Rafael Stark, Stark Bank CEO & Founder tells us how technology is transforming the banking industry.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Rafael Stark: Thank you for the kind question. My family and I are doing well. Since the team at Stark Bank is also my family now, everyone is working remotely to keep them and their families safe.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Stark Bank.
Rafael Stark: I’m an engineer who graduated from Brazil’s Aeronautics Institute of Technology (ITA), studied Technology Entrepreneurship at Stanford, and one of the Y Combinator W20 selected founders.
I started my journey as a developer in 2013 when I created my first app for university students, Squiak. Later, in 2014, I opened a software house to serve companies. We closed deals from startups, such as QueroEducation, Concil, and Moneto, to corporate clients such as Nextel and Banco Paulista.
One day, a prospect asked us to automate their refund process. We assumed this task would be to connect their system to their bank until we realized no bank in Brazil offered an API. All companies in Brazil have been manually uploading txt files daily into their internet banking since the ’90s. We also realized that without a banking API, the Cash Management for medium to large companies was extremely complex and cumbersome. So I decided in 2018 to create Stark Bank to solve this issue.
How does Stark Bank innovate?
Rafael Stark: Using technology to create simple and scalable banking products and services that are easy to use and reconcile. For example, our cash management product is fully controlled by API. This allows high-growth startups and enterprises to connect their system to ours and processes all their accounts payables and accounts receivables in seconds, whether they have one or one million daily transactions.
Our product is also hyper-flexible. Integrations enable financial teams to control their bank account from their ERPs. For small teams, we created Internet Banking inside the Excel/Google Sheets product, allowing them to do all their banking operations through spreadsheets. Can you imagine paying your entire payroll by filling lines into Excel and just pressing a single button?
Underneath all of that is an entire banking infrastructure built from scratch using Cloud technology. Through microservices, we build modules that not only have high availability but are easy to build upon. We use ECDSA, the same algorithm used by Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies to validate transactions.
How does the coronavirus pandemic affect your business finances?
Rafael Stark: COVID-19 accelerated the digitization process for companies. Many of them understood that to continue selling, it’s necessary to have an online presence. We have observed the evolution of the volume of our customers during this pandemic and we have noticed that credit, delivery/food, and e-commerce companies are growing well. Even churches have recently asked to open accounts with us to receive the tithe, which was only done in person before.
Did you have to make difficult choices regarding human resources and what are the lessons learned?
Rafael Stark: As our business grew even faster during this pandemic, we have only strengthened our team and currently have open work opportunities. Keeping culture in a remote environment is super challenging and it’s a work in progress.
How did your customer relationship management evolve? Do you use any specific tools to be efficient?
Rafael Stark: We talk to them often. As financial markets are dominated by incumbent banks, we can’t afford to offer something just a little bit better. It has to be much better, otherwise, consumers will prefer an established brand. So, we always seek feedback and criticism to improve our product and deliver a big difference to our customers’ operations.
Did you benefit from any government grants, and did that help keep your business afloat?
Rafael Stark: None.
Your final thoughts?
Rafael Stark: We believe the future is tech and the world will belong to tech companies and traditional companies which, through technology, adapt to the market’s requirements, delighting increasingly demanding customers. We empower these companies and entrepreneurs to challenge the status quo, because we believe that teams with purpose can create miracles, win against any Goliath and change Brazil for the better.
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