Team Q&A: Matija Novak

Get to know our Head of Operations Matija Novak

Matija Novak 

Head of Operatations  

Matija is Neo’s Head of Operations and is responsible for trades and payments. He joined the team in 2018.

Learn more below

1. Tell us a bit about yourself.  

I was born in Slovenia, and this is where I completed my degree in money and finance. I’ve always wanted to go abroad and so I decided to take part in an international exchange with Toulouse Business School at its Barcelona campus.

It was here that I developed an interest in fintech which, in 2014, was a fairly new industry. I remember googling the term ‘fintech’ at the time and it didn’t even appear on Wikipedia!

Towards the end of my studies, I got a job with a fintech startup in Barcelona, which was not part of my initial plan, but I decided to stay in Barcelona for a while. It has now been nearly ten years!

2. Tell us about your role at Neo

I joined Neo at the pre-operational stage – so one might ask what a Head of Operations does when there were no operations!

As with every startup, roles change considerably in a fairly short amount of time and that was the case for me at Neo. 

In the beginning, my role was to design the operational and process workflow, which involved a lot of product-orientated work with Emmanuel and Laurent. At the time this involved a lot of brainstorming and ideas and process workflow diagrams.

Once we got the payment licence, my job was to work on the payment infrastructure and connectivity -connecting to SWIFT, registering and going live with Neo BIC and IBANs, EBA readiness etc.

Fast forward a couple of years later, I am now in charge of the operations team at Neo, leading a great team of skilled professionals. Within operations, the main tasks include the settlement of trades, payments and reconciliation. We also resolve any queries from clients. 

Being involved in so many different areas makes the role very interesting and provides plenty of learning opportunities.

3. How has the treasury landscape changed during your time in the industry and at Neo? 

In the past 10 years, the industry has changed quite dramatically, mostly due to advancements in technology. Treasurers have now realised the benefits of having treasury management systems in the cloud, such as the SaaS platform we offer at Neo.

Treasurers love that it’s available everywhere there is an internet connection. There is no need to download any software, no updates are required and if you spill coffee on your computer, your data will still be safe – what’s not to love?

The widespread adoption of application programming interfaces (APIs), which enabled the development of Open Banking, and was supported in Europe by the introduction of the Payment Service Directive 2 (PSD2), is another industry development that has changed the treasury landscape.

As well as this, crypto and blockchain technology has seen an increase in adoption across the industry as a whole.

In general, there has been a lot of focus on automation and data analysis to make better treasury decisions. These can range from FX hedging to liquidity prediction and cash management.

4. How do you see it changing in the next 5-10 years? 

Beyond automation, there will be a shift towards AI and machine learning when it comes to decision-making. This will mean the treasurer will not just have their tools implemented, synchronized and automated, but that algorithms and machines will actually suggest the decisions and predict required actions. The treasurer will then only need to confirm the suggested decisions. 

In terms of payments, we will start to see a lot of important changes coming up. We’re still waiting to see what central banks will do with their launch of CBDCs, something we’re definitely keeping an eye on. 

There are also some very interesting projects being developed by SWIFT, some of which we are piloting at Neo. We’re looking forward to being early adopters. Moving quickly and adopting technology early is a big part of why I enjoy working at Neo.