Michael Phillipou, CEO, Sandstone Technology
Having the vision to see beyond the contemporary and identify possibilities for the future is a rare skill. Bob Hall and Violet Yu were two such promising individuals who saw the endless possibilities that the internet had to offer to the banking and financial industry. However, taking this idea forward was not easy in the day. Online banking as a concept was still new, and even the most progressive banks were hesitant and apprehensive of shifting online because of the uncertainty and risks associated with it.
Not many have had the conviction to turn an idea so infantile and immature in its respective field into a tangible and marketable product that withstands the screening and harshness of the finance world. But, Bob Hall and Violet Yu, ex-employees of IBM, brought the best of both worlds- finance and technology-together, to launch one of the first ever fintech enterprises in the Australian landscape.
Shortly in 1996, Sandstone Technology was founded in a garage with the mission of providing digital solutions to banks and financial institutions. The company’s aim was to eradicate as many pain points as they possibly could to enhance the day-to-day banking operations and provide digital solutions through their products and services. Today, the company has not only removed the unnecessarily lengthy and complex procedures from traditional banking, but has also made finance accessible, frictionless and a better experience for the banking staff as well as the customers.
Sandstone Technology achieved its first breakthrough when Adelaide Bank of Australia subscribed to their solutions. Bob and Violet travelled to Adelaide and convinced Adelaide bank to select them. The ideas they expounded looked promising enough for Adelaide Bank of Australia to take their chance upon this bubbling new start up for their internet banking.
The company’s growth has only been upward since then attracting customers from across the globe. However, in order for any business to prosper, boundaries need to be set and direction of growth and expansion needs to be determined to establish a name and identity in the market. And Sandstone Technology knew this.
As success followed, Sandstone made sure that they did not get lost in the attractive yet fatal web of expanding into every marketable domain that came along the way. They narrowed down their products and created a platform focussed on what they did best: digitising banking operations and replacing the complexity from traditional banking processes with AI and automation.
25 years down the lane, Sandstone has expanded in the UK and New Zealand in addition to Australia, catering to over 35 customers based in APAC and the UK, and providing digital products and services in a plethora of areas including mobile banking apps, internet banking, end-to-end origination, AI and machine learning.
The work culture at Sandstone
The secret to Sandstone’s success has been their approach to problem identification and solving. It has enabled the company to come up with solutions that go beyond the ordinary to provide the most optimal of solutions.
Today, under the leadership of CEO, Michael Phillipou, the company’s primary focus is to differentiate by executing on a ‘best people’ strategy. That is, Sandstone Technology is focused on ensuring that it has a highly-engaged team of the most capable and experienced people in banking, financial services and technology, in order to provide its global customers with market leading digital banking platforms. Accordingly, the staff at Sandstone are some of the best from their area of expertise and demonstrate deep knowledge of their respective domains. This helps Michael Phillipou and the Sandstone executive team build an ecosystem that encourages deep market research, collaboration and analytics-based understanding of the future trends, to allow for an informed and well-analysed solution for the customer.
Sandstone follows a customer-first approach in their working model and there is also an active attempt to keep an eye out for customer interest in trying times. For instance, as the firm realised the need for self-service tools very early in the pandemic, they were quick to develop tools to help consumers manage their loans, mortgages etc., ensuring that their customer banks sail easy though one of the worst crises of the century.
The three guiding principles that make Sandstone stand out from its competitors are:
- Giving the best customer experience,
- An exceptional product experience, and
- Creating an ideal space for employees to work
Their approach to products and services
Sandstone is one of the few companies in the Australian landscape that provides financial institutions with an omni-channel end-to-end digital banking solution. Being a business transformation partner, they realise the stakes that banks put at risk and the horrors of a failed or ill-executed plan. They hence conduct multiple test runs and trials and boast a 100% implementation success rate.
With a focus on taking the complexity out of traditional banking operations, they enhance end-to-end customer experience through the use of AI and automation, thereby making it easy for the consumer as well as the internal banking staff. Their focus lies in the automation of low value tasks that are time consuming. This will eventually allow bank employees to focus their time on the more developmental aspects of the job.
Today, the range of products, services and end-to-end solutions offered by Sandstone have become so diverse that they have emerged as a one stop solution to the challenges of digitisation in the finance industry. Customer banks need to figure out only their core operations and the rest of the specifics in their digital transformation can all be taken care of by Sandstone.
Vision and future
For a company that is invested in digitisation, automation and AI, the future holds great promise for growth and abundance of opportunities. As more banks turn to expanding their digital operations, Sandstone Technology, under Michael Phillipou’s leadership, looks forward to partnering with financial institutions across the globe and assisting them with a smooth and viable transformation with their expertise and experience.
As the market slowly transforms to an API and SaaS based economy, there is an emerging need for highly consumable digital offerings, where the company is planning to invest its main focus in the coming future. For a short-term goal, Sandstone is all set to launch a single platform that caters to both consumers as well as small business customers in 2022.
Sandstone Technology, as the name itself suggests is representative of a robust and strong presence in the Australian fintech landscape and has proved itself to be a powerful ally that financial institutions can rely upon for their transformation projects.