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LTW speaker spotlight: GoCardless founder Hiroki Takeuchi

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With just one week to go until London Tech Week, it’s time to learn more about the speakers who will be taking to the stage at the Olympia exhibition centre. As an official media partner, UKTN is shining a spotlight on London Tech Week’s stellar lineup of 2024 speakers. First up is Hiroki Takeuchi, CEO and founder of payments company GoCardless.

Takeuchi co-founded GoCardless in 2011 at age 23 alongside Tom Blomfield and Matt Robinson. The London-headquartered company hit unicorn status in 2022 after a $312m raise gave it a valuation of $2.1bn.

Ahead of London Tech, UKTN caught up with Takeuchi to talk open banking, the market’s shift away from ‘growth at all costs’, and the biggest expected themes from this year’s event.

1. What’s the London tech scene’s biggest competitive advantage?

Hiroki Takeuchi: It’s hard to boil this down to a single advantage. London has a lot of talented people and is still able to attract people from many places around the world. More specifically for fintech, the UK financial regulator has been fairly progressive and forward-thinking. One of the FCA’s [Financial Conduct Authority’s] three objectives is to promote effective competition and I believe they’ve helped enable a lot of innovation. As an example, open banking technology is something we believe is, and will continue to be, fundamental to our organisation’s offering.

The UK’s regulatory-driven approach, compared to more market-driven strategies such as in the US is largely responsible for why this country has been viewed as progressive and provides a roadmap that other countries can now replicate.

2. If you could pick one way to improve London’s tech sector, what would it be?

HT: While it’s true that open banking has come a long way, with a record of 14.5m open banking payments made in January, there is an opportunity to accelerate its development. This is important because open banking has the potential to create a lower-cost alternative to cards for businesses while improving the payment journey for consumers.

But for this to reach mass adoption we need to address a few fundamentals, notably ensuring that all elements of the ecosystem are pulling in the same direction. We’ve spent hundreds of hours discussing these issues with banks and the regulators – landing on the right solutions will be critical to the success of open banking in the UK.

3. It’s been a challenging couple of years for the tech market. How do you see the rest of 2024 playing out?

HT: It seems that the zero interest rate environment is permanently over and as a result the market has shifted away from ‘growth at all costs’. It’s all about profitable growth now and the businesses that have a proven track record of generating revenue sustainably will do the best for the rest of 2024, and beyond.

4. What do you expect to be the biggest themes coming out of this year’s London Tech Week?

HT: AI seems to be a theme that runs throughout the entire week, and I’m especially interested in the opening-day panel on AI applications across fintech. We’ve been using machine learning, a subset of AI, for a few years to help our customers increase their payment success rates and protect against fraud, so I’m curious to hear how other companies are using it.

For me, you shouldn’t get too excited about new tech for the sake of it. The real test is whether you can use it in a way that brings genuine value to your customers.

You can see Takeuchi speak on 11 June at 09:50 in a panel discussion titled ‘Fintech’s Influence on the Future of Finance’

Book your London Tech Week pass here.

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