Philip Belamant, CEO and Co-Founder of innovative payments company Zilch, was nominated for the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year award.
This November, business magnates from across England and Scotland will come together to celebrate one of the world’s most competitive business awards, Entrepreneur Of The Year™, at a celebration dinner. The advisory firm Ernst & Young organises this competition and has named the 22 regional winners — who span 20 businesses in technology, healthcare, consumer, and other sectors — as finalists for the prestigious competition. The judges selected each of these business leaders for their entrepreneurial spirit and achievements.
The Award shortlist features high-profile business names, from Zilch’s Co-founder and CEO Philip Belamant to the Founder of Gousto Timo Boldt, the CEO of The Real Good Dental Company Dr. Jagdeep Hans, the CEO of Learning Curve Group Brenda McLeish, and the CEO of Integrated Environmental Solutions Don McLean.
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The Entrepreneur Of The Year™ Programme
The Entrepreneur Of The Year™ Programme recognises and celebrates business leaders who create long-term value, reshape the future of their industries, and contribute purpose beyond profits. The competition whittles nominees down during regional heats and then announces its winner annually. Previous winners include renowned entrepreneurs like Sean O’Connor (the co-founder of Zilch), Ben Francis (the CEO of GymShark), and Steven Bartlett (the then-CEO of Social Chain).
Judges are currently selecting the 2022 UK Entrepreneur Of The Year™ winner. The high-profile business leaders on this year’s judging panel include the Founder and CEO of HomeServe PLC and Growth Partner LLP Richard Harpin, Founder and CEO of Unbound Shravin Bharti Mittal, Co-Founder and Co-Chair of National Care Group Jamil Mawji, and Group CEO of Moneypenny Joanna Swash.
The winner of the 2022 Award will go on to represent the UK at the Ernst & Young World Entrepreneur Of The Year™ ceremony in summer 2023. Some of the globe’s most inspirational entrepreneurs will gather at this event to celebrate the best of the best business leadership talent.
Competition aside, the programme organisers at Ernst & Young recognise how demanding and isolating entrepreneurship can be. Therefore, the Entrepreneur Of The Year™ programme also provides opportunities for leaders to network with like-minded individuals. These leaders can share their most pressing challenges and reflect on their successes.
Philip Belamant: The London and South-East Regional Winner
Ernst & Young has named the South-African fintech disruptor Philip Belamant as this year’s Entrepreneur Of The Year™ regional winner for London and the South-East. Philip Belamant is the CEO and co-founder of the payments company Zilch, which has evolved from its Series A to double unicorn status quicker than any other fintech in Europe. The company’s high-scale growth has attracted the attention of major investors, and, in summer 2022, Zilch extended its Series C by $50 million of equity, taking the company’s funding to over $460 million.
Zilch: A Consumer-Focused Payment Solution
While some of Zilch’s competitors have faced challenges as they try to stay afloat in the evolving payments industry, Zilch sits at the forefront of this evolution. The forward-thinking company has paved the way for change in the payments space by developing and consistently updating a payment system that protects and rewards consumers, especially amidst the cost-of-living crisis.
To protect consumers, Zilch combines the best of credit and debit, eliminating the risks that can come with credit, such as late fees, high interest rates, and other hidden costs. Instead, Zilch uses soft credit checks and sophisticated open banking technology to evaluate the affordability of each of its users in real-time. This way, Zilch can offer accurate recommendations of what each user can afford to borrow, which its state-of-the-art technology updates with every user’s transaction.
With Zilch, shoppers can spread the cost of their purchases across six weeks in four transactions at 0% APR. Alternatively, they can claim cashback of up to 5% when they pay in one transaction. They can then use this cashback to discount their future purchases. Consumers can enjoy these benefits when shopping with any of the 37 million merchants that accept MasterCard, whether in-store via the Tap and Pay feature or online.
The First Major Payment Provider to Gain an FCA Consumer Credit License
In a bid to reshape the debt and high-fee credit card market, which has mainly gone unchallenged since its 1950s origins, Philip Belamant has led Zilch to obtain an FCA full consumer credit license. Zilch soon became the first payments company to hit this milestone. The FCA commended Zilch’s low initial lending limits and rejection of compound interest, working closely with the payments company as Zilch completed the FCA’s Regulatory Sandbox Programme.
Zilch’s consumer credit license proved essential in June 2022 when the UK government responded to its 2021 consultation on the regulation of buy-now-pay-later (BNPL). This response introduced a system whereby BNPL companies must now secure FCA authorisation and complete affordability checks. Meanwhile, unregulated BNPL providers must comply with all FCA financial promotion regulations. Zilch had already implemented these measures in 2020, also preventing consumers from using credit cards to fund their repayments.
Philip Belamant’s Other Consumer-Focused Payment Products
Zilch isn’t the only transparent, customer-centric payment product that Philip Belamant has conceptualised. As a serial entrepreneur, Belamant has crafted a fleet of innovative payment solutions, each with the protection of consumers in mind. His early career efforts led to flourishing developments in South African markets, where he designed disruptive electronic payment systems for regions that lacked robust digital infrastructures. This way, he made it possible for millions of people to pay their bills and everyday goods digitally.
Philip Belamant’s first payments company, PBel, became the largest airtime service provider in Namibia in four months and soon became the largest in South Africa too. From here, Philip Belamant connected with outreach programmes like the MasterCard World Food Programme and the IFC World Food Programme to bring his inclusive payment solution into third-world countries, facilitating a net benefit to society at large.
On top of this, Philip Belamant worked with South Africa’s governments and central banks to modernise electronic value distribution regulations that involved airtime distribution and discounts. His work involved the gifting of free airtime and the development of technologies to understand consumers digitally and improve access to finance options for individuals who couldn’t obtain proof of residency.
Since developing these technologies, which have financially empowered individuals around the world, Philip Belamant has taken a similar approach with Zilch, which has enabled improved financial health and inclusion for over 2,500,000 individuals.
Ernst & Young Praise the Entrepreneur Of The Year™ Cohort
Ernst & Young’s Chief Operating Officer for the UK and Ireland and Entrepreneur Of The Year™ UK Partner Sponsor Lynn Rattigan has commended the 2022 programme cohort for embracing their responsibility as role models that inspire future generations.
“We thank them for making such a positive impact on their teams, the UK economy, and our communities,” she said.
Ernst & Young’s UK Private Tax Leader and Entrepreneur Of The Year™ UK Partner Lead Victoria Price has added that these leaders represent the breadth of business talent across the UK and praised their leadership efforts.
“These business leaders have shown me their drive, innovation, and ambition while also creating long-term value for their communities,” she said.
Meanwhile, Philip Belamant is delighted that Ernst and Young has recognised his entrepreneurial efforts in this year’s competition.
“I’m honoured that Ernst and Young, an advisor entrusted by the likes of Jeff Bezos and Tim Cook, has recognised us for the Entrepreneur of the Year™ award and truly goes to reflect the hard work of my brilliant team,” he said. “For more than three decades, EY have recognised audacious, industry-changing business leaders and entrepreneurs who disrupted industries and created new product categories. I wish all the shortlisted individuals the best of luck at the national ceremony.”
About Ernst and Young
Ernst & Young provides consulting, assurance, and tax and transaction services for some of the world’s biggest companies, including Google, Amazon, Apple, Netflix, Meta, and Time Warner. The firm operates in over 60 countries to build trust and confidence in capital markets and economies across the globe. Through the Entrepreneur Of The Year™ competition, Ernst and Young showcases the achievements of individuals and companies who demonstrate trailblazing leadership, visions, and success.
Zilch empowers consumers around the world by allowing them to pay for anything, anywhere. The payments company is revolutionising the outdated BNPL industry with pioneering payment products that help consumers manage their cash flow responsibly. Having seen 2.5 million users sign up for the payment solution over its first 18 months, Zilch scaled doubly as quickly as some of its competitors. Today, 250,000 shoppers sign up to use Zilch each month. In line with this growth, more than 250 employees now work for Zilch across its offices in London, Miami, and Krakow.