• World Biz Magazine

SOHAIB ZAHID, CEO OF RAILZ - INTERVIEW WITH WBM TOP 100 INNOVATION CEO



SOHAIB ZAHID, CEO OF RAILZ HAS BEEN SELECTED BY THE JUDGES OF WORLD BIZ MAGAZINE'S ANNUAL AWARDS TO BE A RECIPIENT OF THE TOP 100 CEOS IN INNOVATION AWARD 2021. THIS SELECTION FOLLOWS A STRINGENT PROCESS THAT EVALUATED OVER 40,000 NOMINEES TO SELECT THE EXCLUSIVE LIST OF 100 WINNERS.


Sohaib Zahid is the Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer at Railz. Sohaib is a serial entrepreneur with a decade of successful experience in building teams, products and companies. He focuses on Sales and Marketing. Prior to founding Railz, Sohaib founded Vanhawks, where he led product, sales and operations. Vanhawks was acquired in 2016. Originally from Pakistan, Sohaib dropped out of medical school to pursue entrepreneurship and is a strong believer in open access to data. Outside of work, Sohaib enjoys time with his family, and nerds out on air-cooled engines.





"At Railz, we are unlocking the potential of accounting data to better service small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)."


What is Railz's mission?


At Railz, we are unlocking the potential of accounting data to better service small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). The financial industry can offer more products and services with Railz data. Ultimately, we are on a mission to make the financial system fairer with data-driven decisions.



Why is your solution important?


The COVID19 pandemic has shown that SMEs are the backbone of this economy. Financial institutions were not ready to service SME customers when the branches closed down and the relationship with the SME was severed with the closing of the branches. A data-based digital relationship will never shut down, regardless of any natural disaster. Open banking and ownership of the data is the talk of the town and Railz is democratizing the SME financial data which is a push in the direction of open banking.



Sohaib Zahid, CEO & Derek Manuge, CTO - co founders of Railz

"Every company is becoming a fintech company - you can see this through new trends that are quickly adopted by the marketing. A recent example is the Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) offering. Fintech solutions are being rolled into financial services and products."


What is the biggest ongoing shift in your industry?


Banks are highly dependent on financial technology (fintech) companies for digital banking experience and we will see some big acquisitions in the space. In general, accounting and payment firms are encroaching the bank's turf with new digital offerings.


Every company is becoming a fintech company - you can see this through new trends that are quickly adopted by the marketing. A recent example is the Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) offering. Fintech solutions are being rolled into financial services and products.



How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected digitization in your industry?


Digitization is the key theme across the board. Digitization is being expedited. 10 year plans are converted to 5 year, and 5 year plans converted to 2 year deployment timelines.



What is the driving force behind your passion for Railz?

Solving problems for the masses. Our work at Railz is effectively going to make the lives of 30M+ businesses better.



Railz leadership team


What can we expect to see next from Railz?


Expand offerings to include companies outside the financial sector i.e. product companies like Pepsi and Coca Cola can use our benchmarking to understand their customers better. Bloomberg or Thompson Reutuers can use our data for research purposes.



What excites you about your work in open finance?


What’s most exciting about our industry is that Railz is laying the groundwork for open finance.



"Networks have always been core to the web, and networked business models have driven much of the value creation of the last decade and a half. Web3's push towards decentralized networks and broader inclusion is more than a technological idea; it is a cultural one. Decentralization is also not a new idea. It has been embedded in the fabric of the web from its inception. Web3 is a return to its foundational principles."


What technologies do you expect to play a leading role in the coming years?


Decentralization and Web 3.0. Networks have always been core to the web, and networked business models have driven much of the value creation of the last decade and a half. Web3's push towards decentralized networks and broader inclusion is more than a technological idea; it is a cultural one. Decentralization is also not a new idea. It has been embedded in the fabric of the web from its inception. Web3 is a return to its foundational principles.


The web3 foundation defines web3 as "a decentralized and fair internet where users control their own data, identity and destiny.” Financial data will see full potential when owners of the data are involved in the transaction. This is going to be the evolution of open finance.



What are the biggest external challenges for the financial industry?


Global health crisis is definitely the one to keep an eye on, and economic exclusion is detrimental to the financial industry.



About Railz

Railz is building the foundation for the future of finance with the largest financial data network. Railz is a fintech startup created by two former tech founders. They were inspired to solve this problem by building a solution that would automate the data collection and analysis process so that accounting data could be used for real-time decision-making - all through an easy-to-implement API. Railz is supported by stellar investors and advisors.


www.railz.ai