Here’s What “Disruption” Really Looks Like

A personal example from the world of fintech.

Max Faldin
2 min readJun 20, 2023
Photo by Lala Azizli on Unsplash

Imagine having customers representing 2% of your revenue and 98% of your problems.

You’d drop them immediately.

At one point, this was the case for OCBC Bank, the largest bank in Singapore. These 2% revenue customers were the SMEs attempting B2B cross-border payments, with constant compliance issues. No one wanted to support them.

When I learned this in 2016, it struck me. The problem was much bigger than just eCommerce in Singapore.

It was global. And it was about international trade.

How do SMEs even bank?

Unless you are a $100m+ corporation, global banks just wouldn’t let you bank with them. They have no economic incentive to deal with all the paperwork required to do cross-border transactions.

I dug down into the problem and started coming up with some ideas for its data-driven solutions. But I didn’t have a real vision for it until two years later when I saw what the first neobanks were doing.

I’ve always been an e-commerce guy, and I knew firsthand how cumbersome border-crossing operations could be. And how to use data to solve them. I also knew there had to be a solution to the issue of 2% revenue/98% problems. I started my new company as the solution. When in 2018, I coupled several neobanks’ models with the ideas I’d been turning over in my head… Silverbird was born.

But it happened in 2020, not 2018.

Still, I look back and I just don’t understand how neobanks raised their first money.

Imagine: a young guy talking to a VC in 2016 or 2017, “I’m going to found a bank that’s really a technology company. It will have a cool app and a cool brand. I think millions of people will switch over from their 100-year-old+ banks, and those banks will never catch up.”

Everyone would laugh.

But what happens with the wisdom that you need to be 10x better to disrupt? Doe sit still hold? I’d ask a different question: Are neobanks 10x better than the legacy bank even if functionally inferior?


Here’s an example: Barclay’s biggest innovation of the past decade was…

…making a search bar in their mobile app.

Is it enough for millions of customers to switch and never look back? Ask Revolut’s 30M customers.

Why haven’t high-street banks played catch up? Honestly, I don’t know. But they never do, do they?

A HUGE lesson for VCs.



Max Faldin

Founder & CEO of Silverbird | Serial Entrepreneur | Building a Digital Bank for Exporters & Importers |