Before we dive in, please note that a lot of what was said could not be shared due to national security 😉 But never fear, we’ve done our best to bring you Vyne Co-founder & COO Damien Cahill. So what happens when a former detective enters the world of payments? All we can say is he’s part man and part machine. There’s mental fortitude, his home in Italy, twists when you least expect it, and someone who is truly invested in Vyne and its people. Even Al Pacino makes a cameo! Hold on tight, brew a cuppa and buckle up for the ride!
Can you clear up the rumours and tell us where the name Vyne comes from?
We were in Italy when a few of us came together to start Vyne. At that point we owned a few domains, and Vyne was one of them. We discussed this idea over a bottle of wine: the idea of a vine being about growth and the quality of the production that goes into making wine. We also toyed with the name ‘cassa’, which means pay point in Italian and a play on ‘casa’ which means home because we wanted to find a home for our products and us as a team. In the end, “Vyne” felt right and really resonated with us.
Favourite three things about Vyne?
It’s rewarding for me personally to work with such amazing talent and watch the thought processes go from paper, then to collaboration and ultimately to producing fantastic products and features. It’s a great group of people and you’re always learning from each other.
I hate to use the term ‘expert’ because it implies that you already know everything about your subject and there's nothing left to learn. I prefer the term ‘experienced’. I gain more experience by working with the wonderful group of people that we’ve brought together here at Vyne.
Let’s talk about payments. Thoughts?
I've seen things both as a consumer and as someone working in driving change in the payments landscape. Cards have evolved from swiping, signature, pin, and then moving to contactless. And now we are seeing a shift from contactless to mobile devices.
There’s an increasing relevance of alternative payment methods. I see consolidation taking place where the number of payment methods will eventually come together to form a more convenient method of payment for the consumer.
We’ll see this happen increasingly on mobile devices. I mean, ask anyone out there if they'd be comfortable leaving the house without their mobile phone. The answer would be no. I see a mobile world consolidating payments to be simpler, easier and even more convenient. In terms of security, it will be the most secure way of carrying your payment methods around and executing payments.
There is also so much we can learn from various countries and cultures. We have to be cognisant of the different ways people pay in different countries. If we look at the traditional payments, evolution would be cash to cheque, cheque to card and then to mobile. Looking at Africa, there are many countries there that skipped all of this and went from cash straight to mobile. So rather than try to change how things work and bend the system, adapt and invest accordingly. Due to circumstances in my working career, I’ve lived in South America, Asia Pacific and continental Europe. There’s always something to learn. (Louder please Mr. Cahill 🌍)
Why should businesses adopt Open Banking as a payment method?
Let’s cut to the chase. For merchants the whole purpose of business, apart from personally challenging yourself and perhaps doing what you're passionate about, is making money.
So if there’s a new emerging payment method that actually speaks to what the consumer wants, saves your business money, and improves your operational flow through quicker settlement or better reconciliation, it’s more a question of why wouldn't you use it? Yes, payments are just one part of your business, but what we deliver is both an incremental and also significant improvement in quite a few areas of the business for merchants.
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned in your career?
For me, it’s about ‘never saying never’. If you always believe things cannot be done and you constantly reinforce it, you won’t do things or achieve things. You have to coach yourself mentally and challenge yourself to go nine or ten extra steps every time. You never know what’s around the corner. If you don't go, you won't know,
I've also worked in both large and small teams. In a large team, it can be very easy to start treating people like numbers and that’s never good. In the police, I predominantly worked in teams consisting of about 6 -18 people because of the nature of the work. We really got to know each other. We knew each other's skill-sets and developed what I would call blind trust in each other and as a result, we delivered amazing results in highly pressured environments. It was the same thing in my team at Worldpay and this is how we work here at Vyne also.
We have highly trained, highly capable people who are tight-knit and committed. I have not experienced such a high level of esprit de corps since leaving the “job”. We spend more time at work than with our families sometimes so ultimately, treat your colleagues as family, take care of them and they will take care of you.
What made you go into the police?
I come from a family of cops – my dad, my mum and six other generations. My parents actually worked together and would drive around holding hands under the dashboard. I ended up becoming a detective and investigated serious crime, organised crime, and then you have more covert work, which I can’t go into much detail about. Let’s end that with ‘no comment’. 😉
Working in the police was a great challenge, and I don’t think anyone who joins does it to get rich. You never know what’s going to happen on any given day. I've walked into a police station to start my shift and straight into a murder investigation.
Other times, I’ve walked into admin and paperwork that took me 10 hours to get done. The team spirit is great and it’s something that has always resonated with me. I've always linked police work and being innovative. My dad was the first recorded Detective Seargent to use forensic odontology to convict a murderer.
Any advice for anyone wanting to get into fintech or payments?
Some people view payments as a dry subject because at the end of the day it’s moving money from one point to another. Actually, when you start getting into it, you can learn about how people behave, why they do what they do, spending patterns, and what’s hot and what’s not.
I have two bits of advice for anyone looking to get into fintech or payments. Firstly, lift your horizons to the art of what the possible is and secondly, read everything you can, digest it, understand it and question it.
In an alternate universe, in which you don’t go in payments and the police, what will you be doing?
Actually, my mum was a nurse before she worked in the police. Both my parents are quite entrepreneurial (RIP Dad), and my mum had a very successful business in healthcare after the police. I get my entrepreneurial spirit from them. Because of her business, I spent a lot of time around doctors and developed an interest in oncology.
At around 13 or 14 years old, I wanted to become a paediatric oncologist. My Latin wasn't good enough at school, which is kind of ironic because I'm fluent in Italian now. Bit of a weird one. My mum and my entire family are very important to me.
Even though my mum has not met anyone at Vyne, she knows everyone by name from the office photos I share with her. Even at 87 she still asks me about our strategy and Total Payment Volume. I would definitely say my mother’s work ethic shaped mine. (She is now Vyne’s mum, Damien! 🥰)
Favourite place to go on holiday?
My home in Italy is a holiday spot. For a chilled and relaxing holiday for my wife and I, it would be Amsterdam. We have loads of friends there and love spending an afternoon at the theatre and having a stroll along the canals. For more buzz and pizzazz, we head to London or New York.
What's your superpower?
I’ve been told that I’m somewhat of a good mimic of the comedian Micky Flanagan and the actor Al Pacino. (we’ve heard it and can confirm this is indeed true 🏆. He also does a great impression of his favourite actor of all time, Marlon Brando, especially his character in The Godfather.) 🎉
What are people often surprised to know about you?
I think people would be surprised to know I grow roses as a hobby. I have two very mature rose beds which I fawn over. My wife works long hours and I don’t like to go to bed without seeing her, so I stay up and listen to jazz with the office dogs, Rio and Zach.
Finally, your top 5 songs /books/tv programs?
I love Line of Duty and The Wire, the only two realistic cop shows out there. Surprisingly, La La Land is one of my favourite movies. My Wife and I watched it in Boston and I found the ending incredibly poignant.
I read a lot of autobiographies and I'm fascinated by World War 2 history. I loved Reach For The Sky by Paul Brickhill about a pilot named Douglas Bader who lost both his legs but continued to fly and became the Squadron Leader of 242 Squadron, a fighter ace and escaped Colditz Castle… twice! I’ve read a lot about Operation Market Garden. One of my favourite movies called A Bridge Too Far is based on this operation, which took place in Holland in 1944. 10,000 lightly equipped airborne troops parachuted in for what was to be two days of fighting. Ten days later less than 2,000 walked out but they had changed the course of the war and shocked a, then, aggressive nation with pure grit. They walked those extra steps and then some.