Monday 12 April 2021 11:32 am

Profile: A global payments chief on a mission to disrupt

Tom Cregan, the managing director and CEO of digital payments giant EML, is a heavy metal drummer and martial arts enthusiast on a mission to infuse rhythmic harmony into the world of payments.

His favourite part of any day as chief executive is, what he calls, finding a ”1+1=5 moment” by thinking and approaching an aspect of the business differently.

”Problem-solving is such a cliche, but that is the best definition of a good day as a CEO. Thinking up a use case or asking how can we transform a business process,” Cregan told City A.M. this morning.

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He does not have to think long about the question of what keeps him awake at night.

”Honestly, nothing – I sleep soundly at night. I don’t spend my time wondering what could go wrong. If something goes wrong, the person whose job it is to deal with that is more technically minded and qualified to handle it. I know they bring their A-game to fix any potential issues, fast,” Cregan said.

“If it’s a more significant issue, then they will move to Plan B. I don’t spend any night fretting about the business.”

“Instead, I spend time figuring out where our company will be in 3 and 5 years from now versus what could hypothetically blow up in our face today? I focus on thinking about a vertical that could be huge that doesn’t yet exist.”

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Cregans company recently made investments in two disrupters with global ambitions, Interchecks and Hydrogen. The rationale behind the deals?

“We think of ourselves as disruptors. We’re disrupting fast because there are people who want to disrupt us.”

Cregan is optimistic about the next three years.

”It’s about having conversations with investors and entrepreneurs who can see the next big thing coming down the line before anyone else. You always hope you get it right, and an idea goes big. The robust global alignment of all of our technology infrastructure is a current priority.”

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He sees the future of payments looking very different from the industry as it is today. ”I predict a whole new series of payment scheme rail tracks on the way in the next five years from distributed ledger to Blockchain technology. We need to be ready for this shift, now.”

“The alternative is waiting 5 years and seeing how we missed out on a range of opportunities,” Cregan added.

”There are people out there way smarter than us. By working with them and investing, we’ll now benefit by being at the cutting edge. You could spend a lot of money on consultants, or we can back good, collegial people.”

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Elon Musk

So what makes the CEO of this listed company tick? Cregan enthusiastically jumped at answering the question.

“You don’t have to climb Everest every day, but you can add some value each day, and it accumulates and hopefully compounds by thinking outside the box. When you go above and beyond and give your clients something they never banked on – that’s gold.”

Asked which global business titan he admires the most, Cregan firmly believes that Elon Musk will save the planet.

“‘Space X is a fantastic business model with reuseable rockets and Tesla electric cars. Elon is an ambitious visionary and a creative force of nature. He’s an incredibly persistent big pitcher, and he backs himself. What’s not to admire?”

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