May we introduce: René Pongratz of adorsys

Working in the FinTech industry is like coming and going, requires a high degree of professionalism in a thoroughly relaxed working environment and is above all characterised by innovation as well as good, clever and future-oriented ideas, according to the widespread consensus. But who are actually the brains and movers behind these creative thought processes, at the intersection of finance, digital technologies and entrepreneurship? In our Faces of FinTech series, we regularly ask one person from the payments and banking industry the same ten questions. This time René Pongratz answers our questions.

May we present…

In the course of our daily work, we frequently encounter exciting people and faces who work in the same environment, who we meet only once or every now and then, or who have even grown very fond of us privately – each of them has a story of their own. We interviewed a few of thesepeople from our closest FinTech environment to put a face to them. To share why this industry is much more to them than just another way to pay his rent. We would like to briefly portray and introduce these people and their vita in a category of their own and have designed a questionnaire that is always the same. This time René Pongratz answers our questions in our series “Faces of the Industry”. René is VP Commercial Operations at adorsys, a Nuremberg-based software service provider for banks and savings banks.

Who are you, what do you do?

Rene Pongratz

Vice President Commercial Operations at adorsys. I am responsible for the activities in the area of new customer acquisition, the maintenance of existing business, as well as topics concerning brand & communication and our partners.

What does a classic day in your life look like?

There is no such thing as a classic day, as the tasks are too varied and usually come in a recurring but unpredictable order. One moment I am generating the best possible solution to a customer problem / inquiry with my team, the next moment we are supporting our Solutions Division with new insights from the market for our products.

Faces René Pongartz

Then again, I find myself in internal operational tasks, such as reports, forecasts, organisational matters, whereby the next day may require preparation for an upcoming event or a guest appearance on various committees. It is a large keyboard with many interesting tasks of varying complexity.

What were your first encounters with the payment and banking industry?

After graduating as a computer scientist from the Friedrich-Alexander-University in Erlangen shortly after the “turn of the millennium”, I first spent my life in different areas of industry. There was everything from mass data processing to a control station in healthcare. My first contact with the payment and banking industry was about 8 years ago, when my curiosity in the role of an IT architect drove me to join a well-known online bank in Nuremberg. One of the goals was to prepare the bank for Open APIs with the help of API Management. This was more or less the starting point for the new chapter “Payment and Banking”.

When did you first notice the word FinTech?

The term “FinTech” really came to the fore a little over 3 years ago when the need for PSD2 arose in Europe. While I had built up extensive expertise in the area of bank APIs at this point, at their core these were mostly designed as dedicated partner interfaces. Universal interfaces in finance that are open to all consumers were only really fired up with the PSD2 regulations of 2019. Since then, I have also always been concerned with how to get banks “compliant to the law” and ideally in a way that creates maximum value for consumers, i.e. fintechs.

How do you define FinTech?

I define FinTech as a third party provider in the finance industry. So a sub-set among the TPPs. As a rule, relatively young companies with a high level of innovation. Very often venture supported with sporting ambitions.

What do you think established companies do better than FinTechs?

From what I’ve experienced so far, established companies are a bit more “down to earth” with general ventures. I.e. while I often still find a lot of “dreaming” at FinTechs, established companies are mostly down to earth. It is mainly the experience, a secure financial basis and an already existing network that make these companies appear more solid.

What can you learn from FinTechs?

Have courage! Courage to try something new. While innovation at established companies is usually stifled by risk, inertia or a lack of IT underpinnings and thus high “renovation costs”, FinTechs are much more nimble and disruptive. I think the “just go for it” attitude is what we’ve been missing in the financial market for a long time.

“The ‘just do it’ attitude is what we’ve been missing in the financial market for a long time.”

Why do established (large) companies have such a hard time with digitalization?

Here I like to bring the comparison “try to force a tanker on the high seas into a curve with a tight radius”. If the cutter has a straight course, it usually only continues in one direction. Getting away from the metaphor would be breaking down or changing existing processes, adopting a new mindset, not to mention high IT costs to modernize legacy systems, some of which are a bit dusty. IT transformations are extremely costly and carry high risks. One quickly realizes that an “AFTER the transformation” immediately leads back to a “BEFORE the transformation”. Projects of this type consume a lot of time and may still not make it to the finish line.

What makes your job interesting on a daily basis?

I think we are currently in a revolutionary phase of the industries. Inspiring and convincing companies and decision-makers to embark on a transformative journey, as well as responding to ever-changing demands from the market, makes “daily business” a very exciting job. If you also set yourself the goal of competing with the big techs from the USA or the big players in the Asian market, a lot of creativity is required.

What would you do for a living if you weren’t working in the payments and banking industry?

There are so many exciting fields to be realized in that one lifetime is not enough for that. As long as it is something that provides some value to the person, some things are allowed here. Health industry, culinary, music, …

What are you proud of?

I am very proud to have found a company with adorsys that allows an incredible amount of freedom in personal realization. For example, we have managed to establish a ModelBank for Open Banking on the Swiss market and, in the context of “Open Banking / PSD2”, we have helped more than 70 banks in Germany and Austria to achieve the required compliance. In retrospect, such achievements do cause a certain smile on the face.

Why aren’t there more women in tech?

Faces René Pongartz

We are noticing a significant increase in the number of women at adorsys – and that is a good thing! Just looking at the “tech”, the difference may still be due to the popularity of the topic itself. If we go from “tech know how” to “technical know how” we see that many more female colleagues are already involved in different roles. And in those roles, they do quite an excellent job as well. We primarily value passion and expertise when hiring!

Which company would you like to work for one day?

I would love to spend a day at Apple’s HQ. Why? I am interested in how much of the colorful world that is suggested via the media is really true. The “we” feeling behind the brand of being and doing something special is an incredible driver. I’d love to steal an idea or two on that one.

Who would you like to have a beer with?

With Angela Merkel and her future successor(s). I would like to know from Angela where you can buy this Teflon coat that could withstand even the biggest impacts in the turbulent last years. A “boxing match over 16 rounds” and then still standing in the ring, absolutely remarkable for me. I would like to discuss the status quo of digitization in Germany with my future successor. I think Corona has brought a lot of facts to light here that show great potential for optimization.

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