Purge of ‘local toffs’ at Comcarde as the company seeks £3m to grow ahead of financial app launch

By Ian Fraser

Published: Sunday Herald

Date: 16 November 2014

maxresdefault (1)An Inverness-based fi­nancial ­technology (fintech) company that aims to take the global smartphone payment apps market by storm has purged its board of four well-connected Highland businessmen as it seeks to raise £3 million to ­accelerate its growth.

Comcarde, founded in January by Jim Goodman, a former salesman and painter and decorator, has already attracted more than £400,000 in seed funding from the Stagecoach co-founder Ann Gloag, who invested through her Highland and Universal Investments vehicle, along with more than 40 other high-net-worth individuals from around Inverness. The firm intends to launch a revolutionary payment app under the Bridge name early next year.

Goodman said: “We have developed a transparent payment system that does not put anyone at risk of cybercrime and has the potential to be an industry first. To take the company to the next level, we needed a team with more background in this industry.”

Goodman said Comcarde’s Bridge app offers greater security than rival products as it does not transfer financial details and does not actually hold money.

“It’s a secure messaging system that, using tokens to enable payments, allows SMEs and occasional sales­people to have one system to cover all their needs. Bridge does not add any percentage to transaction fees, as we see this as an outdated and unfair process for users.”

In August, the company hired Neira Jones, former head of payment ­security at Barclaycard, as non-­executive chairman. She also chairs the advisory board of mobile payments firm Ensygnia and thinktank the Centre for Strategic Cybercrime & Security Science.

External advisers to Comcarde recently recommended that, to enhance its credibility with prospective investors, the company needed people with greater experience of financial technology start-ups on its board. This precipitated the departures of four of Comcarde’s founder directors on November 6, including Kit Fraser, owner of the Joy Of Taste restaurant and the Hootananny music venues in Inverness and Brixton.

Fraser stood as a candidate for the Ban Bankers’ Bonuses party in the 2011 Holyrood elections. He also stripped to his boxer shorts at Royal Bank of Scotland’s AGM in protest at the bank’s treatment of small firms.

Other departing directors were Joe Gibbs, founder of the Belladrum Tartan Heart and RockNess music festivals, Ossian Moncreiffe, son of former United Auctions chairman Peregrine Moncreiffe – who is an investor in Comcarde – and Jonathan Wotherspoon, a lawyer with Inverness firm Macandrew & Jenkins.

Kit Fraser said departing directors remain shareholders and that the clearout was not acrimonious. He said: “We’re just local toffs. We’re not multinational business people.”

Writing in his blog last month, Goodman described his former team as “a motley crew” and a “group of idealists”.

The only three Comcarde ­directors who remained on the board were Jones, interim finance director Rupert Fraser, who is Comcarde’s second-largest shareholder with a 14% stake, and Goodman himself, who is the largest shareholder.

Comcarde currently has 13 staff in Inverness and Livingston, more than half of whom are qualified software engineers.

Goodman expects staff numbers to rise to 70 by 2016.

Short URL: https://www.ianfraser.org/?p=11653

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