Adrian is the co-founder and CEO of Fynbos. He is originally from Johannesburg but now lives in Cape Town with his wife, three kids, and two dogs.
Adrian is a long time open source, open standards and payments nerd who still likes to do some coding just to make sure he’s not getting rusty, and also to ensure our CTO, Matt doesn’t take away his commit privileges.
He started his career while still at the University of Cape Town where he co-founded a rugby website, sarugby.com. He built a number of firsts on the platform, such as a stats centre and a live scoring system, pushing it to become one of the top 10 websites in the country at the time.
He did a short stint in Ireland working on mobile Web technologies for dotMobi and that was where he first got involved in open standards, through the W3C.
His return to South Africa in 2009 was the beginning of his career in (and passion for) payments, working in the payment card industry at various local and international companies until he got interested in an obscure idea called Open Transactions which lead him to Bitcoin, cryptocurrencies, and ultimately joining Ripple in 2015.
At Ripple, and then later at Coil, he helped develop the Interledger protocol stack, representing both companies at W3C where he was co-chair of the Web Payments Working Group. With a particular interest in the usability and security of payments and inspired by the potential of Open Banking he designed the Open Payments standard and payment pointers.
Adrian loves his home continent of Africa and is facinated by the potential of technology created there (like mobile money) to make a major impact on the rest of the world. He previously sat on the board of the Mojaloop Foundation where his experience in open source, open standards and payments all came in handy.
With support from Coil, Adrian, Matt, Don, and Cairin started Fynbos in 2021 with the vision of building a better way to pay using payment pointers and Open Payments.
Adrian is responsible for setting the company’s strategic direction and doing whatever he can to enable the team to build, build, and build.
Adrian has always imagined himself being an entrepreneur again:
"There are a number of problems I've encountered in my career which I've been inspired to try and solve. Sometimes my efforts have been through standards work, other times just writing a blog or some code. Until now, I haven't felt passionate enough about my solution to take the plunge and build it. Instead I’ve enjoyed a really rewarding career working with smart people, growing my knowledge and experience, and waiting for the right opportunity to come along.
Soon after meeting Matt, Don and Cairin I knew we needed to build something together. We built our first wallet prototype using payment pointers and since then I haven't been able to think of anything else. I feel incredibly lucky to have met this team, and also to have been given this opportunity by Stefan and Coil."
I know we’re building something that is going to change the way the world pays. It’s wild to imagine the impact payment pointers and the technology we’re building could have.
A few questions for Adrian:
What skill would you like to master?
I’ve always wanted to be proficient in more languages (the ones people speak, not programming languages). I think those of us that have English as our first language can easily be lazy about learning other languages because English gets you pretty far most places.
There are 11 official languages in South Africa and I’d love to have done a better job of learning more of them, like isiXhosa which is widely spoken where I live in Cape Town.
Language is a really powerful way to connect with people and “walk in their shoes”, but learning languages is a big time commitment and time is not something I have a lot of to spare these days.
What are you most excited about right now?
I’m really excited about the future of the financial services industry as the Internet and access to digital services become ubiquitous globally. If we look ahead 20 - 30 years, Africa will be one of the most populous places on Earth with a huge proportion of the worlds working age population being on the continent. It’s going to be a huge shift.
By then I also expect the continent will be fully connected, so I’m fascinated to see what that world will look like. There are some incredible global fintech businesses already coming out of Africa (we hope to be recognised as one too, of course) which gives me a lot of confidence in that future.
If you look at the rapid pace of innovation and experimentation in financial services today in fields such as DeFi, instant payments, user-friendly public-key cryptography, combined with other technologies like self-sovereign identity and machine learning, how can you not be excited about what the future may hold.
Are you an early bird or a night owl?
Definitely a night owl. I regularly stay awake until the early hours working or watching TV. However, since having kids, and now with a new puppy in the house, I have had to get used to some early starts and can’t really afford to burn the midnight oil too often.
Like learning languages, I wish I found it easier to wake up early. The feeling you get when you’ve gotten up and achieved something (read book or gone for a run even) before the day really starts is pretty awesome. It feels like an unfair advantage over everyone else, and there’s nothing quite like seeing the sunrise hit Table Mountain.
That's Adrian! He'll be talking about payment pointers and what he and the team are building at Fynbos at the upcoming ILP Summit in New Orleans. If you can't get there in person, make sure you catch the live stream.
If you'd like to get a payment pointer of your own, get on the waitlist and be one of the first to get one from Fynbos.