On Bringing the Change to Financial Education, with Ivan Muck, CEO at ff.next by@ffnext

On Bringing the Change to Financial Education, with Ivan Muck, CEO at ff.next

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ff.next offers design-driven mobile banking solutions for financial innovators with a special focus on younger customers. The startup aims to revolutionise financial education and provide the appropriate tools, platforms and eventually the right customer experience to younger customers by helping financial institutions serve their true needs.

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Design-driven mobile banking apps for financial innovators, including boxed solutions...

About @ffnext
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HackerNoon Reporter: Please tell us briefly about your background.

I was raised in a family of musicians having a saxophone player father, a singer mother, and a bass guitar player twin sister. Following this awesome tradition, I also wanted to pursue a musical career and become a drummer until the age of 16, before deciding to study international business and later establish my own fintech startup together with my twin brother. As a former fintech analyst, I have developed a deep understanding of the financial sector and have strong domain knowledge of mobile banking and enthusiasm for design-driven digital products.

What's your startup called? And in a sentence or two, what does it do?

ff.next offers design-driven mobile banking solutions for financial innovators with a special focus on younger customers, including off-the-shelf, boxed solutions that are all easy to integrate and white-label as well as an end-to-end service from UX research, through UX/UI design to implementation.

What is the origin story?

Not a single act or event, but several different impulses and experiences led to the foundation of ff.next. Two of our founders worked at a global management consulting firm as Fintech Analysts, where they got to know the fascinating world of fintech. They recognised that youth banking as such is a poorly covered segment and that there are very few design-driven retail banking solutions on the market. At the same time, several of our colleagues volunteered in a non-profit organisation aimed at preparing high-school students for their final exams. They had seen how severe the lack of financial consciousness amongst youngsters was and that this issue originated from the deficiencies of the educational system.

Also, 400,000 Hungarian families were affected by the global financial crisis & foreign currency loan crisis in Hungary in which many of our families were involved. We felt the urge to make a difference on all these terrains by founding our own company focusing on the financial education of youngsters and their families. We believe that taking control over your finances is a lifetime of work, and starting to learn about financial literacy and how to manage your money is vital from a young age. In order to increase the financial consciousness of youngsters they must be involved in financial services early on, which require digital solutions, interfaces, and in the end - applications that can be used easily and intuitively.

We are revolutionising financial education and providing the appropriate tools, platforms, and eventually the right customer experience to younger customers by helping financial institutions serve their true needs.

Throughout the past years, we have already participated in 2 bank-backed, 1 telco-backed and a Big4-backed accelerator, became alumni of a prestigious Swiss accelerator and we are also part of the innovation centre of the Central European University in Budapest.

  • MKB Fintechlab’s incubation program: March 2017 - July 2017
  • Telenor Hungary’s accelerator program: October 2017 - February 2018
  • OTP Bank’s accelerator program facilitated by Nestholma: January 2018 - May 2018
  • PwC Startup Collider: April 2019 - October 2019
  • F10’s P3: Product to Market batch: October 2019

What do you love about your team, and why are you the ones to solve this problem?

We are a diverse team bringing different interests and expertise to the table. However, we all agree on one thing: every member of ff.next is dedicated to creating design-driven and youth-centered solutions for the mutual joy and benefit of our clients and the end-users at the same time.

If you weren’t building your startup, what would you be doing?

If I wasn’t building my own company, I would probably work as a management consultant. However, in a more extreme case, I would follow the family tradition and play music (more specifically the Cajon, a Peruvian percussion instrument) in one of my father’s bands called Groupensax, go on tour with them and perform at events like the Gronau Jazz Festival in Germany.

At the moment, how do you measure success? What are your core metrics?

Taking control of your finances is a lifetime of work and we want to help younger customers to be financially literate while supporting wealth creation in the long run. In order to achieve this goal, we provide design-driven, state-of-the-art digital solutions for large traditional banks and financial institutions, as well as small fintech startups to make their customer acquisition more efficient and therefore provide more younger customers with accessible financial services and education. In this case, our core metric to measure success is the number of banks, financial institutions, and fintech served, which is 10+ banks and 20+ fintech during our 4 years of operation.

What’s most exciting about your traction to date?

At ff.next, with our team of 20 UX/UI designers and software engineers we’ve been creating & implementing design-driven digital products for banks, fintech, and financial innovators from Singapore through Central-Eastern Europe to the UK. We've been helping growth-stage fintech to achieve further successes with higher conversion rates, increased brand awareness, and enhanced customer experience as well as early-stage fintech with smaller budgets to build ultra high-fidelity, fully animated prototypes to win over further investors and potential clients. Additionally, we've already been involved in 3 successful mobile banking app redesign projects with leading banks in Hungary, Bulgaria, and Romania.

Check out our awesome case studies about the projects we worked on by clicking the following links:

What technologies are you currently most excited about, and most worried about? And why?

The technology that we are most excited about is undoubtedly the Flutter framework. Beforehand, there was no single programming language that could be used to write native applications for different platforms, therefore if we wanted to create the same application for Android and iOS operating systems, we had to write the same application in two different languages.

Today cross-platform technologies provide a solution for this problem. One such example is the Flutter framework, with which we can develop for iOS and Android by using a single code base.

Though Flutter is an amazing new tool, it has some flaws as well and we should mention the areas where there’s room for improvement.

One of them could be Dart itself, since it is a new programming language and developers need to learn it from scratch. Another disadvantage could be that in Flutter’s case the UI and the logic are intertwined, whereas it is more preferable to separate these concepts in case of modern frameworks. In addition, Flutter suffers from the lack of tools for continuous integration and has limited options of libraries as well.

It is also worth mentioning that an APK that is created from a brand new Flutter application and contains almost nothing, takes up around 7 megabytes of space, which is quite much compared to the APK of a native Android app. And finally, in certain cases we need to communicate with native APIs in native code, especially if we do not have a suitable library, therefore we will not be able to code everything solely in Dart.

What drew you to get published on HackerNoon? What do you like most about our platform?

The reason we wanted to get published on the HackerNoon website is that it could immensely help our startup by generating relevant business leads. Besides that, we are fond of the platform's unique user interface which is intuitive, easy to understand, and fun to use! Also, HackerNoon is an inspiring platform for technologists to read and write to and as a software development company, we truly believe that the international community of 15,000+ contributing writers and the 3,000,000+ curious and insightful monthly readers are an amazing community to be part of and to interact with.

What advice would you give to the 21-year-old version of yourself?

Invest all of your savings in Bitcoin and Ethereum!

What is something surprising you've learned this year that your contemporaries would benefit from knowing?

Even the most difficult situations can bring positive results. Like many other companies worldwide, we also had to deal with the global crisis caused by COVID-19, however, digitalisation accelerated as a result of the pandemic, and things eventually turned out well for us. Everyone is advised to look at the bright side of things, get the most out of every situation and never be discouraged or give up. An apparent obstacle can be an opportunity as well, everything is just a matter of perspective and attitude!

Vote for ff.next as the Startup of the year in Budapest, Hungary


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