This post is part of our new Future of Finance series which interviews the leading founders and executives who are on the front lines of the industry to get a better understanding of what problems the industry is facing, what trends are taking place, and what the future looks like.
The following is an interview we recently had with Jacob van den Berg, CEO of bkper.
1. What's the history of Bkper? Where and how did you begin?
JV: Bkper was originally created by two brothers, Krishna and Mael, in Belo Horizonte – Brazil, who were facing the same problem of collecting and centralizing financial data generated by many projects they had in its software development company, to get a quick view of balance sheet and P&L statements, in a simple and clear way, not achieved by complicated and inflexible systems out there. At some point they had the vision of the core of bookkeeping could be extracted and provided as a service on the cloud, with a new data streaming paradigm to solve the problem of accounting and financial management at scale. For that, they knew they needed a strong partner to provide the infrastructure and distribution power, which they chose Google. Jacob, who was the Google Developer Group coordinator at their city, with a strong business and customer support experience, joined their journey as the CEO, to help get to the product market fit and the right business model.
2. What specific problem does Bkper solve? How do you solve it?
JV: Accountants & Bookkeepers are facing an explosion of new applications and usually handle financial data flow connecting dozens of systems and repositories, ending up as a chaos hidden from clients, strongly affecting their ability to provide a good service.
Bkper solves that by providing a double entry transactions streaming platform on Google Cloud, so users can connect any data source or data sink to the backbone, getting real-time balance sheets and shared financial statements.
It's a new paradigm that transforms how people handle Bookkeeping & Accounting.
3. What's the future of finance?
Prediction #1: Several trends show that the future of finance is moving towards decentralization, with the strongest indicator being cryptocurrencies. Institutions like banks are already, some time, under pressure to meet customer expectations in this sense and have to open the access to customer data through APIs and user will take the ownership of their data. Customer service quality will rule the game, not data ownership.
Prediction #2: Accountants will not waste time handling data flow anymore. Repetitive, clerical work done by accountants today will be automated by AI and Bots.
Prediction #3: Accountants will be a key business partner and consultant, helping on the strategy and decision making, other than data process and tax filing. Those who don't adapt will die.
4. What are the top 3 technology trends you're seeing in finance?
Trend #1: Cloud & API's – Still desktop and local network solutions are strong on finances.
Trend #2: AI & Bots – Repetitive tasks and Predictions will be handled by computers.
Trend #3: Blockchain – Transactions will be validated and financial services will be democratized.
Finance under user/customer pressure is struggling to find its way from a closed and centralized world towards an open and decentralized ambience.
5. Why is the finance ripe for disruption?
JV: Finances usually come later on innovation. There are a lot of reasons for that, from security, regulatory laws to customer confidence on having their most sensitive data handled by young startups. We've seen great innovations in B2C, customer support, sales and other areas in last years. Now is time for finances. From Banking to Accounting, there are billion dollar markets which were not yet disrupted by the natural protections barrier brought by finances, but those barriers are dropping as they are under pressure, people are demanding better more flexible options, getting comfortable with innovations in this area, and, at some point, giants like Intuit or SAP will be disrupted by better and cheaper solutions such as bkper.
About Jacob van den Berg
Co-founder and CEO at Bkper, a double entry streaming platform on Google Cloud, with a technical background as Database Consultant in Spain, who volunteered as GDG community manager in Belo Horizonte, Brazil and led operations of legal software firm in Brazil. Working on two continents, in different cultures he grew skills needed to act on a global market.