then we're going to have chat with this week's friend Michael Sindicich and then we'll go through signals and events. So hope you enjoy this episode.


According to Investopedia, a unicorn is what most people in the financial world call a startup that is privately owned with a valuation that exceeds $1 billion.2 Reaching unicorn status is a rare feat. In order to become a unicorn, companies must have an innovative idea, a clear vision for growth, and a solid business plan, as well as a viable way to get their message to venture capitalists and private investors.


Interview with Michael

As EVP & General Manager of Navan Expense Management, Michael is obsessed with creating the world's best travel payments platform while overseeing various aspects of the business including go-to-market strategy, product development, engineering, and operations. Prior to Navan Expense Management, Michael spent the last 4 years building and leading sales teams within Navan, most recently as VP of Enterprise Sales. Prior, Michael led sales teams at Apptimize (acquired by Airship) and was Co-Founder of financial brokerage, Hurley Brothers. Michael earned his Bachelor of Science degrees in psychology and biology with honors from UCLA.

Hi, Michael. Thank you so much for joining me on Hey FinTech friends. It's great to meet you. Where are you based?

Michael 5:22
I'm based in Palo Alto for this podcast. I live in San Francisco, California. But I typically come down to our headquarters maybe four or so times a week and then work from our SF office once a week. .

Helen 5:33
Um, which places better like would you prefer? ,

Michael 5:36
I think that commutes a lot better for San Francisco than, you know, going an hour down to Palo Alto. But I like the Palo Alto office a lot. The reason why I come down here is most of our exec team is down here. And we have a lot of meetings throughout the week. So I prefer to, to come down here and meet face to face with, with my co workers.

Helen 5:55
That's amazing. Because you kind of get the best of both worlds, you get to kind of have your life in San Francisco and then also Palo Alto. So if we go back a little bit, it would be good to kind of do I guess a little bit about you a little bit about Navan. And like if I if you were speaking to your non FinTech friends, like how would you explain the company and what you do?

Michael 6:15
Yeah, that's a it's a great question. And, you know, I don't think we do so deep FinTech that it's super hard to understand. But if I were to describe what Navan does, most, most people, you know, work at some point in their lives. And a lot of times you end up travelling or doing expense management.

And the way I like to describe our company is we like to make really great software business software that's designed for people. And what we mean by that is, in the past, I think a lot of software was designed in the workplace with a lot of friction. And it was mostly made for central teams to control and to basically, really make sure people are staying within the boundaries of what they're allowed to do as employees. And we started to see a lot of technology come into the workplace that made it easier and easier to do your jobs and reduce friction.

And, you know, examples of that would be zoom, or it would be slack, or some of these different tools out there. And when we look at what are some of the most friction, full pieces about working, booking, travel, managing your travel, making changes, getting support, while you're on the road, all the way to paying for your trips, or your expenses, ending up collecting receipts and filing your expenses, you know, over the weekend and reconciling and then managers needing to approve and then how do you sync that into the ERP and your accounting systems, there's a lot of friction there a tonne of friction there.

And what we do is we make amazing experiences for booking, managing travel and doing your expenses and paying for everything as it relates to work for employees. And it creates such a unique and amazing kind of unification there where the employees actually love using our tools.

And meanwhile, that creates a lot of automation and management for our central finance teams and teams that are administering Travel and Expense programmes. Because everyone loves using it. And everyone then stays within the policies, you get visibility into what people are doing. And you can see all of that in real time and manage your budget as a company, which is even more, you know, relevant now that there's a little bit of, you know, economic instability.

Helen 8:34
So you're kind of managing the end to end process of travel when it comes to work. And I have a question, this is such a, I guess it's an issue or not an issue that everyone kind of comes across when they're working or not an issue but something that a lot of people have to do not everyone has expenses.

Why did you feel like this was a problem that you felt like you wanted to solve?

Michael 9:00
you know, it started. In my earlier career, I was travelling for work, I started my career in sales. And even before that, like when I went to my first company, and I had an onboarding week, right, so I needed to go and travel and stay at a hotel and get the training and, and onboarding.

And I remember first of all, booking that travel was cumbersome on the legacy tools and it's super hard to even figure out what you can book you don't see all the relevant inventory you find cheaper prices when you go to websites with the airlines or the hotels.

So that part was really annoying, where it got insanely full of friction and almost awkward was that I needed to pay for my trip. So I ended up needing to call my mom and say hey, like you know, I need to travel for my new job and or my first job just graduated college and I need to front you know

Let's call it $1,000 for the flight and maybe $1,000, for the hotel for the week, how am I going to do that? Right. And it's pretty bizarre that companies actually make their employees or potential employees or new employees, front their own personal capital, on behalf of the business, right? We don't front our payroll or any other expenses, but we have to front whenever we spend money on behalf of the company.

And the reality of that is, you know, companies don't like to give out corporate cards to every single employee, they're worried about the control, they're worried that people are gonna go spend money, you know, erroneously. And it actually accounts for quite a lot of fraud and small businesses. The expensing process, so I kind of saw it firsthand when I entered the workplace just right away, it was it was booking making changes, I have to call the travel agency, they asked me, What's my record locator number? I say, I don't know what that is, I booked it with you. They say no, you didn't, you booked it on concur, go to your email, find the number.

At the time, when I joined, it was so obvious to me the vision that we were going after, and back then it was just the corporate travel piece. About four years ago or so, we saw a massive opportunity in the payments and expense side to go and to go and tackle. And so at the time, I was leading sales team. And then, you know, I had a conversation, our CEO and founder and he said, Hey, I want you to kind of take this small team, go into a back corner of the office and go build a brand new company within our company.

And come talk to us when you've got customers and product market fit. And, and you have something. And to me, that was like a really, really interesting opportunity of going from leading sales to actually figuring out how do you manage product and engineering and design and the marketing aspects. And I saw it, you know, early on at tripactions.

And I started a company in college. So I was a bit familiar with the whole entrepreneurship thing. And, you know, I was always kind of seeing myself as an entrepreneur. And so doing that was a was a pretty amazing opportunity for me that that allowed me to go dive in and do that. And so with to your question earlier of how do I explain what I do. I'm the EVP and GM of the expense business. So we call it an Navan expense, which is everything around payments, corporate cards, and Expense Management here at the company.

Helen 12:28
That's such a great description. And I feel like you guys are at this place where everyone can really understand and get on board, like everyone wants to travel, everyone, but a lot of people have to travel for work. And I even remember being a graduate and actually, weirdly enough, when I was a graduate, I did have a corporate card.

Although you'd hear like scandals of like other people doing crazy things of it. So I did have a corporate card straight out of university. While they didn't know that is great the thinking of it, but back to it. Now it's wild. But then actually, when I was promoted, I didn't have a corporate card.

Why the name Navam? Because like when I searched it, like a little town in Ireland comes up. Yeah. And I'm just curious, just before I ask a serious question, like why? Why Navan?

Michael 13:34
Yeah. So? Well, I guess first, the question is why rebrand? Right. And we, we were It's the different actions you take. And it was pretty obvious name. And, you know, we're sitting at a private valuation company and decided one day, let's let's rebrand. The name is one facet of it. But really, the thing that we saw was that we're building more and more different products.

We're building a huge platform. And it's not just corporate travel anymore. It's personal travel, it's groups and guests, it's meetings and events. It's VIP travel. And then you take in all the stuff we're doing around payments and expense, corporate cards, you know, the FinTech aspect, as well. And so we were looking for a way to basically kind of change the company and evolvewhich didn't cut it anymore into a rebrand. And we also saw it as a really unique opportunity to set the culture of the company to be who we are, it's a lot more fun and accessible. And when we look at the name Navan it stuck out to us for a few different reasons.

There's tactical and there's you know, bigger philosophical ones, but it kind of stands for navigation, right navigating your travelling expenses. It comes from avant guard, which is easy to use seamless, it's free. It's fun, it's really accessible. And you can read it frontwards and backwards. And part of this rebrand was us actually going down market. So typically, we were selling to companies, you know, let's call it 200, up to the 200 300,000, employee companies and more of an enterprise type sale.

But we've also launched product led growth, where even if you're one or two, five employees, you can come to the website, you can sign up, you can get underwritten in seconds, and you could start booking your travel and managing your expenses. And so that was kind of a shift and a pivot of the company.

Not that we're giving up or anything from the enterprise, but we wanted to make an offering that's so much more lighter and fun. And that's kind of what nirvana stands for. More tactically, too, if you look at like the way that it flows, it's a lot of arches, and it kind of, you know, looks like you're travelling through arches. If you look at the A's with the little squiggly, it looks like an aeroplane window, and stuff like that. So like you can go deeper and deeper and deeper and analyse you know, the the tactical things. But for us, it was kind of a new direction for the entire company and setting up a whole platform that does all the different things that we're we're starting to build out.

Helen 16:16
Yeah, so actually, I'm glad I asked that question, because you kind of answered the question. I was gonna say anyway, but I want to expand on it, because you've kind of gone through this rebrand. And also you kind of touched on the fact that like, you kind of started in travel, now it's expenses. And yeah, I guess I'm wondering, like, what, what does it look like next, like in 5, 10 years, because you kind of touched on the idea of like, personal travel or like travelling with friends, and stuff like that. So is that the area, you're kind of going into where it's kind of, you know, if I, if me and my friends go on holiday, and we're working out expenses, is that is that what we're looking at here,

Michael 17:00
I would say maybe in five to 10 years, right, more and more of the focus would be on on personal. But there and there is a big focus on personal travel today for the employees that are already using us in a corporate sense. Because we have your loyalty clubs, when you log into our platform and search for a flight or hotel, we know your past booking behaviour, it's something like 80% likelihood, you're going to book one of the top three options that we show you, because we're leveraging AI and ML to suggest things that we know that you would like to book that's within your company policy where your coworkers or friends are staying, and so it creates this seamless experience where we've got employees that use us for work.

And we're building such an incredible experience that people were saying, Can I use this for my personal trips to which I think that's the bar, it's like, if people go to it in their consumer life, then you know, you've built a really good corporate platform. And so that's the opportunity we're taking advantage. Now. I think the question about like, where we're going, we have a lot of work to do.

We're expanding really, really heavily into Europe, we acquired three companies within the last couple years. In EMEA, we just recently acquired a company in India. And I think this problem of travel and expense. And if you really want to completely automate the entire process, there's quite a lot of work to do. And, and that's where we're focused, I think you see a lot of other startups in the space, or companies that are doing something semi similar, and they're tackling so many different aspects.

But we don't feel that any of them are tackling it very well, they kind of do it and say check a box, and then they move on to the next thing, where we're going so deep into the travel payments and expense kind of categories. And we want to do it at a global scale. And we want to do it for companies that are one employee all the way to companies that are millions, or you know, a couple 100,000 If you look at some of the biggest, biggest companies out there

Helen 18:56
now that makes a lot of sense. You're trying to tackle this aspect of it first. And like you said, if it's good people are gonna use it in their personal life. I remember my travel expense systems I used at work and there was absolutely no way I wanted to use with a my personal life because that's so clunky.

Michael 19:13
You know, I mean, yeah, totally. And that's the that's the opportunity with FinTech here. You know, we didn't start a company and say we're a travel company. And when we started the expense product and you know, offering, we never said that we're a FinTech, we needed to get really deep into FinTech in order to create this amazing experience.

And if you're not familiar, what what our expense product does is when an employee swipes their card, we automatically capture the expense we check if it's within the policy because we know your HR system so we look at your department, cost centre region, subsidiaries all these different things.

We check the policy in the system in real time, and we use different clues so we know if you're on a trip or not, which may be cheap. changes the company's policy. So an employee might not be able to spend on a lunch, but all of a sudden, they're travelling now they have a per diem, that type of expenses, okay? And what we do in that real time is we reconcile that to the policy, we then say, okay, let's say it's a good expense, and it's approved, we know on your calendar, what the meeting was for, we know who the participants are. So we know if it's an external meeting or an internal meeting, we know the transaction because we actually issue the card. And that allows us to say,

. And what the employee does is they basically swipe the card, they get a notification, your expense is submitted, you're done. And then on the back end, because the finance team has set these rules upfront, nobody needs to go and say, I approve this expense, it's all done. It's already there, you've pre approved it, you've pre set it, and then we integrate into the accounting systems. So what we've effectively done is we've completely eliminated the process of expense management.

And sometimes, you know, your employer might ask you to upload a photo of a receipt, when you click that link, it immediately opens the camera, you take a photo, the OCR, you know, scans it within seconds, and again, the expense is done. And so that's why we went so deep into FinTech, because if we did the normal, I would say pretty boring and kind of lame approach, which is, you know, someone swipes a card, and either a few days later, it shows up in the expense platform, or you fronted your own money, but they print out a receipt, then you have to take a photo of that receipt and upload that back digitally, you have to code it yourself, your manager has to approve it. It's a really archaic process.

And, and by us actually getting deep into the FinTech area that allows us to issue cards and to be able to control that spend at the point of sale. And one of the biggest advantages and huge announcements that we're making, is what we're calling the Navan Connect, where you can actually get this same technology with your Visa or MasterCard.

So you don't even need to go and get a card from us. You don't need to get underwritten from us, we actually have patented technology to connect to the networks so that when your employees on your existing card programme, swipe the card, we do that same reconciliation of policy and put that onto that transaction and approve or deny the expense right there.

So it's a huge, huge innovation that, that we've now built, which doesn't make a company need to change their car to get underwritten by us. And of course, we're here to provide credit and we can give you, you know, our cards if you prefer. But we talked to a lot of companies, you know, you've got 1000s of huge enterprises, we've got hundreds of public companies already using our expense product. And they don't need a new bank, they don't need a new corporate card. They just want travel and expense to be automated and to have better systems there. So this is the new offering with Novant connect that we're announcing.

Helen 22:59
Congratulations, that sounds so interesting. I had someone on the podcast once say that they would stop working in FinTech, when it's known when their job is no longer needed.

And I feel like in the sense of what you're creating, I guess right now, when I think of expenses, or like you said, I think of like photocopying receipts, writing, like I spent, whatever, five pounds, or whatever in the coffee shop, and that is actually a job, or carved out as a job that someone has to do, whether they whether it's the PA or the grad, or whoever it is, or even just doing it yourself. And so you take out that but even from the other side, we've all these systems, the way they are, like, like you've said, are so clunky, that it's a whole system in itself, that's you, you put the expense in. So with an Navan Connect, you're kind of completely taking that just element out of it, completely cutting the middleman out of it. So in a sense, I guess what I was trying to say is that whole idea of expenses no longer exists. You know, I mean, you know, you no longer think of the concept of expenses.

Michael 24:00
Exactly. And and, you know, it's it's not that there's someone's full time job that does expenses for everybody. It's a load that every single employee who submits an expense or travel for work needs to bear and our opportunity. And what we're creating is that employees can focus now on the meeting that they're at, or the work that they're meant to be doing that they signed up for, not the administrative tasks of managing your travel and expenses.

So if we can automate this entire thing, it allows people to not sit down on a Sunday, take out all their receipts, photocopy them, code them and submit them. It allows the admins and the finance team not to need to chase receipts right? In my past companies, you know, you'd get something once a month. Hey, you have expenses you haven't filed, make sure you submit them so that you get paid back during the next payroll period. And it's just a lot of administrative burden to manage your travel and expenses that employees no longer need to bear when they use us.

Helen 24:59
So I I'd love to know a little bit more about navan Kinect, like how it came about why you decided to go in that direction? Like you kind of said, you know, it's because of what you're building like, but why? Why did why did you decide to kind of go in this direction with Lavon? Connect?

Michael 25:13
Yeah, it's a great question. So we we build great applications for for our customers. That's what we know how to do as a technology company. And we love when we can rely on partners and other institutions or companies who their focus is infrastructure, and, you know, providing these types of services.

So when we built our travel platform, we built a great application, we built a whole call centre and support system. But we pipe in the inventory from the global distribution system, and other players, when we decided to, you know, even build our technology company, we built it on AWS, which helps support the cloud infrastructure.

And when we, when we decided to build expense management, we went pretty deep on the FinTech area. But a lot of our partnership is with companies like Stripe, and with Plaid, and with credit, safe to evaluate credit. And and we love when we can find these types of partners that allow us to focus on what we do best.

And when we were, you know, continuing to sell and work with companies, there are sometimes when a company says, I love your expense product, I love your travel product, but I've got a really good relationship with my bank. And we have these credit cards rolled out, and it would be a hassle to change all of our credit cards, but they liked the idea of actually controlling policy, which then allows them to give out more cards and be more comfortable with, you know, let's say new grads having corporate cards, but they don't do it because they can't control the policy on that card. And so we thought, you know, if we want to build a big, long, you know, sustainable business, we can continue to do our own cards and get deeper and deeper into FinTech, and we're definitely going that path as well.

But if we want to accelerate this, and we want to leverage our partners and big banking institutions, we can actually partner with them to be able to have the same experience by connecting to the networks and working with the banks in order to create this together. And I think there's a lot of fintechs out there, and, you know, in Silicon Valley, and things like that, that, that think that they can, you know, take down the banks, and they want to create a new bank. And for us, it's not what we do.

It's not what we're good at, it's not what we're focused on. And we thought, well, what if we can actually partner instead of going and competing directly with these banks, and the banks are excited with it, the network's are excited with it. And, and I think our customers are as well, because of those treasury and banking relationships, because they don't want to switch the card if they don't need to. But they want to have the same benefits that we have. And also, the aspect about going global, big banks are really good at and they have years of experience and, you know, expertise and expanding into global markets. And our customers tend to be, you know, from small, but also to very, very large. And they have programmes and cards and all these different countries around the world. And in order to support that, instead of us going and building our own issuing in these different currencies, we can actually partner with banks and be able to support that too. So there's quite a lot of, you know, different reasons, I definitely named a few. But those are some of the reasons why we were looking at, you know, going and building this new Navan Connect.

Helen 28:32
Yeah, no, it definitely feels like you're trying to you're looking at what you're good at, and other bits that you're not good at, you're you're kind of doing it way, which makes sense. Because we've what we've what your whole business is about, it's about like kind of plugging into like, other people's systems. So why not focus on that, and let other people focus on the bits that they can do, which allows you to kind of, like, expand so quickly. So that's amazing.

Michael 28:56
Yeah, I was gonna say, I think it's timely, right. Like, we had an unfortunate event with with Signature Bank, and, you know, a lot of the regional banks are struggling sometimes, especially in this economy. And, you know, customers want to know that their money is safe. And so put it with a startup or put it with a big institution and a banking partner that you've got a legacy relationship with, you know, it's kind of a no brainer for some of our customers, and that's what they want to do. So I think it's a timely solution as well.

Helen 29:28
I'm gonna move on slightly, like, is there like a FinTech fact or something that you've learned or like you want to share, with the audience?

Michael 29:42
Yeah. I mean, we can talk about, you know, some of the stats around expense management and that 20% or 21%, of of fraud in small businesses is related to expense management and the fact that, you know, 90% of expenses have errors in them and It takes, you know, on average $58 to process a single report. That's, that's more Novant focus. I think we're from a macro perspective, and maybe more interesting to more and more people in the audience is, in November 2021, six of the top 10, publicly traded fintechs had negative operating margins. And as of December 2022 10, out of 10 of them of the top, you know, publicly traded fintechs have positive operating margins. And I find that stat incredibly interesting, it just really illuminates the switch to you need to be profitable, you need to build a healthy business.

And I think, you know, during the pandemic, before the pandemic, we had a lot of companies that were grow, grow, grow at all costs. And and I think now it's about growing very fast, but in a very sustainable way and having positive operating margins. And that's a stat that I recently read that I thought was incredibly interesting.

Helen 31:00
Yeah, I mean, what do you think has driven this shift? Why do companies feel this pressure to be profitable? Or do you think there's, is it r do you think because of all the things that have happened in like, this year, slash last year, we don't have any sort of space for companies that aren't actually building something useful and sustainable?

Michael 31:21
I think it's it's pressure from, you know, the investors and the public markets to make sure that companies are showing profitability, or a path to that in a much more scrutinised way than in the past. I think in the past, it was, you can grow and you can kind of excuse some of these things, and you'll go and fix them later. But when the economy gets shaky, no one wants to hear the story about fixing it later, they want you to fix it now.

And build up calm is actually a really good example of that they were the number two highest publicly traded company, and in November 2021, they had negative operating margins. I'm looking at it here, it's about negative 12%. There now, I think it's number six, there number eight now, and they've got 4% Positive operating margins.

But you've got a lot of other players that are no longer valued anywhere near as high as they were before. And these other players have come in that show positive operating margins, now being at the top 10. So it's just an anecdote, but it really shows the emphasis on making sure that you're building a sustainable and profitable business in today's economy.

Helen 32:31
Yeah, and I think that just the overall attitude towards like businesses, or startups, or like, I guess, tech led businesses has changed as well, where maybe before it was about the idea and like you said, now people are like, where are the returns?

And that kind of leads me on to I'm gonna ask you like a couple, like more personal questions about about your career and stuff. And I'm just looking at questions from the previous guests. And I think your your knowledge is like quite wide, vast. And so I'm a question that was previously asked was, like, How'd you learn about this space? Because like you said, with Navan, you had to kind of look and understand FinTech and like, understand that offering as part of the overall travel, the overall travel business. So how do you learn about FinTech but more broadly, like your area, because no one goes to school? I guess, learning thinking like I'm gonna work and travel expenses, or maybe you did actually, let me not assume.

Michael 33:29
No, I didn't. I didn't, I was actually pre med. And then I started a company and realised it really like entrepreneurship and building businesses and sales and things like that. But

Helen 33:41
wait, what was the company that you started? If you do? Yeah, sure. It was

Michael 33:44
it was an insurance brokerage, a couple of friends and I decided that, you know, my mom was an insurance agent. And she she ran her own business, and we were, you know, normal college kids, trying to figure out how we can make some money in the summer.

So we decided, you know, why don't we just start an insurance brokerage, and we're in UCLA, which is near Beverly Hills. So we said, well, what if we could sell like car insurance, life insurance, health insurance, , it'd be a pretty interesting market to go and do that. So we we started a company and we ended up having something like 40, licenced agents, you know, with all which were all of our friends in in UCLA, and stuff like that, and we were, we're selling this so that was kind of my first four way foray into into startups.

But to answer your question on, like, how do we become, you know, knowledgeable about the space. For us, it's not about necessarily really learning the travel space or the FinTech space. And I won't claim that I'm an expert by any means. I don't think you know, any, any of our earlier employees. Well, we've definitely hired experts in these different spaces.

But for us, I think it's a huge advantage actually, to not come from the space to look at a problem and say there's got to be a Better Way, how would we do it if we could start it from scratch. And that's kind of what led us down these paths. It was never, let's be a FinTech, because Fintech is cool. And which, which is definitely cool. But you know, it's, it's, it's not the it's not the reason why we started this, we saw a problem from customers that we were trying to serve. And we said that our mission is to make the entire Travel and Expense process automated and seamless and enjoyable for employees at work to give them really good experiences with products that are designed for people.

And in doing that, that's what led us down this path of, okay, we really need to understand travel in depth, and we need to hire people that know this space, we really need to figure out FinTech and hire people that understand payments and, and you know, the entire FinTech landscape. And so that's kind of what drives us and forces us to go and learn. But it's really this relentless focus on our customer, which a lot of times is the end user and employee, but a lot of times it's the EAA, it's the admin, it's the controller, it's the accounting team. It's the it's the CFO, and that's what's led us down this path. Yeah, that's,

Helen 36:11
that makes a lot of sense. Like you're like, like, I feel like what has come across quite well in this talk is like, you focus on the bits that you know, and if you don't you get people or companies that do what keeps you up at night, professionally. And personally.

Michael 36:27
No, I think I think what keeps me up at night, is serving the millions of people that are using our products today. And then the billions of people who are not yet using our products, right? And it's it's about creating that that amazing experience. And you know, I can say, really earnestly like when COVID hit, right, and the pandemic hit, and there was absolutely no more travel in the industry. And we were like this startup with 1000 employees saying like, Oh, my God, what are we going to do?

Or, you know, the SVB crisis that we recently had those those like, we're we're pretty good at, at handling. And we generally pick a path and go and stick to it and get it. But I think what keeps me up at night is like a few months ago, I have this anecdote, I was leaving the airport, and I put my expense, my Nevada expense card in the metre. And, and I got the receipt, and I clicked the notification, I wanted to make sure my expense was good. And there was a bug. And it took forever to open up the camera and it took me to the wrong page. And like that's a night where I didn't sleep. Because that means that we had our customers that were experiencing this bug, which is anti our vision of making this thing seamless and automated. And for me, that's something that we control that that is a problem. And like that keeps me up at night, you know, dealing with some of the crisis's that are going on there. They're definitely hard. They're, you know, they're they're difficult to manage. But generally we know how to execute. And when we have a single focus, when there's a time of crisis, we generally execute very well against that. But and those are things that you don't control. So the things that we do control that that that go wrong. That's what keeps me up at night. from a work perspective.

I would say personally, I'm getting married very, very soon. And so lately that's been keeping me up at night and thank you just the planning and we're doing it in Croatia. So it's you know, it's a lot of travel and planning for a wedding where we're not really seeing the venue or the the places we can be a bit stressful so we're working on that right now.

Helen 38:42
Amazing. Yeah, that does sound stressful. Why Croatia? You from there or just like beautiful destination, or both?

Michael 38:51
Yeah, my my family's from there. And my sister lives there with her husband and and son. So we thought it would be an amazing way to coerce all of our friends and family to go on a great vacation this summer. In a great destination.

Helen 39:04
Yeah, that sounds Yeah, I mean, I've been to Croatia once it was with University sports trip. I can't even do sports. netball. I was actually very bad at netball. But I managed to convince them to take me on this sports trip.

Yeah, until the until the it came the day where I actually had to play netball. And I didn't even understand the rules of the game. I was just there for the holiday and the vibes and you know, just you know, to keep you know, team morale, not for actual sports. So we didn't do very well with the team. Bubit's beautiful. Outside of my traumatic experience where I actually had to play Croatia was actually really beautiful.

Like it's really really nice. The islands and stuff. Yeah. That's cool. Okay, so now we're gonna do my quick fire round. Okay, I'm just gonna ask you questions that have nothing to do with fintech. Are you ready? Yeah.

Would you rather always be 10 minutes late or always be 20 minutes early

Michael 40:07
20 minutes early

Helen 40:08
Would you rather have skin that changes colour based on your emotions or tattoos appear all over your body depict depicting what you did yesterday?

Michael 40:17
I would do the changing the colour, pretty transparent.

Helen 40:21
I think the tattoos will be fun.

Would you rather be the absolute best at something that no one take seriously? Or be average at something well respected?


Absolute Best?


Would you rather stay the age you are physically forever? Or stay the way you are now financially, forever?




Would you rather be able to speak any language or be able to communicate with animals?


Or animals


Would you rather change the outcome of the last election or get to decide the outcome of the next election?

Michael 41:02
Get to decide

Helen 41:03
Would you rather have super sensitive tastebuds or super sensitive hearing theory? Would you rather sleep in a dog house or let stray dogs sleep in your bed?

Michael 41:13
Probably the dog house?

Helen 41:14
And last but not least, if I gave you 10,000 bananas, and you couldn't sell them, eat them? Or give them away? What would you do with them?

Michael 41:25
I couldn't sell them eat them or give them away to people or anyone?

Michael 41:30
Well, could I leave them somewhere that people could take them if they wanted it was kind of giving giving away? I guess the only thing to do is throw them away. You know, I don't know. Maybe make some banana shakes and buy a really big freezer and you know, have banana shakes for life?

Helen 41:47
I'm gonna say no, because I'm gonna, I'm gonna, I'm gonna say they're still eating them, even if you're freezing.

Michael 41:53
So what else? What else? Can you I'm curious what other people have asked. I think the only solution is to throw them away.

Helen 41:58
Build a house out of I don't know how you build a house out of Bananas. But I don't know. But yeah, okay, cool. Well, we've kind of got to the end. I've got like, one last question.

What what do you think I should ask the next friend of the show?

Michael 42:25
What was the most difficult time in your professional career? Or what was? What was your Oh, shit moment in your career or company, I think make for really interesting conversations.

Helen 43:54
Amazing, thank you. I think that's a really great place to end.. Thank you so much, Michael, for coming on for telling me about an Navan. And also Navan Connect. Yeah, thank you. Thank you for coming on. Yeah,

Michael 44:14
Thanks for having me. It was it's really fun and definitely different at the end with the rapid fire questions.

Signals: The biggest winner of BNPL is... Mastercard?

It turns out that BNPL adoption is still on the rise, now accounting for 2.8% of all retail eCommerce payments. The BNPL market is forecasted to grow to $3.7 trillion by 2030 as shoppers ditch credit cards for lower-interest payment methods, as 15% of consumers report already having done in the past few months.

Apple joined the BNPL chat with Apple Pay Later because it's Apple, and duh. Apple Pay made up only half a percent of Apple's total revenues last year and Pay Later isn't designed to be much more profitable; it does, however, position Apple to take a major stake in BNPL's growing adoption and steer this inertia towards core Apple products.

There's a silent winner in this launch who will gain core product adoption and net a higher profit: Mastercard.

The major card networks are making a move into BNPL, and now the race is on for these players to capture BNPL payment volumes on their own schemas– and reap the higher fees that come with them.

Let's dive into Apple Pay Later, and the emerging role that card networks are playing in BNPL's future.