May We Introduce: Markus Rupprecht of Traxpay AG
The following is an English translation of an article originally published by PBA Experts GmbH for an installment in the series, “The Faces of the FinTech Industry,”posted November 9, 2017, by Nicole Nitsche. The original article, written in German, can be found here.
By widespread consensus, working in the FinTech industry requires a high level of professionalism in an informal work environment, and is driven by innovation, and good, smart, forward-thinking ideas. But who are the very heads and creators behind these creative thinking processes, at the interface between finance, digital technologies and entrepreneurship? Each month, in the The Faces of the FinTech Industry series, someone in the payment and banking industry answers the same ten questions.
During our everyday working life, we are attracted to exciting people who work in the same environment, who meet us only once or every now and again — or who have even become very close to us — each of them has their own story. We interviewed a few of these people from our FinTech environment to give them a face, to share why this industry is much more to them than just another way to pay their rent. This series introduces these people and their stories and this time, Markus Rupprecht from Traxpay AG answers our questions.
Who are you, what are you doing?
My name is Markus Rupprecht and I am the founder and CEO of Traxpay AG, an established startup based in Frankfurt am Main and Mountain View (USA). What else is there to say? I am a native of Munich, but I live in Cologne and enjoy working in Frankfurt …… so really cosmopolitan ;-).
What was your first involvement with the payment and banking industry?
I worked at Deutsche Bank for more than a decade and was named one of the company’s youngest Assistant Vice Presidents. Above all, I have a commitment to and passion for disruptive technologies. Even during my time at Deutsche Bank, I advised their clients on digitization issues in the field of B2B – then called the eBusiness Initiative. More recently I worked as a director at Hitachi Consulting Germany, as a Sales Director at Software AG and as a Business Development Director at GFT, responsible for the development of digital strategies.
When did you first hear the word FinTech?
When I founded Traxpay, that word did not exist. Fundraising was accordingly harder. To my knowledge, the word arrived as late as 2012; That’s the first time I heard it. I just thought: Finally, the investors have it on the plan!
How do you define FinTech?
For me, FinTech means digitizing financial services, creating and deploying new, advanced technologies that deliver significant value to customers and the financial community alike. Very often the customer perspective at Fintechs is first and foremost … the result is innovation.
Also, Fintechs are always startups … and these are defined by the spirit in the company. There are certain rules of the game in which large and small companies differ greatly.
What do you think make established companies better than FinTechs?
I think they are often more structured and aiming more for the 100 percent solution … But that is often a disadvantage in terms of the flexibility that one needs to adapt to customer needs. Of course, they also have much more power and means to enforce certain standards … all the more amazing how successful some Fintechs are …
What can you learn from FinTechs?
First and foremost, FinTechs have lean structures and short decision-making paths, which brings great benefits and, above all, rapid results.
You often work in small, manageable teams where practically everyone does everything. As a result, goals can often be achieved faster than is possible within a large corporation. Developments by FinTechs often take place at a rapid pace. In addition, they score with highly customer – and product — oriented thinking, as well as with lean and manageable cost structures. I want to say one more thing about FinTechs: the FinTech culture is a very special one. You can not describe it, you just have to experience it.
Why do established (big) companies really have such a hard time digitizing?
The long-established structures in large companies cause this. Employees of older generations prefer to stick to the status quo, which unfortunately can be outdated processes that have existed for decades. This makes digitization so difficult. But the speed of the digitization process certainly triggers fear, which slows progress. This fear has to be removed, because digitization is something really special. That should be recognized quickly. It is also true that thought processes were not always geared to the customers, but rather very much to regulation … that is about to change, but such processes persist … But here banks have improved greatly in the last four years since the advent of Fintechs!
What would you do for a living if you did not work in the payment and banking industry?
I would manage a nice big hotel. Nobody is more customer-oriented than the workers in that industry, and that fascinates me …. and you get to know different parts of the world well. That would excite me too.
Which company would you like to work with for a day?
Apple in the R & D department … I would like to know how Apple manages to create consumer demand … ..
Many do not even know what customers want today; Apple already knows what customers will want tomorrow … or makes them want it.
Who would you like to drink a beer with?
With Ben Horowitz; his book The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers touched me very much and is for me required reading for any founder. There are things in there that nobody else writes or talks about.