Sept. 17, 2021

155: Vision | Sophie Guibaud and OpenPayd

155: Vision | Sophie Guibaud and OpenPayd

Sophie Guibaud is the Chief Growth Officer at OpenPayd and she’s spent the last 10 years designing and executing the go-to-market of banking-as-a-service (BaaS) and embedded finance propositions in Europe, building teams and operations from scratch, and integrating financial services into customers’ existing products to create new revenue streams. We talk through Sophie’s entrepreneurial journey to date, some real-world applications of embedded finance, the benefits of her extracurricular activities with podcasts and advisory boards feeding her creativity….and her past life as a competitive boxer!


Sophie Guibaud on how she talks about embedded finance:

“Embedded finance is about giving the ability to companies to provide financial services at the point of contact with their customers. It's important because people don't want to go to their bank, or even their app, to do their finances. They want to access financial services, wherever and whenever they need it. This is what embedded finance does - enable you to consume payments, loans, international transfers, wherever you need it, when you need it.”

On Sophie’s entry point into startups:

“What I learned from the early experiences in my career is my love for startups. I always thought I would work in finance, as I was really passionate about numbers. I saw myself in wealth management, enabling people to make the most of their money for the future and for their family.”

“But then, I did an internship in wealth management, and realized that it was not quite my profile, because sometimes it involved selling things to people who didn't understand what they were buying.”

“So, I ended up doing mergers and acquisitions (M&A), where I was basically fundraising for startups and investing the money of the partners of the M&A firm into startups. That experience was definitely the beginning of my love for startups.”

On turning up in Silicon Valley in 2011 to explore the startup world at the invitation of a friend of a friend:

“I said to people that I’ve come over from Europe and I want to explore what makes Silicon Valley so special.  I had to buy a camera because back then we couldn't do videos with our phones, and I reached out to 50 or 60 people and interviewed them at their offices.”

“I met with someone at PayPal, I met with Ben Parr [who now runs the VC Rostrum Capital], I met with 500 Startups. I met with so many people in the ecosystem and put those videos into a blog, and that got me my first job in startups at Hello Fresh, because it showed them that I could do business development pretty intensely.”

On her key learnings in her first startup experience with Hello Fresh as part of the Rocket Internet startup incubator and builder:

“In the first 10 days, we had built the proposition and got our first 10 customers.  It was really intense, but you learn to do things which you have never done.  After the first 10 days, I became Head of Marketing, and I had to go buy ‘Marketing for Dummies’, as I had done six years in finance and had never done marketing.  My first learning was to go fast and not worry about getting things perfect, but just get things done.”

“I also learned to play with the uncomfortable, do things you have never done, learn on the job and not push back, just think that you will figure out a way to do it. And it's what I did.”

On her entry point into fintech in the early days of banking-as-a-service with Bankable:

“With Bankable, we were essentially creating propositions with what we had and pitching it to people that didn't know what they needed or wanted.  It was at the time of the whole beginning of neobanks, and neobanks actually needed banking-as-a-service.”

“I worked with the team to reposition our offering from prepaid cards to an API platform enabling others to launch financial services propositions.”

On one of Sophie’s key learnings at Fidor:

“There were so many things involved with learning to set up an international subsidiary by myself in an international context in a language [German] which is not mine. It all worked very well, and everybody was really welcoming, but just the sheer complexity of doing that was a new level for me in my learning curve.”

On expanding into embedded finance with OpenPayd:

“When we first started talking, OpenPayd were so close to the vision I had for banking-as-a-service and also for embedded finance. The term ‘embedded finance’ wasn’t really used at that point, but I had been talking about the concept since the Bankable days, which is giving non-financial companies the ability to provide financial services to customers.  This is definitely where we’re headed.”

“We don't need banks as the front-end.  We need banks to help operate financial services and do what they do well.  I have always been an advocate for all banks to go into banking-as-a-service, and that was my vision for the future when I started with OpenPayd”.

“What we have realized by talking to customers is that they want one point of integration, one aggregator to manage with one contract and one API, but with all of the services behind it.  Overall, the core proposition of OpenPayd is to enable organizations to use and offer financial services to their customers easily in a regulated, compliant and scalable way.” 

On the benefit of Sophie’s ‘side-hustles’ with advisory boards and podcasts:

“They feed me, and that's the reason why I would never stop them. That's the reason why they’re a total part of me and my job and my evolution, even if they look like side-hustles, as things like Beyond Fintech enable me to learn from experts in their fields.”


Episode title inspired by ‘Vision’ by Travis Scott

Get in touch with Sophie Guibaud and check out OpenPayd to learn more

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Sophie Guibaud

Chief Growth Officer, OpenPayd