Q&A with Daniel Blondell, COO at McLEAR

Daniel Blondell, Chief Operating Officer at McLEAR, is also a Director, Board Advisor, Wearable Pioneer, and Investor. He is innovative, highly motivated with a passion for adapting to the ever-changing payment landscape. He has a proven track record of solving a vast array of day-to-day business issues and a demonstrable track record of sales success.

To truly know a company and its value proposition properly, everyone should spend some time in their career working in customer services. Nothing gives you a better understanding than that of being at the frontline.



MEDIA 7: Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would love to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
DANIEL BLONDELL:
When I was 19 years old I used to play semi-professional football every Saturday afternoon. It so happened that during a conversation after a game, one of the fellow players worked in the payments sector and was looking for a junior Customer Services Support staff to join their EFT merchant acquiring company. In those days, I obviously had no idea what merchant acquiring was, let alone what EFT software was or did. I said yes anyway, attended the interview, got the job and I’m glad I did! Over the subsequent 9 years that I spent with that company I worked my way through their various divisions to then become a solutions sales expert helping launch POS & e-commerce electronic payment acceptance in some of the world’s largest hotel chains, airlines, and retail stores.

This experience has taught me that to truly know a company and its value proposition properly, everyone should spend some time in their career working in customer services. Nothing gives you a better understanding than that of being at the frontline. I then moved on to work at Gemalto (known as Thales today) the world’s leader in digital security. I started as a technical consultant learning more about the technical aspects and profiles of physical payment instruments like cards and PKI card readers. It enabled me to increase my knowledge in terms of how banks operate, banking infrastructures, and combining this with my previous merchant acquiring background gave me a holistic payment ecosystem overview. I worked at Gemalto for a decade helping transit banks from SDA to DDA, Chip & PIN, and the launch of contactless cards, wearables devices, early tokenization, and HCE on mobile devices. The rest as they say is history!


M7: Could you please elaborate on your viewpoint of the ever-changing payment landscape?
DB:
I started my career when POS payments were still made using carbon paper and zip zap machines or knuckle busters as we would call them. The payment landscape as we know it today is unrecognizable. It’s become more regulated with an increase in security, speed, and convenience. We will also continue to see significant changes in regards to crypto algorithms becoming longer and more secure, as well as an increase in various digital payment methods giving users added speed and convenience with newer and exciting challengers entering the market to disrupt the more traditional way of banking. More recently digital assets such as Altcoins and ETH platforms are starting to play a big role in the birth of NFT transactions.


We will also continue to see significant changes in regards to crypto algorithms becoming longer and more secure, as well as an increase in various digital payment methods giving users added speed and convenience with newer and exciting challengers entering the market to disrupt the more traditional way of banking.



M7: McLEAR was recently recognized at the ‘UK FinTech Awards 2021’. Could you please give us an insight into this excellent achievement?
DB:
It was a real honor for the company and our team to scoop up this award in this category as it further acknowledges all the hard work that happens behind the scenes at McLEAR. We constantly strive to innovate and push the boundaries of the user experience and features of our product. This award represents all that hard work, and there is more to come!


M7: You spoke about ‘The McLEAR Ring’ at the ‘Disruptive Live Session’. Our readers are curious to know more about this interesting concept.
DB:
Our Payment Ring was born from a need for ‘seamless’ convenience and that has been the backbone of our thinking ever since. RingPay by McLEAR gives its users a unique user experience with convenience at the forefront which is hard to describe until you use it. The easiest way to describe this is to think about all the things you carry on a typical day, car keys, house keys, bank cards, office pass, transit pass, then imagine all those things being combined in a single device that you simply wear on your finger! That’s our vision and payment is the start of that journey.


I think many people spend too much time worrying if their ideas will ever be good enough or unfortunately listening to others tell them they can’t do something or won’t achieve anything. Work hard and you can achieve anything you set your mind to.



M7: What, according to you, would be an ideal framework for marketing and sales teams to derive business success?
DB: I am sure there are much more capable marketers than me, but in my opinion, it would be to focus on defining what your unique selling point is, how you differentiate your product on the market, understand the need you are filling, identify and build your brand, tone of voice that resonates with your target audience and understand your positioning in the market.
McLEAR spent 3 years studying the market and identifying how we would fit into it. Our product is unique because there is not a Smart Ring market, or at least there wasn’t when we started, it’s really only now that we are starting to build our RingPay brand.

- Know your USPs.

-Assess and understand the gap in the market.

- Identify your target audience and their needs.

- Identify the market size and opportunity.

- Build a strong brand.

- Build a recognizable tone of voice.

- Identify how you are going to reach that audience.


M7: Knowing what you know now, what advice would you give your younger self?
DB:
Believe in yourself more! I think many people spend too much time worrying if their ideas will ever be good enough or unfortunately listening to others tell them they can’t do something or won’t achieve anything. Work hard and you can achieve anything you set your mind to.

ABOUT MCLEAR

McLEAR is the pioneer of wearable payment technology for consumers and businesses. Our Smart Ring was invented & patented in 2013, designed and engineered to be water and shock-resistant, requiring no battery or charging - making it the ideal wearable payment device that fits seamlessly into any lifestyle. RingPay for consumers launched in 2018 enabling UK consumers to make contactless payments both domestically and globally, with a simple touch of a hand. Ring-holders can set their own rules and manage their ring through a dedicated app, which has access to numerous features and benefits exclusive to McLEAR Ringholders. 

The world’s first payment ring was showcased alongside their partner Visa, at the Rio Olympics followed by other key events including Super Bowl 51, Eurovision 2017, FIFA Confederate Cup 2017, and the GRAMMY Gift Lounge 2018, with known celebrities such as The Hooligans, Zac Brown, Jeff Timons, Paul Shaffer, Anthony Hamilton, Shaggy, Louis Fonsi, Kesha, Ice T, Neil DeGrasse, and Lea Robinson becoming Ringholders! McLEAR works in partnership with Visa, Thales, Infineon, and other leading financial and technology institutions to bring the Smart Ring to more end-users; or financial institutions and businesses that are looking to provide their customers with the latest wearable payment technology. For more information or to order your Ring: www.mclear.com

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Orange Finances Money Mali and TerraPay Forge Strategic Partnership for Seamless Cross-border Payments

TerraPay | January 09, 2024

Orange Finances Money Mali, a leading Electronic Money Establishment and subsidiary of Orange Mali, is proud to announce a groundbreaking partnership with TerraPay, a global cross-border payments network with an extensive reach. This partnership marks a significant milestone in the digital financial landscape for Mali, connecting over 12 Million Malians to the vast diaspora residing across the globe, including other African countries. Bringing together Orange Finances Money Mali's commitment to promoting financial inclusion and TerraPay's proven expertise in facilitating secure cross-border payments, this partnership is set to empower Malians with innovative and seamless financial services. Financial inclusion continues to be one of the biggest challenges across West Africa and Orange Finances Money Mali has been dedicated to bridging this gap by striving to boost accessibility and inclusion through their services. One of the key highlights of this alliance is the ease with which Orange Money Mali customers can either cash out the funds received in their wallets or directly use them for everyday needs, including bill payments, supermarket purchases, and person-to-person transfers. Orange Finances Money is dedicated to issuing, managing, and distributing electronic money under the Orange Money brand in Mali. Djeneba Tandjigora, Chief of Transfer Services and Core Business at Orange Finances Money Mali, expressed his enthusiasm about the collaboration, stating, "Orange Money Mali customers can now receive money transfers from several countries using TerraPay's global network. This strategic collaboration simplifies transactions making them quick and secure, enhances the customer experience for Orange Money users and strengthens financial inclusion in Mali." Amel Kane, Regional Sales Manager Francophone West Africa at TerraPay, views this collaboration as an opportunity to enhance the quality of service and customer satisfaction. "With a direct connection to Orange Finances Money Mali, TerraPay can ensure a seamless cross-border payment experience, reducing operational issues and providing prompt assistance to our partner's clients. This collaboration reinforces our commitment to expanding our direct rails and continually improving our service offerings," stated Amel. Combining Orange Finances Money Mali's rapidly growing client database and TerraPay's wide network spanning 120+ receive countries, 210+ send countries, 7.5Bn+ bank accounts, and 2.1Bn+ mobile wallets – this partnership is poised to make a significant impact on the region's digital and financial services landscape. Partnering with Mali's biggest mobile money operator enables TerraPay to stay true to its commitment to quality and provide the best cross-border payment services in the region. Orange Finances Money Mali and TerraPay's strategic partnership not only strengthens connectivity between Mali and the global financial network but also positions both entities for accelerated growth in the digital payments landscape. The convenience and accessibility offered by this collaboration will undoubtedly benefit industry players, the public, customers, and merchants alike. About TerraPay TerraPay simplifies the movement of money everywhere – providing a single connection to the most expansive cross-border payments network regulated in 29 global markets and enabling payments to 120+ receive countries, 210+ send countries, 7.5Bn+ bank accounts and 2.1Bn+ mobile wallets. TerraPay is on a mission to connect a borderless financial world, making moving money everywhere instant, reliable, transparent and fully compliant. TerraPay pushes the boundaries for global businesses – ranging from banks, fintechs and money-transfer operators to travel businesses, creator economy platforms and e-commerce marketplaces – while driving financial inclusion in even the most inaccessible markets. Founded in 2014, TerraPay is headquartered in London, with global offices in Bangalore, Dubai, Miami, Bogota, Dar es Salaam, Kampala, Hague, Dakar, Joburg, Nairobi, Milan, Singapore and is expanding rapidly, having received funding from leading investors, including the IFC (the World Bank), Prime Ventures, Partech Africa and Visa. About Orange Finances Money Mali Orange Finances Money Mali is an Electronic Money Establishment, subsidiary of Orange Mali and approved by the Central Bank of West African States. Created in 2015, the company guarantees the issuance, management, and distribution of electronic money under the Orange Money brand in Mali.

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