When Liam Brennan-Burke ’17 first joined Harley in Grade 6, he was already thinking about invoicing. He had started his own lawn mowing business that year, “Liam’s Lawn Service,” and wanted to figure out how to easily bill his neighborhood customers and receive payments from them. So he learned some basic Excel, which helped him organize services, payments, and accounting. He sent out paper invoices and received checks back in the mail. It worked well for an 11-year old running a business, but was not the most efficient in terms of payment processes.
Throughout high school and college, Liam had the opportunity to learn more about financial technology. He was first exposed to “mobile wallets” and companies like M-Pesa that were at the frontier of peer-to-peer payment while doing an independent study with his sister, Erin Brennan-Burke ‘15, in Malawi and Tanzania. While in college at Claremont McKenna, Liam returned to East Africa to intern for a tech startup in Uganda. At SafeBoda (think Uber for motorcycles), he did operations/product work and learned more about mobile wallets since the ride-hailing app’s drivers used them to accept funds for completed rides. His junior year internship at a Buy-Now-Pay-Later fintech company involved working with four engineers and developing a web extension for credit cards. These experiences showed Liam the power of financial products and cemented his interest in the space.
Liam kept coming back to the issue he had repeatedly seen throughout his experiences: business payments were fundamentally fragmented, inefficient, and expensive. To address this problem, Liam co-founded Paysail, which leverages stablecoins to enable instant, global B2B invoicing and payments—with transactions taking five seconds and costing $0.001 to process. Paysail just closed its seed round of funding, raising $4M (from Uncork Capital, Tribe Capital, PearVC, and angel investors) and was featured in TechCrunch.
Liam says building Paysail with his co-founder and growing team is “incredibly rewarding as it constantly challenges him in new ways.” He says Paysail is working to reimagine the old invoice system and “questions the why behind the how” of traditional banking. He believes that stablecoins can provide a global bridge with no borders between economies and geographies while connecting to local and national banking solutions.
While many of us are still confused about cryptocurrency, Liam took a moment to try and simplify. “Cryptocurrencies are digital assets not backed by a central authority that can be used as a medium of exchange. Transactions are recorded on the blockchain, which is essentially a decentralized ledger.”
Where does Harley fit into all this? Well, Liam says at Harley, students are encouraged to challenge themselves in new ways, engage with ideas, and work creatively and collaboratively. He remembers fondly, and is incredibly thankful for, all of the phenomenal faculty and staff at Harley who supports students inside and outside of the classroom. Liam believes “Harley is truly a special community that prepares students for academic success, but also gives them the freedom and skillsets to pursue their passions.”