Published: March 29, 2019
A conversation with Mike Sigal, Partner at 500 Startups Fintech Fund and Co-Founder of Upside Partners, about his latest venture, 20022 Labs
ISO 20022 - the global messaging standard that allows rich data to travel with electronic payments - plays a foundational role in Canada’s payments Modernization initiative as well as similar initiatives around the world. Central to unlocking the potential of this standard is wide market adoption - it’s the network effect.
Mike Sigal is passionate about this subject. A partner at 500 Startups Fintech Fund, Co-Founder of Upside Partners and the creator of SWIFT’s Innotribe Challenge, Mike’s latest venture, 20022 Labs, is all about bringing together a global community of financial institutions, corporations, vendors, investors and fintechs to demonstrate, experiment and validate the benefits of ISO 20022 adoption.
We had the chance to chat with him about this exciting project.
20022 Labs sounds like an experiment in action. What is it and why is it important?
While many organizations around the world have shown support for ISO 20022, meaningful adoption still needs to happen. To foster and accelerate adoption, we need to move from talking about ‘what is ISO 20022’ to answering key questions that influence adoption like ‘what can ISO 20022 do for my business,’ ‘how and when will I see financial returns’ and ‘where do I find the qualified resources that will reduce the risk on my investments.’
20022 Labs is a non-profit, global, educational resource aimed at supporting all stakeholders in the market. For the demand side, such as corporations and financial institutions that need to invest in modernizing their systems, the resource will be a cost effective and time efficient way to source answers to key questions that drive adoption and investment strategies. For the supply side, such as infrastructure and software providers, startups, consulting firms, and even individual professionals, the intent is to offer them an open platform to accelerate their returns on market education and customer development investments. And, for policy makers, the goal is to provide an effective new way for them to engage stakeholders across the market to gain input on trends shaping the ecosystem, such as open banking.
Have you had a lot of interest in 20022 Labs? How has the marketplace reacted?
Indeed, we have. We initially thought 20022 Labs might be of interest to large stakeholders in the Canadian market only, mostly because it is behind many other G20 markets when it comes to payments modernization and open banking. But, as we’ve socialized and validated the idea, we’ve been surprised by the level of interest from a broader range of global stakeholders. Whether from the supply, demand or policy making side of the market, there is an appreciation from historical precedents of what it takes to make new standards work. It’s clear that the idea of an open, neutral organization that provides education, fills the information gap between supply and demand - and syndicates the costs of doing so across multiple organizations - is very exciting to them.
What inspired you to get involved?
As an investor and a corporate innovation strategist, over the last several years I’ve had the privilege to work with hundreds of startups, financial institutions, and other market stakeholders on a one-on-one basis to help them understand and take advantage of the digital transformation of financial services. But at heart I’m an entrepreneur, so the opportunity to start an organization, and empower a group of smart passionate people, to address a big, impactful mission in a scalable way is incredibly rewarding. So the Lab is a way — by working to accelerate the evolution of the market for what we call ‘dataful’ payments —for me to create something with lasting global and positive societal impact.