Podcast March 15, 2022

How To Enable Immigrants w/ Full Stack Banking Services

The financial problems of immigrants living abroad, but still needing to interact with their country of origin, were not being solved despite the huge influx of new banks all over Africa.

Recognizing this area of concern, Rian Cochran, Co-Founder at Lemonade Finance, jumped on the opportunity to provide a solution for in-need immigrants — stemming from issues faced as an immigrant himself.

Join us as we discuss:

  • An introduction to Lemonade Finance & what led to its founding
  • Going deeper & attacking regulation
  • What differentiates Lemonade Finance
  • What to expect in 2022

The digital transformation is helping to empower humans on the move more than ever before. Let’s dig deeper.

“With any industry related to regulators, you’ve got to start first by becoming compliant.” — Rian Cochran

A fascinating journey

After earning his business admin degree from the prestigious University of Pittsburgh, Rian has lived and worked around the world. From South Africa to Norway, he’s been dedicated to building financial opportunities for the underserved.

He spent almost 12 years with Opera Software, leading the development of strategic Fintech initiatives across Africa, India, and Mexico.

This vital experience in the consumer payments world led to Rian meeting his Lemonade co-founder, Ridwan Olalere.

Solving problems

Rian had been through the start-up process with Opera’s OPay — an African-based Fintech valued at $2B in 2021, according to TechCrunch.

Building the infrastructure and sourcing crucial partnerships in various countries isn’t a cakewalk, but Rian has the necessary expertise. He felt that they could pinpoint a challenge that needed solving.

While there are neo-banking services popping up all over Africa, there was still a hole when it came to providing financial services for the diaspora, specifically when it came to cross-border payments.

“Most immigrants can’t move wealth because it’s difficult to move or difficult to swallow the loss that you’re going to take.” — Rian Cochran

Money movement

The decision to emigrate is never easy. It’s made harder by the difficulty in moving assets across continents. Steep fees, painfully long transaction times, and arbitrary restrictions caused a heap of problems for people trying to hang on to their wealth while exploring new opportunities.

Rian and his partner started operating in the remittance field due to the licensing infrastructure they were already familiar with. “Once you look beyond what the user sees,” he points out, “it’s the engine that drives our backend.” It’s a vitally important feature for their customers.

Cross-currency transactions have been the bane of existence for digital nomads and other mobile populations, and Lemonade is diving into the breach by being the faster and cheaper solution.

The race to full-stack

Rian’s goal is to become a full financial services platform that can fill the banking void and work with multiple currencies without a hitch.

Their next step is the issuance of cards, but Rian says what they’re really focusing on is helping people establish themselves in their new country of residence, as quickly as possible.

It’s incredibly difficult for immigrants to build credit or even open up new accounts. Easing the transition with value-added services, Lemonade will be there to assist consumers all around the globe.

“If we can get the licensing, infrastructure, and control our own destiny, that benefits us in the long run.” — Rian Cochran

Besting the competition

Rian’s company is currently operational in Canada and the UK, and he’s pursuing another “tough nut to crack” — the regulatory jungle of all 50 United States.

It’s going to be a mountain of work, but it’s all for the benefit of their customers.

In January of 2022, Lemonade processed almost $30M in transactions. They’ve got an 80% retention rate and very healthy KPIs.

Becoming a one-stop shop

Many of their users in the UK have to send money to and from various countries in Europe for business or personal needs. While there’s plenty of banking options on the Continent, it can be tricky to move money efficiently between different financial institutions.

Lemonade’s North Star is becoming an all-in-one solution that enables people to control their finances and enjoy their assets at a crucial time in their lives.

After going live in the US and mainland Europe, Rian plans to branch out to other African countries besides Nigeria, Ghana, and Kenya. Asia, South America, Australia are also on the horizon.

Nigeria, as Africa’s most populous nation, desperately needs Fintech and neobanks like Lemonade to empower the populace and nurture their entrepreneurial dreams.

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