If you’ve been out to eat or drink during the past few years, you’ve almost certainly taken part in a Fintech revolution. Take a seat, pull out your phone, browse the menu, pay – ping! – and your order magically appears.
Sina Yamani, the founder and CEO of Yoello, dreamt up his big idea - a mobile payment platform for the hospitality and retail market – before the pandemic. He had plenty of friends in hospitality, and he reckoned that he could develop a system to make their lives easier.
In 2019 he dropped out of Cardiff University, where he was studying computer science, to set up Yoello. In doing so, incidentally, he joined the ranks of college drop-outs who have done rather well in the tech world: Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Michael Dell, Larry Ellison, Paul Allen, Elon Musk and Jack Dorsey.
At the beginning, Yoello was just another plucky start-up with five employees. But when the pandemic struck, everything changed. Suddenly everyone was looking for a way to process food and drink orders safely, efficiently and easily. Yoello quickly became a lifesaver for the beleaguered hospitality industry.
Yoello’s key selling point is that you don’t need to download an app. You simply scan a QR code or tap in a URL, and your phone does the rest. Now thousands of businesses are trading through Yoello in the UK and around the world.
This has made life a lot easier for consumers. “Yoello solves the digital experience for customers,” says Yamani. “It’s so much more streamlined if you can move everything over onto mobile phones from cash and cards.”
There’s also a major benefit to businesses: Yoello vastly reduces costs by using banking legislation (PSD2) to cut out the middlemen. “Businesses are losing a lot of money through transaction fees in the settlement network that exists right now,” says Yamani. “We connect banks directly to move funds from account to account, rather than going through the existing card schemes that cost businesses a fortune.”
Yoello is now one of the UK’s most promising Fintechs. It’s already won a hatful of awards, including Wales Start-Up of the Year in 2021. Its founder was also named the Young Entrepreneur of the Year.
“Yoello has grown very quickly,” says Yamani. “We’re up to 60 people right now and we’re aiming to double that in the next 12 months. We’re currently in seven different countries and aiming to be at 35 by the end of next year. There’s a very keen ambition to grow Fintech in Wales and we’re seeing that with all the help we’re receiving.”
He’s originally from Cheltenham, but now Sina Yamani’s roots are firmly planted in the fertile soil of Cardiff’s burgeoning Fintech community. “I don’t think that we’d have reached this position without the amazing community that there is here,” he says. “All the support from the Welsh Government, and all the different entrepreneurs - they’re all working together to build this community. The Fintech sector in Wales is unbelievable. Wales is massively undervalued. We’ve got an amazing ecosystem here that wants businesses to thrive – just without the London price tag!”
This ecosystem comes with the crucial backing of a strong academic base, which is supplying the next-generation skills needed in the sector, says Yamani: “We’ve done a few research projects with universities helping to come up with new solutions to combat some of the business challenges that we’ve got, and then in terms of some of the talent that’s coming out of these universities, the academia here is fantastic so recruiting here has been amazing.”
Yoello plugged a gaping gap in the market, but it has also helped to change the order-and-pay landscape for ever. Payment platforms are here to stay. Yoello are continuing to refine and improve their service. Soon they’ll be rolling out Yoello Pay, a central payment platform which uses open banking to make transactions more affordable.
Bright ideas, clever people, hard work, and a place to make things happen. That’s how revolutions begin.