Frank Kebsch has been CEO and Managing Director of finleap connect since January 2020, and leads the technology and open- banking company with over 160 employees in Berlin, Hamburg, Milan, Paris and Madrid.
Kebsch, who began his career in the traditional banking business at Westfalenbank AG and later spent nearly 20 years at the Bertelsmann subsidiary Arvato, is considered a pioneer in the FinTech and open banking sector.
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Finnovating (F): Could you summarize a brief review of your professional career as an introduction?
Frank Kebsch (FK): I began my career at the Westfalenbank AG in Germany, focusing on credit risk management for the bank’s corporate customers. At the turn of the millennium, I developed innovative concepts for the German media company Bertelsmann and restructured the factoring and credit business from the ground up. Over the course of my 19 years as CEO and Managing Director (first in Central Europe and then worldwide), I helped build up the then newly-founded subsidiary Arvato Financial Solutions into a global company with 7,500 employees, which focused on an extensive product portfolio from accounting solution to payment processing solutions, as well as the then brand-new concept of “Buy Now, Pay Later”. I joined finleap connect in January 2020 as the CEO and Managing Director to build up the company to become Europe’s leading independent Open Banking platform it is today.
(F): You are the current CEO of finleap connect. Could you explain the core business of finleap connect? What services does finleap connect offer?
(FK): finleap connect is the leading, independent Open Banking platform provider in Europe. We enable companies across a multitude of industries to provide the next generation of financial services by understanding how customers transact and interact.
With our “full-stack” platform of solutions, we make it possible for our clients to compliantly access the financial transactions data of customers, enrich said data with analytics tools, provide digital banking services and deliver high-quality, digital financial services products and solutions to customers. finleap connect offers, among other solutions, Account Information Service (AIS), Payment Initiation Service (PIS, Account Switch Kit services and the white-label Digital Bank solution.
finleap connect is a regulated payment institution under the Payment Services Supervision Act (Zahlungsdiensteaufsichtsgesetz – ZAG). We have over 160 employees from more than 35 countries across our offices in Berlin, Hamburg, Milan, Madrid and Paris.
(F): How did the idea come about?
(FK): finleap connect was founded in August 2019 as the merger of three FinTech companies within the finleap ecosystem. The company was founded with the vision to connect the fragmented financial services landscape with a full range of modular, end-to-end solutions for the banking, FinTech and insurance industries. As the company has grown, and as the financial services market landscape has changed, our focus has shifted to being the leading independent Open Banking platform in Europe.
(F): What is finleap connect’s value proposition?
(FK): At finleap connect, it’s really important to us to have a good and strong relationship with our clients. We believe this is also the foundation of a great and agile collaboration, as well as the development of excellent projects and products. In the end, it’s all about people and trust. What is also especially important in the financial services business is our relationship with our clients and also with our clients’ (end) customer(s).
(F): Who are finleap connect’s customers?
(FK): finleap connect is proud to be a strong partner behind over 360 brands across the European banking, FinTech, insurance and non-financial service industries.
(F): How do you think finleap connect contributes to promoting and transforming today’s financial sector?
(FK): Open Banking is by nature transformational. By opening the option of transferring banking data & payments into third parties in a regulated manner, we are creating a new open ecosystem from which a wide array of companies can benefit. We truly believe Open Banking is the starting point for a much greater Open Economy, and we are pioneers in leading this revolution.
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(F): How do you think the implementation of digital functionalities will impact the traditional business model?
(FK): It is clear by now, especially after the pandemic that most business models are shifting towards digital. In fact, for some, digital business models are their only way forward. At finleap connect, we believe that embracing a digital culture will benefit the companies as they can improve their clients’ onboarding, digitalise their processes (both internal and external) and offer a much more personalized experience with their customers.
(F): Is finleap connect interested in partnering with large companies in the sector?
(FK): Absolutely, we believe that collaboration between companies is key within the industry. It is important to stick to the core of your business and partner up with those that can offer technology improvements to your services/ solutions.
(F): How would you convince investors to trust the FinTech sector at such a sensitive time for the economy?
(FK): Finleap connect is very well positioned and the leading independent open banking platform in Europe. In our first-ever funding round in 2021, we secured a 22M€ Series A investment. In 2022, we expect to further develop our presence and products in the countries we already operate in, as well as continue to expand into new markets.
(F): How will finleap connect expand internationally?
(FK): finleap connect is the leading company for Open Banking services in Europe, and we have expanded organically to Eastern Europe with existing clients, to markets like Romania and Czechia.
A major milestone in our international expansion has been the acquisition of MyValue Solutions in the Iberian market, where we have been able to reach new clients but also acquire new technology to complement our services.
Last but not least, we have expanded into the Middle East region, where we are live with our first client in Bahrain. We are offering a fully end-to-end Open Banking platform to the leading telecommunications provider in this region, Batelco.
Going forward, internationalisation is one of our strategic priorities, and in 2022 we will continue to expand our business.
(F): What do you think can be the impact of digital platforms in the FinTech industry?
(FK): The FinTech industry has reached an amazing level of maturity, and hence, a platform becomes needed as the trusted partner to reach a global scale with solutions that suit all their needs. Digital platforms will foster the next growth phase where scalability will be key.
(F): What do you think are the secret ingredients of Finnovating that make it a unique platform?
(FK): The vast array of companies in some of the most competitive markets and it’s “easy to contact” system to reach out to those (companies – C levels) you might want to talk to.
(F): Why is finleap connect interested in being part of Finnovating? What are you looking for in the first global FinTech platform?
We look forward to being a trusted partner in Open Banking for the Finnovating community.
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CEO finleap Frank Kebsch