Michelle Beyo is the CEO & founder of FINAVATOR, an award-winning strategy firm focused on bridging the gap between Fintechs and traditional banks. Michelle is also a strategic advisor to multiple Fintechs, is a Money 20/20 RiseUp alumni, a Global Council Member for Women in Payments, the Membership Chair at Canadian Prepaid Providers Organization (CPPO), a Payment Advisor for National Crowdfunding and Fintech Association (NCFA), as well as a Board Member at Open Banking Initiative of Canada (OBIC).
Passionate about enabling financial inclusion, faster payments as well as driving Open Banking forward, Michelle started FINAVATOR. She has over 20 years of extensive industry experience driving innovation across the retail and payments industry. Michelle was named “Rising Star” by Women in Payments 2018, as well as one of the “Top 30 Best CEOs of 2021” by The Silicon Valley Review and FINAVATOR was also recently awarded “Most Influential Leader in Fintech Consulting – Canada” in 2020.
The Journey to FINAVATOR
For Michelle Beyo, the two biggest risks that she has taken were to leave the corporate world after 20+ years to start her own company. After building the confidence to apply to Money 20/20’s RiseUp program; Money 20/20 is known for being the organizer of one of the largest payments and financial services innovation events across the world. In July 2019, Michelle learned the exciting news that she won one of only thirty global spots out of five hundred applicants to join Money 20/20’s RiseUp program in Las Vegas. Michelle’s experience at Money 20/20 inspired Michelle to take the risk to go after her lifelong dream of becoming a CEO and starting her own company – FINAVATOR. Building a company overnight with no funding was far from an easy task. Even though Michelle had always dreamed of becoming a CEO, this was a particularly hard decision because, at the time, her family lived on only one income. Yet, Michelle knew that life was too short to not take risks and follow her dreams as her best friend of 26 years passed away after a 4-year battle with colon cancer at the age of 36.
She quickly bootstrapped the company and launched it in less than a week, announcing to the world via LinkedIn her latest endeavor. Michelle was able to secure over 100 followers in 2 weeks and her first client within a month. She was excited to give back and use her knowledge and incredible network to push Fintech companies and open banking forward.
FINAVATOR holds a unique position within the financial services space, helping to create a more collaborative ecosystem by bringing stakeholders together to build innovative products and services for consumers. FINAVATOR’s team has expertise in a variety of areas including Open Banking, Payments & Prepaid Solutions, Challenger Banks, Micro Loans, Rewards, Loyalty Solutions, and Financial Marketing.
With traditional banks, Michelle and her team help evaluate Fintechs to find the best innovation partners for our clients in order to help them expand their customer base. When working with Fintechs, they are passionate about driving growth through helping build innovative products, strategic marketing, and enterprise partnerships to reach new customer segments.
FINAVATOR has been able to help drive innovative products to market that offer consumers the opportunity to save and budget more effectively to reach their financial goals. . As an example, Michelle worked directly with founders at Treasure Financial to help them launch a Canadian budgeting app for kids. Using a prepaid card, Treasure Financial enables a way for parents to teach kids about money by sending them an allowance via a digital and or physical card. This was a big achievement as Treasure Financial is one of the first prepaid reloadable cards that can be used by kids 6-12.
Michelle has also helped enable a number of key partnerships as well as build innovative products and services that help consumers in addition to creating growth and opportunities for some of North America’s leading Fintechs.
Michelle had the opportunity to speak as a payment industry expert at many global events, including being the keynote at the Cyber Security & Risk event on Open Banking as well as being on the main stage at Money 20/20 where she discussed her work/ life balance. She was also involved in a number of other panel discussions which included topics such as the future of payments at events including Open Finance 2020, the Payment Summit, Women Future Conference, Fintech Summit, and many more.
Issues that Michelle Cares about
Michelle has spent many years supporting organizations that help empower women to rise up – whether it be in their personal or professional lives. She holds volunteer roles on the Global Council, and is also on the award committee for Women in Payments as well as being a Money 20/20 RiseUp alumni. Michelle is also a part of Women in Blockchain, Women in Digital Identity, and many more.
She is always working towards equal representation both in terms of gender and diversity at every organization that she joins. Within FINAVATOR and across the different boards and initiatives that she is a part of, Michelle believes that advocating for gender equity and diversity is a necessity for challenging gender stereotypes, amplifying a variety of voices, and ensuring equal opportunity practices. When Michelle is asked to moderate a panel or is a speaker, she makes it a priority to assemble a panel that is diverse.
She was honored with the opportunity to join her first board seat over this last year, and before accepting the offer, she requested that the board at Open Banking Initiative of Canada (OBIC) consider implementing a 50/50 gender diversity initiative which was accepted as their 2021 goal. As a board member at OBIC, she is extremely honored to hold the co-director seat and to also help steer the organization to educate, connect industry players, and to drive the important message that Open Banking is a force for good for Canadian consumers, SMEs, and the entire Canadian financial ecosystem.
Michelle has also participated for the past six years in the 10 KM run in honor of her best friend, Shannon Phair – a passionate artist who was only 36 when she left this world – at the #Pushforyourtush event to help fight colon cancer where she has raised over $50K as the lead of Shannon’s Shamrock team.
A Force for Good through Open Banking
As the CEO of FINAVATOR, Michelle works passionately to help Fintech expand faster, banks drive innovation, as well as move the open banking discussion forward. She believes that open banking is critical to empower consumers, competition, and innovation as well as helping Canada stay competitive on a global scale as the world moves towards open finance.
Michelle has expanded her reach to also be known as an expert and advocate for Open Banking as a board member for OBIC. As a global movement, Open Banking empowers consumers with control over their financial data using open APIs that enable third parties to build innovative products and services. Michelle believes Open Banking can be a force for good, she is the co-creator and host of OBIC’s Open Banking Insights Series that is moderated by the honorable and independent Senator Colin Deacon. The current ten-part series highlights the advantages and challenges in both the UK and Canada, which just released their own road map for Open Banking on August 4th, 2021. The series includes guest speakers such as HSBC, EQ Bank, Interac, Revolut, OBIE, the Competition Bureau of Canada, the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC), and many more. Michelle Beyo was recently named a finalist for the Open Banking Pioneer Award at Open Banking Expo’s Open Banking Awards for her commitment and contribution to this initiative.