First of all, how are you and your family in this phase of the COVID-19 emergency?
Valentino Bravi : We are fine, thanks. We have always continued to work despite the situation we are experiencing.
Can you tell us about yourself, your career and how TAS Group was born?
Valentino Bravi : I now have 30 years of experience in the IT market, in which I’ve held various managerial roles. While I was continuing my university studies in Applied Mathematics, I began my career in 1977 in the Olivetti Group (Syntax Spa) and then joined Pirelli in 1981, dedicating myself to the development of innovative Data Communication solutions and collaborating in the organization of the nascent Pirelli Informatica. In 1988 I joined Computer Associates, which I left in 2000 after being CEO of Italy, General Manager of South Europe and Senior Vice President globally. I then moved to Siemens Business Services as Chief Executive Officer and General Manager, roles that I then also held in Etnoteam starting in 2003. In 2007 I became Chief Executive Officer of T-Systems Italia. Since April 2009 I have been the CEO of TAS S.p.A., where I put my skills in managing change and business development at the service of the company. In 2016 I conducted a management buyout operation together with my friend, the current Chairman of the Board of Directors of TAS, Dario Pardi. Together we now have indirect control of the company, together with other smaller private investors.
TAS SpA today controls a group of companies, the result of various acquisitions and strategic operations that took place over the years, which operates both nationally and internationally.
As far as business ideas are concerned, in a market like payments you need to have a lot of them because it is a sector in continuous and very rapid evolution. But this challenge pleases both me and the management of the Company. Our goal is to create value not only for customers but also for the entire country, as well as exporting our Made in Italy software abroad where we already have ample confirmation of the fact that our expertise and technology allow us to be competitive, also at a global level.
How does TAS Group innovate?
Valentino Bravi : The core business of TAS Group is to provide mission-critical software platforms, capable of enabling the future of digital payments with maximum security and agility. We have often defined ourselves as “a fintech start up with 35 years of history”, because our Group has always been characterized by the continuous ability to renew itself to keep up with a sector in which evolution is very rapid, both from a technological point of view and market dynamics. For decades, we have been a reference partner of the most important Italian and international banking institutions for everything related to the digitization of payments. To support the new players and roles introduced by PSD2 we are now finalizing a platform – the Global Payments Platform – unique in the sector, which offers an integrated and modular end-to-end solution for the entire world of interbank, digital and open banking payments.
How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected TAS Group and how are you coping with this crisis?
Valentino Bravi : The health emergency, as we all know, is having serious impacts on the productivity of businesses and the performance of commercial activities. Moving payment transactions online, which reduce the risks associated with physical contact, can significantly contribute to preserving an industry that is suffering. The development of innovative and easy to implement solutions for cashless payments is part of our core business. In this emergency situation, our mission therefore also assumes a connotation of social responsibility because it is aimed at concretely supporting the economic dynamics of the country in a time of difficulty.
From the point of view of work organization, we immediately adopted smart working for all our workers, allowing them to carry out their activities from home, remotely connecting to company infrastructures in complete safety. This is a way of working that before Covid was still not very widespread in Italy, but which TAS had already started using in 2011 and which we have progressively extended to all our offices in Italy (eight in six regions) and in Europe (Serbia, Switzerland, France, Germany, Spain and the United Kingdom).
After a short adaptation phase we found that there are no significant reductions in productivity, nor significant impacts on management and workloads.
On the other hand, there are several benefits that affect not only the worker and the company, but also the environment. A better work-life balance, in fact, positively impacts employees and collaborators, increasing their well-being and productivity, while the reduced travelling helps to limit air pollution, giving an important help to environmental sustainability.
Have you had to make difficult decisions? And what are the lessons learned?
Valentino Bravi : In recent years we have had the opportunity to test and verify the validity of remote working, so the government indications have not caught us unprepared. In fact, for some time we have had organizational tools and procedures to allow employees to work easily from home without compromising productivity, teamwork and the quality of project delivery. This emergency was a confirmation of the advantages that the adoption of a pioneering mentality can bring, the importance of always having an eye to the future.
How do you manage stress and anxiety in this time of health emergency and how do you project yourself and TAS Group into the future?
Valentino Bravi : We are experiencing the current emergency as a challenge that our customers must and can face, leveraging the technologies that enable digitization. In times of crisis, the strength of strong and loyal partnerships is tested, and TAS has all the requisites and characteristics to continue to enable this technological change, constantly improving the performance of its solutions, up to the expectations of our customers.
How do you plan to outdo the competition?
Valentino Bravi : We rely on our strong expertise and on our technological offering focused on the digitization of payments. In recent months, many banking institutions have seen an increase in the downloads of their payment apps, the use of cards and customer interaction with ATM, Internet and Mobile Banking channels. This growth is made possible by highly resilient and scalable technological infrastructures, the ones that we have always provided to our customers.
Your website ?
Valentino Bravi : www.tasgroup.eu
Your final thoughts on this emergency?
Valentino Bravi : This emergency is putting the country to the test. We are convinced that everyone is required to make their own contribution with what they do to bring the balance back to a condition of greater well-being. We provide what we do best: digital payments. We also believe that, once the emergency is over, in the financial statements we will also see the benefits derived from what we are experiencing, such as the adoption of smart working, in which Italy is catching up with other European countries. I close by taking about a campaign that I have been promoting for years “Made in Italy – Not just fashion”. Trusting local producers of technological and application solutions – as happens in many countries – would undoubtedly help Italy to face and overcome one of the most critical financial crises of all time.