Q&A- Startups

7 Questions with Lucie Haß, Helaba Digital

1. Please tell us a bit about yourself, both at work and leisure.

My name is Lucie Haß and I am the Managing Director of Helaba Digital. We founded Helaba Digital in 2018 as corporate venture capital vehicle for Helaba. Before I was working as Senior Project Manager at Commerzbank and was responsible for various projects focusing on innovation and digitization.


2. What are your professional focus areas, overall and within FinTech?

Helaba Digital is seeking for start-ups with solutions related close to the business model is close to the one of Helaba Group. This includes corporate finance for large corporates, cash management and real estate finance. If we find an interesting idea we introduce the idea to the respective business area. After that we decide whether we want to cooperate or if on top an investment would be of interest. Our goal is to innovate Helaba by bringing together the “old” and “new” world of finance.


3. What opportunities or challenges are FinTechs creating for European Financial Institutions?

In my opinion the so called disruption of the banks didn’t take place like it is foreseen in the last years. In the payments B2C sector, of course, new challenger banks came up and are impressively successful with their business model. Banks, such as comdirect and DKB, profit from this competition in the way that they were forced to drive innovation even faster. I am curios where this will lead us. In the B2B sector, where we are mainly focusing on, we see less disruption until now. This might be, because B2B FinTech business is more complex, takes more time to build up and is less viral. Founders often have banking or finance background. I think here we will see more start-ups coming up in the next few years.


4. What do you think about the incumbents’ response so far?

Only a few incumbents did realise so far how much potential there is, if working together with start-ups. In my opinion the reason is that the solution a start-up provides is always under development. For the incumbent this seems incomplete and immature or something does not fit with the regulatory environment of the incumbent. Instead of accepting this as an opportunity to grow and develop the solution together the incumbent denies cooperation and tries to build it on his own and make it as perfect as possible. But this takes too much time, resources and flexibility. What we need is the understanding of the opportunities coming through cooperation with the new financial solutions.


5. Which way do you see the sector going and who would be the likely winners?

I believe that we will see a higher collaboration and integration of systems between banks and corporates as well as usage of smart technology, like AI to streamline the internal processes of each company. Ideas of start-ups can be well used to drive that change. But also the mind change within the organisations is necessary to be successful in this transformation.


6. What tip would you like to give FinTech entrepreneurs?

If you like to cooperate with a bank or a large corporate plan enough time for the sales cycle and don’t give up.


7. What’s on your bookshelf/holiday reading list?

Measuring the World (Daniel Kehlmann)