7 Questions

5 Questions with Christian Berger, Managing Director at BeeOne

1. Tell us about yourself and about BeeOne.

BeeOne is digital innovation enterprise of Erste Group Bank. We are part of the current revolution on the financial services area and we create the change from the inside of a big regional player in Central and Eastern Europe. Our aim is to bring Erste Group to the edge of the innovation scene – to do so we have adopted a very ambitious agenda encompassing the entire organization.

We have in place great mix of motivated offbeats eager to make something meaningful different. Our team has a great balance of diverse skills and backgrounds, with a wide geographical origin coming from different industries and with valuable experience in a relevant variety of other industries. This set-up together with a flexible and open-minded start-up culture makes the perfect hotbed to make such a mandate real.

Back to our start in August 2012, we focused our agenda on developing a top-level mobile servicing for our customer base. By developing applications and products solving real issues of real customers we managed to change the perception of our client base and attracted new ones.

Our roadmap does not end here. We have identified several streams to work-on to be able to transform the organization into a fully innovative corporation. We have lot ahead of us, so keep an eye on us and we will surprise you.

 

2. Which stage of startups, and/or which areas (within FinTech) are of particular interest to you?

We are constantly in touch with start-ups searching for things we can adopt in our servicing portfolio. This includes any fintech related start-up, but not only. We also have a close look to start-ups coming from outside the financial world. When we have a relevant concept from a start-up we try to integrate the products and services from them into ours. This means we work very close with the start-up and our local banks to identify how this can work. On this process we are not only a bridge, we become co-creators of the final outcome. A typical example of such a start-up is the Croatian company “Photopay” which has recently also opened an office in London to service UK-based banks.

 

3. What are your key learnings and experiences working with FinTech startups?

We have learned that often start-ups work in a very simplified model about the reality that works for them, but not for the high complex ecosystem of a financial institution.  This makes that any cooperation is a difficult business where integration efforts and timings are frequently underestimated creating high frustration in both sides. Once entering such cooperation it is very important to start very small and very concrete to go live soon, and after that, decide how to grow the solution.

 

4. What do you see as the biggest challenges for FinTech Startups / SMEs, and what is your advice to them?

There is lots of FinTech Startup on the scene. We do not like to use the expression bubble, but certainly is a very hot momentum for the industry. This has good and bad implications. To have a good differentiation and create a good impact on the target audience is fundamental clear purpose and message. Make things very simple and do not try to reach too much. Small companies with a too big solution portfolio are simple not credible, and credibility is your main asset.

The good part of the current situation is that other companies are highly opened to listen to you and this is a complete shift of the industry from the previous years. That opens much opportunities and creates informal networks making much easier the full process form incubation to launch.

 

5. What is your view on the FinTech scene in D-A-CH, and what could we do to accelerate it?

The D-A-CH region is generating and attracting a good bunch of Fintech start-ups. In order to leverage all this potential the ecosystem needs a clear regulatory shift to openness and flexibility. Too often any money and financial related newcomers have to overcome a painful regulatory and legal process that substantially cuts or even kills the momentum power of that idea. Regulators shall understand this and make something to empower the scene, if not, they will find other places where better develop their activities.