Michael Gastauer’s Blueprint for Building a Successful Fintech Brand

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With the successes of now-widely recognized names like Facebook and Spotify, many now aspire to create the next big innovation and establish a tech-based business that can be considered a household name.


However, doing so is easier said than done. Only half of start-ups or new companies make it past five years of operations. In the financial technology space, the odds are decidedly more challenging, with as many as 75% of new companies entering fintech ultimately failing.


It is for this reason that the success of the likes of the Black Banx Group is worth looking into. Established in 2014 by German billionaire Michael Gastauer and officially launched to the public a year later in 2015, the Toronto-based global digital bank has earned substantial success. In less than four years, it had ranked among the fastest growing companies, reaching a US$ 9.8 Billion valuation.


More recently, the group had earned a  profit before tax of US$ 158 million in the first nine months of this year. Despite absorbing non-operating costs of USD 14 million, the profit before tax for January to September of 2023 had been the highest amount it had earned in a nine-month span since 2015. Excluding these non-operating costs, profit before tax would have been US$ 172 million in the first three quarters of 2023, up from US$ 89 million in the prior year period.


So why the substantial earnings even at a time when other fintechs have suffered major falls in valuation or have outright collapsed? For Group CEO Michael Gastauer, it all comes down to keeping the customer as the centerpiece of the business.

Convenient Banking Access for the Benefit of the Customer

Having experienced for several years the flaws of cross border banking, account opening in foreign countries, and international wire transfers, Gastauer envisioned Black Banx serving a  borderless digital bank that would be inclusive, without the barriers of traditional banks. 


“We offer an easy sign-up process requiring just a photo ID, ensuring clients aren’t turned away based on paperwork, income, or location. We also don’t turn anyone away based on nationality, country of residence, religion, or amount of funds held or to be transferred. We don’t discriminate. For us, a happy customer makes for a happy business.”


This commitment to offering the utmost ease of access has proven effective, as Black Banx has substantially grown its customer base since earning as many as 200,000 new customers in 2015. By the first of nine months of this year, it had onboarded over 11 million new customers, which brought its total to 33 million clients and counting.

Promoting Financial Inclusion for Everyone

An interesting aspect of consumers of today is how many choose the brands they acquire products and services from based on how socially responsible those companies are. According to data from Sprout Social, 70% of consumers believe it’s important for brands to take a public stand on social and political issues, and 66% say it’s because they believe brands can create real change.


This aspect of the modern market has proven beneficial to building the reputation of Black Banx, since Gastauer has always maintained a commitment to financial inclusion. He continues to look to provide the unbanked with essential financial tools via fintech solutions, bridging the gap between them and traditional banking, leading to increased economic prospects, especially in areas with restricted banking access.


“Marketing opportunities notwithstanding, we’ve always felt a responsibility to make sure banking is beneficial to everyone and that those who have been failed by the traditional banking system have the same opportunities to manage their finances and grow their wealth like the rest of the world. This is a key reason why, even though it would be much easier for us to operate in established markets, we continue to also come into developing markets. According to the World Bank, there are presently over one-and-a-half billion people that are unbanked globally, many of which reside within developing economies.”

Constantly Getting to Know Markets

While Black Banx has a uniform goal of providing a global financial platform that allows for instant access to everyone and where their money can flow in real time, the group also recognizes that each market is different and customers have varying banking needs across each.

To best understand the customers’ pain points and preferences within each country, Black Banx has kept to being a “global” digital bank by having a diverse team of professionals located all over the world. While this 4000-strong (and counting) team are employed by Black Banx, they are also people requiring the best possible banking and provide extensive insight on the challenges to get what they want and need within their markets.


According to Gastauer, Black Banx being the global brand that it is now is thanks in large to being open to work with anyone from anywhere that shares the same commitment as the group.


“We believe that optimal digital banking services are best provided by teams who understand local market dynamics. This is why we continue to employ local teams in each of our operating markets to ensure that we are closely involved in all countries where we operate, and that the customers within each can count on getting the exact services and solutions that they need. Our current global workforce of more than 4,000 employees is a well diversified mix of different races and different genders working for us around the globe, helping us provide insight in their markets, and ultimately also being responsible that we are in touch with what customers expect of us.”


While easier said than done, centering every aspect of the business on customers has proven effective for Black Banx. While offering private accounts in 28 FIAT currencies and two crypto currencies over 180 countries continues to make it a no-brainer global digital bank to use, millions of customers continue to gravitate to the group because of how it makes sure that banking is accessible (and is beneficial) to anyone and everyone.