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Meet the Advisory Board – Maria Harris, Digital Cat Consultancy

Ryan Walsh / 6th December 2021

Maria Harris is one of our valued advisory board here at FinTech North. We recently sat down with her to give her an opportunity to introduce herself and Digital Cat Consultancy to our community.

A link to the full interview can be found here, or by clicking on the image below.

Tell us about yourself and Digital Cat!

“Most people know me from the mortgages sector as it’s where I’ve spent the last 15 years. Before that I managed contact centres for British Airways. Like most people, I fell into the banking industry working for HBoS, managing mortgages; mortgage distribution and ended up staying there for the last 15/16 years.”

“I was part of the team who set up Atom bank, designing the UK’s first digital mortgage. Brand new mortgage, brand new tech on a blank sheet of paper – develop an app built to deliver the best customer experience. I had an absolute blast and it’s one of the nicest things I’ve ever done. It was such a lovely success story as well.”

“I left Atom bank 2 years ago because I found that there was lots of people who were asking me – ‘how did you do that?’ ‘How does Atom bank work?’ ‘How did you use the technology?’ ‘We want to digitise ours and improve our customer journey.’”

“So I set up Digital Cat Consultancy. I work with mortgage technology providers, lenders and anyone who is in the mortgage industry. Just to work out how they have a better customer experience and help them find technology solutions. I help companies digitise their mortgage journey and make the journey better internally and externally.”

“I am also a non-exec director sitting on the board at United Trust Bank, a specialist bank in London, and I sit on the board at South Tees NHS. I do some board advisory roles for start-ups and FinTech North. I also chair the technology subgroup for the home buying and selling entity, which is a government industry initiative trying to fix the home buying and selling process.”

What do you think about FinTech North and what are your views on the community?

“From a FinTech North perspective, I just want us to open us as many of those opportunities as we can to make people aware of how attractive the region is.”

“I want to do my bit to make that legacy sustainable and just to lift the economy and the wellbeing of the people that live here in County Durham. Hopefully it inspires the future generation and ensures that they don’t have to move away to pursue a career.”

What do you see as the main opportunities for FinTech?

“We’re not very good at blowing our own trumpet. That’s what I love about FinTech North – it’s such a good showcase to get people to share everything that’s going on.

“There is an explosion of stuff happening in the North currently. Even off the back of COP26, you’ve seen all the announcements of all the new businesses, new industries that are moving up here – companies that support the green agenda. Those all create opportunities for creative banking solutions and funding for really good customer propositions that use financial technology to drive something that has a good customer outcome.”

“We’ve seen a lot of work with R+D at universities, things like the Helix in Newcastle – how we use data, AI and machine learning to help people be more financially educated and savvy; creating a better and more sustainable financial economy.”

“There’s a lot of government initiatives. Things like digital identity and payments – we are seeing a lot of creativity up here in the North.

We thank Maria Harris and Digital Cat for their support. Digital Cat’s website can be found here.

Additionally, our full advisory board can be found here. 

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