Andrew Doyle, CEO of NorthRow: “AI and big data are transforming how financial institutions operate”

We think any interview that kicks off with the answer “A lot!” is worth doing, and so it proved in our chat with Andrew Doyle, CEO of AML compliance software provider, NorthRow.

Perhaps it’s because Andrew’s firm works at the cutting edge of cybersecurity: anti money laundering. When you’re that close to the green stuff, things always get interesting. Keep reading for his predictions on what’s to come this year and next, and why cryptocurrency remains such a hot topic.

We also asked Andrew how he came to be CEO of Northrow. “I’ve worked in the global tech sector for over 30 years,” he explained, with experience across a wide range of roles and for everything from international businesses to early-stage companies. “I now specialise in working with scale-up companies in the cloud, SaaS and AI space and joined NorthRow in 2019 to supercharge its growth.”

As a man who’s well aware of the devastating effects that fraud and other forms of economic crime can have on individuals and companies, he’s keen to put all his hard-earned knowledge to good use. And was kind enough to share some of it here.

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What do you think traditional finance and banking companies can learn from disruptors in the fintech space?

A lot! Firstly is the need to embrace innovation and new technologies. Traditional finance and banking businesses must learn to adopt and embrace digital technology in order to improve the customer experience and their accessibility. This will be essential for their future growth and even their survival.

The other thing to learn is the importance of being agile. Disruptors can quickly adapt to changing market needs and traditional firms can learn a lot from this approach in order to remain competitive.

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In what ways is artificial intelligence impacting the fintech sector?

It’s already supporting the automation of routine tasks and helping improve customer service. Chatbots and virtual assistants are now commonplace, designed to streamline the customer experience by answering everyday transactional questions and gathering information. I’ve no doubt we’ll see AI rolled out across a lot more than customer service in the next year or so.

What are some of the biggest regulatory challenges affecting the fintech sector?

Regulations around the movement of money are ever-evolving which can make it difficult for fast-paced and fast-growing fintechs to keep up. While this regulation is absolutely necessary to protect customers, businesses and the economy, if not managed properly it can stifle innovation in the fintech sector, not to mention lead to hefty fines and reputational damage for non-compliance.

Which geographical hubs around the world are leading the charge when it comes to fintech innovation? 

From what I have seen and read, leading global hubs for fintech innovation include London, Silicon Valley, Singapore, Hong Kong and Berlin too, each offering a unique blend of regulatory support, talent, investment and technological infrastructure.

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How has the role of the finance department changed with the advent of fintech?

Fintech has transformed the role of the finance department into a more strategic, data-driven and technology-orientated function where digital tools are used to improve efficiency, drive innovation and improve decision-making. It has enabled the automation of repetitive tasks which has freed up the time of finance teams to focus more on strategic decision-making where more human expertise is needed.

How does your company differ from its direct competitors in the fintech space?

Founded in 2012 to detect and prevent fraudulent activities in online markets, NorthRow has developed to become an end-to-end KYC, KYB and ID&V solution helping regulated companies across all markets meet complicated Anti-Money Laundering (AML) compliance regulations, enabling them to grow safely and effectively as a result. 

Our technology helps businesses manage the increasingly complex nature of financial systems and the changing regulatory requirements that come with this. We facilitate and streamline regulatory compliance, ensuring that businesses have the tools to stay compliant, avoiding any hefty fines, potential legal costs and reputational damage that come with non-compliance. 

We provide a suite of automated tools that facilitates the onboarding of customers and provide continuous due diligence thereafter. Our goal is to make that journey as quick, effortless and pleasant for both our customers and the end customer too.

Ultimately we protect our customers from the devastating effects that fraud, and other forms of economic crime, can have on individuals and companies.”

What are your top three fintech predictions for the upcoming years?

The first is embedded finance where financial services are integrated seamlessly into non-financial apps and websites. It’s forecast to grow significantly over the next few years meaning consumers will be able to access financial products such as payments, lending or insurance directly within other non-financial services, such as retail platforms, ride-sharing apps or social media.

Secondly is the expansion of decentralised finance. DeFi uses blockchain technology to offer financial services without traditional intermediaries like banks or brokers. While still in its early stages, DeFi has the potential to revolutionise how people invest, borrow, lend and make payments. 

And finally, we can’t talk about the future without discussing advancements in AI and machine learning which are set to transform personalised finance over the next year or so. AI will become more sophisticated and widely applied across fintech and will also play a key role in enhancing fraud detection and risk management, making financial services safer and more reliable than ever before

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Which fintech sectors do you believe are prime for investment in 2025 and beyond?

Blockchain and cryptocurrency is a big one. Despite the volatility and regulatory scrutiny in the cryptocurrency market, the underlying blockchain technology continues to offer significant potential for transforming financial services. This includes not just traditional cryptocurrencies, but also stablecoins, central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) and tokenization of assets.

Then there’s financial infrastructure and APIs. As the demand for embedded finance grows, there’s a significant opportunity in providing the infrastructure that enables non-financial companies to integrate financial services. Companies that offer Banking-as-a-Service (BaaS) platforms, payment processing APIs, and Compliance-as-a-Service (CaaS) solutions are likely to see increased demand. 

And finally, AI and big data are transforming how financial institutions operate, offering personalised services, improving risk assessment, and enhancing fraud detection. Investment in fintech companies specialising in AI-driven analytics will increase significantly over the coming years.

What are some of the biggest challenges the fintech sector is experiencing as a whole?

In the UK specifically, there are a number of challenges. The first is regulatory complexity. Fintechs must navigate a landscape that includes not just national regulations but also evolving international standards, especially in the aftermath of Brexit. Adapting to new regulatory requirements can be costly and time-consuming, particularly for smaller startups.

Brexit continues to throw up a range of uncertainties for the sector. The loss of passport rights, which allowed financial services to be offered seamlessly across the EU, has forced UK-based fintechs to rethink their European strategies and, in some cases, establish EU-based operations to maintain market access. Post-Brexit immigration rules and the global competition for tech talent are also making it more challenging for UK fintechs to attract and retain the skilled workforce they need to innovate and expand.

And as fintech companies handle vast amounts of sensitive financial data, they are prime targets for cyberattacks. Ensuring robust cybersecurity measures are in place is a significant challenge, requiring ongoing investment in security technologies and practices to protect against increasingly sophisticated threats.

What are some fintech startups you are excited about?

FinTech Farm, SuperPayments, BudFinancial and Upstart.

What advice do you have for aspiring professionals wanting to work in fintech?

Be adaptable, continuously upskill in both technology and finance and cultivate a mindset of innovation to thrive in the dynamic and evolving fintech landscape.

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Tim Danton

Tim has worked in IT publishing since the days when all PCs were beige, and is editor-in-chief of the UK's PC Pro magazine. He has been writing about hardware for TechFinitive since 2023.