Transact365’s Sophie Flynn on moving from football to fintech

Transact365’s Sophie Flynn on moving from football to fintech
Transact365’s Sophie Flynn on moving from football to fintech

Can you tell us about how you made the transition from football to fintech?

Football was my first passion in life. Not only did I enjoy the competition and the ability to improve my playing skills, it gave me the opportunity to meet an inspiring community of professional footballers, many of whom I have stayed in touch with. However, there came a moment when I felt the time had come to start a professional career.

Don’t get me wrong, women’s soccer has grown in popularity tremendously in recent years. We just need to see the excitement the EC generates with the progress the English team is making. It rightfully gets the recognition and funding it deserves. When I was playing, however, it wasn’t exactly like that, so unfortunately it was quite difficult to make a living just playing football.

I knew I wanted to pursue a career in finance, but I wasn’t interested in taking the traditional university route. Like playing and training on the soccer field, I wanted a hands-on experience rather than sitting in a lecture hall. So when I was 18, I did an accounting apprenticeship. It turned out to be a very rewarding and insightful experience and although my career in finance took off, unfortunately I no longer had the time to do both so I made the difficult decision to hang up my boots and focus on my career in finance. I then qualified as an authorized accountant and started my own business in 2017.

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Tell us about Transact 365 – who are you and how did it come about?

After getting my ACA I worked at a business services firm. At the time, I saw a gap in the payments market for a system that really served merchants in emerging markets. I saw merchants being held back by the options available to them, so in 2017 I set up Transact365 with my co-founders.

Transact365 has quickly become one of the leading global payment platforms in the UK. Headquartered in London, we have hundreds of merchants using our platform for their local payment solutions.

Can you tell us about your current markets and ambitions for growth?

We are based in the UK and Europe and our ambition as a business is to give sellers in these regions access to new and prosperous emerging markets including Latin America, India and Asia. Our goal is to ensure that our merchants can efficiently process local payments through our payment gateway.

We’ve grown significantly over the last few years – we recently achieved 300% year-on-year growth, which was a huge achievement for us. Our ambition as a business is to continue to give sellers a new way to reach their customers in the best possible way. For example, our chargeback ratio has currently reached an all-time low of 0.004% – something we are incredibly proud of as a team.

Does your football career give you any skills or experience that you can bring into the business?

From my perspective, there are important parallels between football and fintech. To become both a professional footballer and a fintech entrepreneur, you need discipline, dedication, passion and a hunger to always be the best – the competition in both fields is fierce. These are all character traits I learned from a very young age on the field that I brought with me into the boardroom. I am naturally a very competitive person which I have found to be beneficial to me in my career, even if it annoys my family sometimes!

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As an ex-footballer, how encouraging is it to see the women’s game becoming so popular, and does it draw any comparisons to the world of finance?

It has been incredible to see the buzz surrounding the Women’s European Championships at Old Trafford [where the previous record attendance was broken earlier in the championship]. Having been brought up near Manchester, it’s great to see my home county flying the flag for women’s football. While it’s fantastic that the games are being sold out and the footballers are getting the fan and media attention they deserve, it’s a shame it’s taken us so long to get to this point. Just 10 years ago, the women’s game was hardly talked about, despite the enormous talent we had across the country.

On a positive note, however, it shows how quickly stereotypes and inequality can change, and it’s something we’re certainly seeing in the fintech sector as well. More and more women are entering the industry and taking advantage of the endless opportunities fintech offers. I’m sure this will only improve as time goes on.

And finally, will you be rooting for the lionesses in the final?

Absolutely! A couple of my former teammates are in the England team so I’ll definitely be looking out for them and cheering them on.

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