May we introduce Holger Teske from Gini
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 series: The Faces of FinTech, we regularly ask one person from the payments and banking industry the same ten questions. This time Holger Teske answers our questions.
May we present…
In the course of our day-to-day work, we frequently encounter exciting people who work in the same field, 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.
Who are you, what do you do?
I am Holger Teske, the founder & CEO of Gini. I co-founded the Gini company ten years ago to free humanity from tedious paperwork. Since 2013, we have been successfully working with banks and helping them to offer their customers features that make everyday bureaucratic life easier, e.g. with our Gini Pay photo transfer solution.
It has become a must-have feature in banking apps, growing at about 150 percent annually. The customers love it: In the
Appstore, it regularly scores very good reviews within the banking apps.
Its great advantage is that it saves users from having to laboriously type in payment information themselves, such as the long IBAN. But other industries such as insurance and accounting also benefit from our AI-driven document analysis: clerks save a lot of valuable work time by automatically extracting data from documents and thus have no typing work.
What does a classic day in your life look like?
Fortunately, I don’t have a classic working day, because there are always different topics on the agenda. I like that variety. Due to our self-organization, the teams at Gini work very independently and autonomously, so my work as CEO is very different from classic companies. My main tasks are the strategic direction of Gini and the further development of the company culture and organization. My credo is to identify where things are not running smoothly and to solve these issues together with the team in a sustainable way, without them needing me.
What were your first encounters with the payment and banking industry?
That was 2013. We had launched an app just in time for the start of the IBAN in Germany, which was supposed to simplify the payment of bills using the photo function. At that time, this was still a standalone solution with its own payment connection to banks. At the end of the year, ING asked us if they could integrate the functionality into their banking app as well. Since then, we are set in almost all German banking apps and save users an enormous amount of time and nerves when paying bills.
When did you first notice the word FinTech?
That was also around 2013. For me, fintechs were perceived as competition for banks at the time, they were attacking the banks’ business models piece by piece. With Gini we went a different way from the beginning. We sought exchange with the banks and positioned ourselves as a partner. Our products should bring added value for banks and their customers; and thus also generate a positive, innovative image for banks.
How do you define FinTech?
FinTech, in my definition, is technology around the financial world that has a particular focus on the end-user, bringing them innovation and better usability, i.e. simpler processes.
What do you think established companies do better than FinTechs?
The big advantage of established companies is that they already have millions of end customers. Their brands are well known and the majority of Germans trust these brands. FinTechs, on the other hand, first have to start from scratch, develop a user base and gain the trust of end customers in the process. Especially in Germany, it is not always easy to get a relevant mass for one’s products with the very sensitive topic of finances.
What can you learn from FinTechs?
That’s a lot. FinTechs are fast and agile, they react to the market accordingly. They go new ways and try out new things. They are brave in doing so. They show passion and enthusiasm for the cause. They put the user with his needs and the usability in the foreground. FinTechs make something seemingly impossible possible. They think in terms of opportunities rather than risk avoidance.
Why do established (large) companies have such a hard time with digitalization?
In my opinion, this is very much rooted in the company culture that has been built up over decades. Large companies would need a radical change, which would probably knock many employees on the head and overwhelm them, as they have lived very differently for many years. It also takes a lot of courage and budget to leave the old behind and start greenfield projects, so to speak. All of this also requires a good error culture, because digitization also means trying out a lot and learning from mistakes. However, if making mistakes jeopardizes your career, there is no incentive to try new things.
What makes your job interesting on a daily basis?
I believe very strongly in our mission to get rid of the burdensome red tape. Making this possible for myself and others gives me new energy and ideas for new products every day. In addition, my work is very varied and always presents me with new challenges, which I continue to grow with. At Gini, we work in a completely self-organized way, without classic hierarchies and job titles, and each employee enjoys an extremely high degree of autonomy and trust. Seeing how the Ginis handle this, grow from it, and how it moves each Gini forward inspires me every day.
What would you do for a living if you weren’t working in the payments and banking industry?
I would probably set up a carpentry shop, because wood is my second great passion. I love to work with this natural raw material and to hold something tangible in my hands at the end.
What are you proud of?
Ten years of Gini – I’m incredibly proud of that. To have developed a product that is used by almost six million users and has become its own category in the test of banking apps – that is great. Most importantly, it has brought us closer to our goal of ridding humanity of paperwork.
“We are closer to our goal of ridding humanity of paperwork.”
I am also proud to be a leader in the “New Work” field with our concept of self-organization. We have been successful and extremely attractive as an employer for over four years. It is wonderful to see how much the Ginis develop and grow professionally and especially personally with us.
Why aren’t there more women in tech?
This is a big topic with multi-layered opinions and views. With Gini, it comes down solely to qualifications and interpersonal skills. We have also consistently geared our recruiting process towards this. So it really just happened that we have about 50% women working across all disciplines, and the team is very international with employees from five continents. Personally, I appreciate this diversity very much, because the many different perspectives on a topic always lead to a better result in terms of content.
Which company would you like to work for one day?
At Tesla or Space-X. I find it fascinating how Elon Musk manages to build big visions and approach them at such a rapid pace.
Who would you like to have a beer with?
Jony Ive. I love his work and his uncompromising focus on the user. For me, this is a very big drive at Gini. Sharing with him about this and being inspired by him would make me extremely happy.