Jeff Adamson’s Journey from SkipTheDishes to Neo Financial

Jeff Adamson’s Journey from SkipTheDishes to Neo Financial

Amanda Au

After finding success with SkipTheDishes, Jeff Adamson and his co-founder Josh Simair wanted to create something that had the same impact. So they asked themselves these questions: What industry needs a refresh? What industry has fallen behind that needs to meet the needs of Canadians? Their vision behind Neo was to build a financial technology company centered around banking that enriches the lives of millions of Canadians. Why?

Over 50% of Canadians are in a state of hopeless debt. 

Canada is one of the most indebted nations. Millennials and Gen Z’s are about to be priced out of living the life their parents had. The Big 5 banks have been stable and reliable but have a lack of competition. Because of the lack of competition, there hasn’t been a lot of innovation.

Jeff notes that many modern technologies that we take for granted are left out of the banking industry in Canada. So Jeff and Josh set out to give Canadians the experience they deserve. They want to give Canadians the tools to make better decisions with their finances—while making the process frictionless and enjoyable.

They’re approaching it one piece at a time, starting with a next-generation Mastercard that you can use anywhere. It rewards you for everyday purchases with instant cashback. Canadians are starting to understand they’d rather have money—not points. Neo will have thousands of places customers can be instantly rewarded at.

Neo is innovating where other institutions are not

Banks have so much legacy technology. These companies are hundreds of years old. Trillions of dollars are routed through technology that was created in 1950. To get people to work on the code in these banks, they have to get people who retired in the 80s to come back! So much of the banking fees that any Canadian pays go to maintaining old systems.

Bank of America spends more on technology than some of the big tech companies in the US (like Netflix or Microsoft). Ninety percent of it is just maintenance—not enhancing anything.

Neo—on the other hand—is offering instant cashback personalized to your own spending behavior. They’re using their technology to say, “We see you like these things, have you tried this yet?” They’re helping people discover great places in their community.

They want to make budgeting easier. It’s a painful process that people hate doing. Their tech can say, “We’ve noticed you’re spending more in this area. Do you want to set a limit on that?” You can ease your way into budgeting. You can split a bill with the touch of a button. These features are months away for a platform like Neo. For other banks, it may never happen.

You have to serve your customer and live where they live. Why can’t you tap your phone to someone else’s and transfer money? The technology exists; it’s just not being applied in the Canadian industry. Why? Because they’re okay with the status quo. They’re making money, after all.

Neo is going to remove barriers

Jeff was speaking to someone in the hospitality industry who found out that ¼ of their staff were cashing their checks at Money Marts. Jeff’s wife came to Canada six years ago (from Ukraine). She worked in investment banking in Kyiv but couldn’t get a credit card. She could barely get a bank account.

With Neo, you have one account: a digital savings account. Canadians will get a record level of interest. They can use it as a debit account. No minimums or entry-level rates. Other banks bait you with “free” gifts like AirPods but offer no long-term value. Neo wants a long-term relationship, so every single dollar you have will come with a leading interest rate.

They identify as a financial technology company—not as a bank. Why? They are going to thoughtfully apply technology at a rapid pace. Most banks are static. Anyone that joins Neo will see monthly changes.

They’re now launching premium rewards, where Canadians can select the benefit that they want to have with their card. Do you want extra insurance on your technology? What about travel insurance? You can choose what you want to get and switch it on or off. You can choose rewards from thousands of places. Neo can learn your behavior and personalize it to you.

How else is Neo Financial changing the face of banking? What are Jeff and Josh doing to make Neo so vastly different? They discuss more about their game-changing solution to the outdated banking system in episode #25 of the Content Callout podcast. Check it out!