June 24, 2024

Fintech deep dive with Tal Schwartz - and why Clearco's Invoice Funding is an exciting product for the US market

Samantha Lloyd

Clearco works with financial, business, operations, and marketing leaders to discover funding that works for their ecommerce brand. We've had the pleasure of sharing perspectives and trends from Irene de Gooyer-Collins, a strategic CFO at Growth Partners to Steve Hutt, host of the Ecommerce Fastlane podcast. All offer various insights into finance, ecommerce, and how technology bridges to two.

Today, we get the perspective of Canadian financial technology (fintech) expert and leader, Tal Schwartz. Tal is the host of Canada’s largest fintech events and writes the most popular publication with over 10,000 subscribers, Canadian Fintech Newsletter.

Tal, talk to us about your career so far - what put you on the path to land in fintech?

Tal: I’ve always been a fintech nerd! In 2016, I helped launch the Canadian Lenders Association (CLA) and grew it into Canada’s largest financial services trade group.  Following CLA, I became a Product Manager (PM) at the largest financial services price modelling company in North America.  Both as a PM and as a trade group, I did a ton of writing. Eventually, that writing turned into the highly-subscribed, Canadian Fintech Newsletter.

Talk about Canadian Lenders Association and why it’s an important part of the Canadian financial ecosystem:

Tal: The Canadian Lenders Association (CLA) is Canada’s largest financial services trade group. We have over 300 corporate members including fintechs & banks of all sizes.  The CLA plays an important role in unifying Canada’s fintech industry, advocating for Canadians borrowers, and providing research on the industry. If you’re a lender or a company that services the lending industry, the CLA is for you. The Canadian Lenders Summit is the largest lending conference in the country. Over 800 industry leaders attend that event every year on November 6th in Toronto.

Further, in partnership with the CLA, there are other financial technology events hosted in Canada. The events I run have a goal of bridging banks and financial institutions with technology solutions. Our next event in September is the Sustainable Finance Summit where over 250 banks, credit unions, lenders, investors and fintechs to advance Climate Risk Stress Testing and Sustainable Finance in Canada.

I am constantly running events where we can connect leaders in finance and banking with future-thinking technology leaders.

Tal Schwartz interviewing Clearco's Andrew Curtis at Collision

Why is it important to write Canadian Fintech Newsletter?

Tal: Canada is a rapidly growing market with one of the world strongest financial sectors, yet its fintech industry is constantly overshadowed. I started the Canadian Fintech Newsletter to showcase the innovation happening within Canada and help the community get connected.

The more we celebrate homegrown founders, the easier it will be for the next wave of Canadian innovators to build big businesses here. You can subscribe to the Canadian Fintech Newsletter here and every Monday morning you’ll get a short breakdown of the most important industry news.

What’s been your favourite Canadian fintech news lately?

Tal: I find bank licensing an extremely interesting and confusing topic in Canada. We have a small number of very large banks, with a strong history of consolidation. What we don’t have are many small banks (like the US does) nor do we have many examples of new bank charters being granted. 

But this is starting to shift. Canadian fintechs like Koho are in the late stages of becoming a bank. Other fintechs like Wealthsimple are finding creative ways to offer financial products without needing to receive a bank license. And companies like Synctera and Neo Financial, are helping licensed banks “rent out” their charter to help other fintechs create their own bank-like products. 

Where do you think Canadian fintech is headed?

Tal: I think we’ll soon be entering an era where building a financial technology company or startup becomes a lot easier. For a few reasons:

  1. In the 2000s when you wanted to launch a software business, you needed to raise significantly simply to support non-operating costs, such as server space and hardware whereas today it is much easier to stand up a solution at a fraction of the cost
  2. Regulation in Canada is trending towards pro-fintech policy changes with moves towards open banking and payments modernization
  3. Banks are becoming more receptive to partnering with fintechs

What side of fintech interests you most and why: financial or technology or the bridge between the two?

Tal: I think I’m pretty squarely in the middle. As a Product Manager, my job was to help Canadian banks build out their product and pricing strategies - it doesn’t get much more financial than that. But in my writing, I love covering more traditional software businesses as well as government policy development. Fintech forces you to be multidisciplinary, and that’s what I think makes it such an interesting industry, 

What makes you excited about Clearco and its mission to provide access to funding for ecommerce, from a fintech perspective?

Clearco is exciting to me and to the financial technology ecosystem for two reasons:

  1. It was the original revenue-based financing fintech. Being the first to an industry means that you have to write the playbook yourself - from technology stack, to growth, to government relations.
  2. Clearco is part of a very exclusive club of Canadian fintech exporters. Most household names in the industry are consumer-facing applications used within the country. But business-facing platforms such as Clearco, Shopify, Wave, and others are known even better outside of Canada than within, which is a huge win for the Canadian economy and the credibility of the sector.
Clearco's CEO Andrew Curtis and Tal Schwartz at Collision

Give us a “day in the life” snapshot of your job:

Tal: The thing I love most about my job is how social it is. I spend all hours of the day on Linkedin, chatting with founders, reading their op-eds, and connecting with interesting folks in the industry. 

In the real world, I go to a ton of industry events and host many of my own. Then, every Monday morning, I wake up nice and early, make a cup of coffee, go through all of my notes from the week, and draft up the weekly edition of Canadian Fintech Newsletter.

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Samantha Lloyd
Director of Marketing, Clearco

Samantha Lloyd is the Director of Marketing at Clearco. A longstanding marketer in the business-facing technology industry, Samantha focuses on accelerating startup and transformative growth at companies. In her free time, you can find Samantha dreaming of the ocean.