Interview with Stephan Simmang
We kick off with our interview schedule with CTO of Fintech Group Stephan Simmang
1. What is the Fintech Group and what value do you add to German and International Economy?
First of all, we are not a startup but one of the few well-established players in the financial technology sector. Many people don’t know, but we are operating from eight sites in Germany and Austria and have some 500 employees. We are building platforms for the financial industry and I love it.
You are probably wondering, why I am so excited about this. Well, we have witnessed impressive market disruptions by digital challengers in other sectors like retail (amazon) or travel (expedia). There, markets have been turned upside down in a matter of years. This is what is about to happen in the financial sector as well.
For now, traditional financial institutions have remained largely unscathed as they were protected by fierce government regulation, which is simply not present in other areas or industries to the same extent. But regulators are now opening up to innovative ideas. And many fintech companies have learnt to innovate and meet regulatory demands at the same time - including FinTech Group AG: we have a full-service banking license and are living up to the standards of the German financial authorities, which are among the toughest in all of Europe.
So when I say, we are building platforms for the financial industry, I really mean that we help changing this sector at an exciting point in time. We are enabling traditional banks and fintech startups to change the way we use money, pay for services and goods, invest and trade securities and much more.
The way I look at it is this: We industrialize banking by automating and standardizing processes that computers can execute for us: We have done that with payment processes and built a payment platform. We have done that for the German online broker flatex, which is a FinTech Group AG subsidiary, and built a transactions processing platform. And we also created one of the most modern core banking systems that is fit for the future.
2. Why is IT-Security particularly important to your business?
For one thing, it is a regulatory requirement. The rules are pretty tough. And that is how it should be as we are handling other people’s money after all. FinTech Group is also processing vital government-related services where IT-security is imperative. Unfortunately, I cannot be more specific.
However, these are two reasons why IT-security is particularly important to our business.
But let me give you another example that shows how performance stability is absolutely essential: At the end of June 2016, when the U.K. voted in favor of Brexit, the surprising decision led to sharp market fluctuations and record-high trading volumes. flatex executed about 80,000 trades in one day – more than in three average trading days combined – and the IT platform performed smoothly. It was the record in flatex´ ten year history.
Meanwhile, it became public that some of flatex competitors had some problems executing trades for their customers. Put yourself in the position of a trader on that day: Can you imagine that the market is going south fast, you are losing money by the minute, and there is nothing you can do because the system simply froze over?
So there you go: IT matters.
3. What is your wish for the upcoming months in terms of IT-security?
The same as it ever was: less spam on the internet! A large chunk of the internet traffic simply is spam. And if you think about the immense resources, server power, and man hours that are being wasted, it makes you wonder why. Spam causes real economic damage and I wish there would be less of it.
4. In your opinion – what is your main recommendation for companies and for users?
It is about time that financial institutions take the challenge of digitalization seriously. The financial crisis, and tightened regulatory demands as a result of the crisis, have eaten up resources and management attention for years. That is the fundamental reason why most financial institutions have not invested enough into digitalization. Some of the IT systems even, big names work with today, are simply outdated and should be replaced.
We at FinTech Group AG do not have such legacy issues and that proves to be a great advantage every day. As we are very active in the B2B business, we stand ready to help banks, startups, and other organization that need elegant processes for KYC, onboarding, transaction execution or e-signature.