Voices of Nium with John Taylor, Head of Airlines at Nium

6 Minute read
1 month ago

John Taylor, Nium’s Head of Airlines, is the next Nium’er in the hot seat for our Voices of Niumseries, a feature that serves to showcase our incredibly talented global team members, who grind day-in and day-out to power the on-demand economy. Having spent almost 5 years in the Nium network, we invite you to get closer acquainted with John, our resident airline crackerjack, who is based at our office in London’s Square Mile. 

John is perhaps best described as a gentle giant. With a head on his shoulders packed with a deep enthusiasm for Travel Payments, he was also awarded as “Class Comedian” for Nium’s 2023 Year-End Awards. Although a people-person through and through, and a cornerstone Nium team member, John spends as much of his free time as possible on the golf course, or with his best pal, Ollie, a handsome Labrador Retriever.  

  1. Your career has been embedded in payments, but you found your groove in Airlines/Travel payments, more specifically, in 1999. What spurred the change? 

I spent the first 12 years of my career in the banking branch network and then I moved into payments. When I reached the glass ceiling as a branch manager, I was eager to sink my teeth into a new challenge. The birth of my daughter, my second child, gave me additional momentum to continue to grow my career. Then, “hello” fintech! 

  1. Having worked with legacy banks such as NatWest and the Royal Bank of Scotland, and later fintechs like WorldPay and Nium, how would you say the two industries compare? We assume fintech is now your jam! 

Fintech is, indeed, my fix now. The transition from legacy banking to fintech was initially challenging to navigate. I joined the industry back in the noughties when true fintech was still young and unchartered within the payments space. For me, the real learning began in 2010 when Worldpay became a private equity-owned organisation, moving away from the Royal Bank of Scotland. There was an immediate call to action to adopt a fresh culture, capability from a product and technical perspective, operational excellence and an organisational structure fit for the times ahead. Based on great leadership, a great mindset, clear goals, open communication, and fantastic people, the journey was simultaneously exciting, challenging and extremely rewarding. 

  1. In your opinion, what are the current biggest customer pain points in travel?  

There are five core challenges; cost as low margins exist, acceptance of payments can hinder productivity, processing and funding issues, fraud and access to data.  

  1. How does Nium’s travel proposition serve to solve these problems? 

Nium offers an unmatched diverse product portfolio with multiple options for industry-based challenges for cost and acceptance. We have a plethora of currencies across all card products and achieve operational excellence with one single API integration. I think what differentiates us from competitors most is our extensive features ensuring full comfort and security as well as broad reach for processing and local funding through globalisation. 

  1. Nium Airline Payments (NAP) is a solution you are particularly proud of spearheading and developing alongside Nium’s Travel team. Can you tell me about NAP’s unique value proposition?   

NAP is an innovative closed-loop solution that connects the Travel buyer (agent) and seller (airline) in a uniquely beneficial way. The airline would have lower costs and settlement efficiencies whilst the agent would have guaranteed acceptance, sustainable commercials, and quicker rebates in an industry scenario in which challenges surrounding these topics exist. NAP alleviates friction by driving collaboration between the airline and agent whilst also removing all other intermediaries within a typical transaction flow. 

  1. Nium acquired travel payments optimisation leader, Ixaris, in Malta, in 2021. You have been part of this evolution. What makes our Malta team unique?  

Our team in Malta are not only the engine room for the day-to-day running of the Nium Travel business but also are the true innovator enablers, our conscience, our expertise, our source of customer excellence, our peace of mind to deliver no matter how challenging, and our source of strength in a competitive landscape.  

  1. What’s the “gold nugget” piece of advice you offer to Travel Business Development newbies when they first start their Nium career path? 

This would be threefold: 

  • Have a passion to learn – its key to understand the customer, their environment, and the industry trends to succeed and gain credibility. 

  • Have patience – the travel industry is traditionally a slow-moving beast with reliance on legacy technology, on cross-functional communication and subsequently a reluctance to increase complexity.  

  • Be willing to be agile and push the boundaries – a key requirement to break down barriers whilst adapting to the global nature of the industry. 

  1. Travelling for work is different than travelling for pleasure but having travelled all over the world for work. Where is your favourite destination and why? 

Dubai! I have travelled there so often that I’ve seen the evolution from desert plains to a large city over the past two decades. It’s a great destination for business and for leisure. As a keen golfer, I’m also a big fan of their golf courses. 

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