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Supplier satisfaction through digital disruption


Supplier satisfaction through digital disruption



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C2FO is using digitally disruptive technology to achieve supplier satisfaction, as Iain Rolfe, Managing Director Australia, and New Zealand, explains


ith any true disruption, the most impactful are those that are the simplest,” says Iain Rolfe, Managing Director, Australia,

and New Zealand at C2FO. Rolfe is referencing the considerable success of C2FO, an innovative business that turns receivables into cash flow through an 04

online platform that offers customers the opportunity to take total control of their capital, improve cash flow on demand and earn no-risk returns. “In the most basic terms, we match accounts receivable to accounts payable, presenting to market a win-win proposition for businesses that have money owed to them, and those who invest in their supply chain,” says Rolfe. To facilitate this, C2FO operates a cloud-based marketplace where suppliers can name a discount rate on selected invoices in exchange for their early payment. As with many businesses, C2FO was born out of necessity by founder and present-day CEO Sandy Kemper nearly 10 years ago in response to a financial system he viewed as broken. The issue encountered by Kemper was that “intermediaries such as banks had, over time, assumed a position DECEMBER 2019


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between a buyer and supplier, which had slowed down the entire process. That’s really the reason that what we offer is considered disruptive. It shouldn’t be, but we’re working in a financial system that is fundamentally broken. We’ve fixed that problem and changed the way the system works. It should never be hard for a supplier to be paid early if needed­– if we started again with no system, there’s no way we would design a similar one.” Under Kemper, C2FO has expe06

rienced considerable success. According to Rolfe, the business is now in “a phase of very rapid and significant international growth”, including in Australia. Expansion into Australia began in the summer of 2018, when C2FO began building a physical presence in a market where it already served several large corporates. Rolfe is currently focused on accelerating this growth and “doubling down on the market”. This is being aided by AU$200mn funding from Japanese conglomerate SoftBank, announced in August this year. The investment was primarily designed to accelerate the DECEMBER 2019

“The simple fact that 92% of those that engage with our platform are getting less than their next best alternative is phenomenal” — Iain Rolfe Managing Director Australia & New Zealand, C2FO

CLICK TO WATCH : ‘C2FO ON THEIR AUSTRALIAN VENTURE’ 07 development of new markets for C2FO so that it could better provide small and medium enterprises, as well as multinational corporations, with access to working capital. It also saw Nahoko Hoshino of SoftBank Investment Advisers join C2FO’s board of directors. “SoftBank only invests in organisations that have good or unique prospects,” elaborates Rolfe. “The investment has given us the ability to do new things with the extra resources required to grow. For me, that means continued international expansion, bringing the model to new w w w.c 2 fo . com . a u


“There’s no downside to what we do – no one loses” — Iain Rolfe Managing Director Australia & New Zealand, C2FO 08

markets—particularly focusing on Asia,

C2FO generates income through

where I am based—and investing for

invoice discounts provided by suppliers.

the long-term.”

Viewed on financial terms returns are

A mark of this focus on expansion

significantly greater than other invest-

is the company’s recent acquisition of

ment alternatives, particularly in the

Priority Vendor, its largest competitor in

current low interest rate environment.

India, which Rolfe says positions C2FO

However, the most impactful return is

as the largest platform in that market.

the ability to help suppliers with their

C2FO’s platform enables compa-

working capital needs. Ultimately this

nies—vendors and enterprises—to take

leads to closer and more collaborative

greater control of their money. For the

relationships over a longer timeframe.

former, it provides improved cash flow

“One real issue we look to contend

on-demand provided directly from their

with is that suppliers often don’t feel

own customers. For the latter, engaging

they can open conversations about




Iain Rolfe Iain is Country Managing Director, Australia, and New Zealand at C2FO. He has a 20-year proven track record of achieving aggressive sales targets, improving organisational performance, and reaching business goals, as well as deep expertise with the strategic impact of technology disruption, the sales process, incubating new organisational functions, constructing complex customer deals, and managing strategic change. At C2FO, he is tasked with leading the expansion of the business into Australia, New Zealand and ASEAN.

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receiving early payment—they are concerned as to how their customers would view such a request,” says Rolfe. “But they do it because they need that money. Without our model the only real options that exist, particularly for smaller vendors, are in the form of loans from a bank, credit cards, or borrowing from friends or family. In contrast, when they engage with us, they can organise the payment in an ‘arms-length’ way and at a price that works for them.” At the other end of the supply chain, 10

C2FO helps large enterprises achieve the best available return on their cash in a completely risk-free manner: once a supplier has been paid, that liability has been extinguished. “When you add these two factors together, it’s easy to understand why we’ve had approximately AU$250bn of early payment requests in the time we’ve existed, with nearly AU$20bn of total invoices approved,” comments Rolfe. “The scale and demand are high, but it works. It’s a win-win for all those involved.” Indeed, such is the success of C2FO’s platform to date that Rolfe admits to finding the results—including DECEMBER 2019


Year founded


Kansas City United States

300+ Number of employees

matching close to 92% of all requests for early payments—hard to believe. “It’s amazing,” he states. “Forget the technology involved, or the algorithms we use, the simple fact that 92% of those suppliers that engage with our platform access capital at a cost that is less than their next best alternative is phenomenal. It means we are providing truly great value to nearly all of the participants in our market.” Understandably, to offer such a service to users requires a complex and innovative technology platform capable w w w.c 2 fo . com . a u



of managing vast amounts of data. C2FO runs its platform using all of the world’s major cloud services, and utilises several proprietary algorithms that operate to match offers to acceptances, all of which have been refined during the last 10 years of operation. “You can’t operate what we do without those algorithms being at such a maturity—it brings capability that really is at the next level of sophistication,” states Rolfe. He also points to a focus on ensur12

ing the highest levels of customer

Guests and partners joined C2FO for a ceremony to formally announce the investment from Softbank. Funds from this round will be used across the globe to drive organic growth

experience, describing the model and user-interface as “careful, elegant and simple”. Delivering such a seamless solution is the result of high volumes of A/B testing, rigorous auditing and reporting, and dedication to the most stringent information protection. The latter, in particular, allows the business to be trusted by the world’s largest organisations, including 75 of the Fortune 500 and 11 of the Fortune 60 companies. “One of our most important metrics is supplier satisfaction,” he explains. “We measure it every day, as we have to be at the top of the tree. We actively DECEMBER 2019

“There’s an inherently strong culture in providing a service which is valuable across the working capital chain” — Iain Rolfe Managing Director Australia & New Zealand, C2FO

CLICK TO WATCH : ‘BUSINESSES AROUND THE WORLD LOVE C2FO’ 13 prioritise the supplier and buyer expe-

by an ethical standpoint of supplier

rience, with our philosophy being that


we want to be a good corporate citizen.

“It is quite astounding to be a part

The ability to do the right thing and to

of that,” affirms Rolfe. “In Australia we

really help is one of the key factors that

intend to scale in a way that offers a

drew me to C2FO initially— there’s an

win-win for buyers and suppliers. I can’t

inherently strong culture in providing

see a scenario where we’re not suc-

a service which is valuable across the

cessful—there’s no downside to what

working capital chain.”

we do—no one loses.”

At any one time, the volume of payments that are due globally is upwards of the $42trn mark. C2FO has taken a sizeable step towards not only reducing that figure, but doing it in a manner that is driven w w w.c 2 fo . com . a u

C2FO 119 Willoughby Road Crows Nest New South Wales 2065 T +61 450 490 195

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C2FO December 2019  

C2FO December 2019