The Monday Interview: Charles Dowd, co-founder, Plynk - Changing how we act around money

A decade ago, tweeting was recognised by only a few hardcore social media users — now it is a medium of communication favoured by a sitting US president.

For Dublin money messenger app Plynk, the ultimate ambition is for the firm’s name to become a verb. If plynking becomes a word as recognisable as tweeting, then the financial technology (fintech) firm will have realised its ambition of having millions of users worldwide.

Founded in 2015, Plynk is Europe’s first money messaging app offering instant person-to-person payments. Headquartered in Dublin, Plynk was co-founded by Charles Dowd and Clive Foley to remove the complexities of money transfers amongst family and friends.

Think of WhatsApp with the ability to transfer money into another person’s account instantaneously, and you get a pretty good idea of what Plynk is. Linked to users’ social networks, Plynk users can send money as a message to a single contact or in group chats instantly and with no fees.

Once an account is created, users receive a payment account with a dedicated IBAN and virtual Mastercard for online payments.

Mr Dowd has worked for some of the world’s largest and most impactful technology firms, including IBM, Microsoft, and Facebook, holding senior management roles in the US and Ireland over the past 25 years. He left Facebook in 2015 to establish and develop Plynk with Mr Foley.

“Plynk is the sound that money makes when you drop it in a jar. We’re building a social network built around money, where people are paying people. We want to change the way people interact with money together. We want to be a verb, essentially,” Mr Dowd said.

The concept was a head-turner among investment funds and venture capitalists, who saw high potential.

In May this year, Plynk raised €25m in its Series A raise from a European investment trust fund. Series A is the name typically given to a company’s first significant round of venture capital financing.

Considering Twitter received around €5m in investor funding at the beginning of its development in 2007, the investment into Plynk is an indication of where investors believe it can go.

Following its success, KPMG referenced Plynk’s historic milestone in its ‘Pulse of Fintech’ 2017 report.

Plynk announced 40 new jobs based in its Dublin headquarters in June — adding that it plans to hire across numerous departments over the next year. Mr Dowd said a drive was now on to make young people aware of how Plynk could revolutionise how they treat money and exchanging funds. Growing the brand in Europe is the next phase of the business, he added. Portugal has so far followed Ireland.

“We have more than 12,500 people using the service and we launched in Portugal some weeks ago. We’re doing a similar approach in Portugal as we do in Ireland, which is on campuses with campus ambassadors. We have a 30-odd campus ambassador scheme based in Portugal and they are essentially recruiting in Lisbon and Porto campuses, in a similar way to how it is done in Ireland,” said Mr Dowd.

“Here we have ambassadors pretty much on campuses all over Ireland and they have been working since the beginning of the school term essentially. It’s about getting the brand out there, making sure they know who we are, recruiting users. We want this to become part of people’s lifestyle, so it’s not just about getting people to install Plynk, but getting people to use it.

“We want it to become part of people’s lives and to change the way we act around money,” he said.

With €25m in investment, Mr Dowd said the company would not blow itself up with unrealistic targets. “The business plan you commit to with your investors should be meaningful and achievable. They want the business to be successful and are not here to say you must grow to five million people or anything like that,” he said.

“Where we think the business can grow, and what is achievable to move on to the next phase, it’s

always a combination of a conversation between everyone, and that the goals are appropriate for the

investment you can build. Currently we have a three-year plan, that’s the way we look at the world. It’s hard to predict much further out, so right now we are focused on the next 12-18 months.”

Having Plynk available across Europe is achievable, he added. Then the sights will be set on global expansion.

“Right now we are a pan-European application building a consumer brand, so it does require a significant amount of cash to actually make the brand actually work.

“We’re looking at around 11 countries across Europe, 10 in the eurozone and the UK. We, therefore, need to be in different languages and currencies, and need to appeal to a wide audience of people. It’s an interesting challenge but one we definitely think is worthwhile.

“We want to be number one in Europe but we understand this is a global product. We want Plynk to be in every language in the world. 


KEYWORDS:

 

Most Read in Business

World Markets