Hedging is a way for people, or companies, to reduce foreign exchange risk, something that is of particular interest to many in today’s volatile landscape.
With the pace of innovation and disruption in fintech continuing to rise, it was only a matter of time before a solution emerged to all of this uncertainty in this space.
One company doing just that is AssureHedge, with founder Barry McCarthy looking to help the vast majority of businesses currently doing nothing to protect themselves against foreign exchange risks.
Gap in the market
Following more than a decade working in trading, taking in locations such as the UK, Singapore and Gibraltar, McCarthy knew there was a gap in the market. In truth, McCarthy estimates the untapped hedging market potential in Ireland alone at about €6 billion a year.
With an idea of how to solve it, he came to NDRC to join the 2016 LaunchPad programme.
“I had a fantastic turnaround at NDRC,” said McCarthy. “I got there all on my own. Just myself, with some of the algorithms that eventually helped build AssureHedge.
“There was no plan to speak of, nothing, no testing. No customer discovery. So I held off on building the product and, instead, learned from the programme.”
Back to the core
What emerged was a platform with the potential to provide currency confidence for all by offering businesses the same currency hedging tools as the multinationals use.
“Futures markets were created for hedging, allowing farmers to navigate markets that used different currencies, allowing some sort of security,” said McCarthy.
“The products I originally traded were for investing or hedging, so AssureHedge is all about bringing hedging back to its core.”
Now, with a team 10, McCarthy’s 18-month-old operation is negotiating the lengthy regulatory road to success, achieving a significant landmark in August 2017, when it landed its first official customer.
‘The products I originally traded were for investing or hedging, so AssureHedge is all about bringing hedging back to its core’- Barry McCarthy, AssureHedge CEO
Given the convoluted route to market across the industry that AssureHedge operates in, ways to fast-track licencing, research and attract customers are always welcome.
That’s why McCarthy’s company applied for, and successfully became, the second Irish business to become regulated through the Financial Conduct Authority’s (FCA) Innovative Sandbox programme in the UK.
This is a key stepping stone, which should see AssureHedge achieve full regulation enabling trading throughout Europe by the end of the programme, which kicked off during the summer of 2017.
Add to that the fact that the FCA has a reciprocal arrangement with the financial regulators of Singapore, Australia, South Korea and Hong Kong, and the programme is a no-brainer.
This means AssureHedge can potentially get six-month testing windows in these countries, too, allowing it to trial is products in international markets with a low financial risk.
The company is raising £3 million to help it gain FCA authorisation, with its target customers businesses hedging anywhere in the range of €2 million - €50 million.
With the number of customers trading over its service surging on the back of the sandbox programme, and a business shaped from years of experience, and assistance in NDRC, AssureHedge is primed for a fine future.