The faces of the industry: Pavlina Popova

May we introduce: Pavlina Popova from Cash payments/viacash

Working in the FinTech sector is like coming and going, requires a high degree of professionalism in a thoroughly relaxed working environment and is above all characterised by innovations as well as good, clever and future-oriented ideas, according to the widespread consensus. But who are actually the brains and doers behind these creative thought processes, at the interface between finance, digital technologies and entrepreneurship? In our Series The faces of the FinTech industry  we regularly ask a person from the payment and banking industry the same ten questions. This time Pavlina Popova answers our questions.

May we introduce…

During our everyday work we meet exciting people who work in the same environment, who we meet only once or from time to time or who we have already grown very fond of in our private lives – each of them has a story of their own. We have a few of these People from our nearest FinTech environment to give them a face. To share why this industry is much more to them than just another way to pay their rent. We would like to briefly portray and introduce these people and their vita in a very special category and have designed a questionnaire that is always the same. This time answered Pavlina Popova our questions. Pavlina is Director Banking at Fintech Cash payments/viacashthe largest bank-independent payment infrastructure in Europe.

Who are you, what do you do?

My name is Pavlina Popova, I’m Director Banking for Cash/viacash and thus responsible for business development, implementation support and account management with banks in Germany and Austria. Over the years I have noticed that I have a mixture of conservative values and globalized, modern values, both personally and professionally;

My perception is that there is still a huge gap between the two and that the demands for change are all too often that you make giant leaps. The lived reality, on the other hand, looks different and is often linear, and bridging solutions are needed. Cash/viacash is just such a solution, combining digital banking with cash solutions.

Faces Pavlina Popova

Because even if we will soon be able to pay with the chip implanted in our wrist, there are still people who prefer cash as a payment method and I myself have to realize time and again that I can’t do without it;

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

Spontaneously, I would say my Knax allowance account now. The first professional contacts, however, were with the Berliner Sparkasse during my master’s studies and after a short excursion into the energy sector I ended up back in the banks as a consultant. Contrary to my initial conception of industry, I have come to appreciate the collegial and professional environment, as well as the challenges facing the industry. Over time, it even became an occupational disease, as I too often catch myself looking at business, wondering which card terminal is being used or asking my friends where their bank account is.

When did you first notice the word FinTech?

I had already heard the word during my studies, but it was only during my work as a consultant at Simon-Kucher & Partners that I was able to consciously classify and delimit it. Together with a colleague, we looked at companies offering API and platform services in the context of the upcoming PSD2 implementation. Based on this, we did a larger analysis of the FinTech market in order to identify cooperation opportunities for banks and integrate them into our projects. For me, this was the time when “a whole new (banking) world” opened up for me. This was actually the time when I discovered the Payment&Banking page and started reading the newsletter.

How do you define FinTech?

All companies that offer financial services or a specialized part of the value chain of these services and do better than established companies;

What do you think established companies do better than FinTechs?

“To a certain extent, the companies established today were once also Fintechs, i.e. new and inexperienced companies that have only proved themselves and built up customer relationships over time”.

Of course, one must never forget that established companies were once founded and were “FinTechs” and have proven themselves over time, developed profitably and established many customer relationships. Due to their many years of experience and large customer base, they were able to gather a lot of knowledge (today this would be summarised under “Big Data”).  This knowledge can be used to develop products and services tailored to the needs of existing customers and thus to retain their loyalty. 

What can you learn from FinTechs?

The tireless perseverance and motivation for positive change, the agile and pragmatic adaptation of business processes and the continuing customer focus;

Why do established (large) companies find it so difficult to go digital?

On the one hand, it is due to the mass of established processes and systems that have grown over time and which must all be broken up, repositioned and migrated one after the other in the course of digitisation. This takes time. The core banking system of a 150-year-old Deutsche Bank, for example, cannot be compared with that of a 5-year-old Challenger Bank. After all, you can’t turn a tanker around as quickly as a sailboat.

The digitisation of large companies, while at the same time complying with current regulatory requirements and taking along and training employees, some of whom must first be introduced to digitisation, requires large capacities;
Which brings me to reason two. In my opinion, it is precisely these capacities that are lacking in large companies. The technological departments are still relatively small and the manpower needed to drive digitization forward quickly is lacking. In addition, it requires more technology-affine managers who make decisions not only on the basis of the immediate business case but also based on needs-based and future-oriented developments;

What would you do professionally if you were not working in the payment and banking industry?

Faces Pavlina Popova

Probably working in the energy industry, where I also did an internship. After all, the digitalization of energy processes and the demand-oriented distribution of renewable energies are also topics that I find exciting. If I had to go one step further, I would have liked to end up in space research, but I gave up that idea after graduating from high school 

Which company would you like to work for one day?

A day at NASA or SpaceX. If I could also choose the day, it would certainly be that of a rocket launch;

Who would you like to have a beer with?

With Elon Musk- between genius and madness, Paypal, Tesla, SpaceX and Hyperloop there would be enough interesting topics. Hope he likes beer.

Nicole Nitsche
Nicole Nitsche ist studierte Theaterwissenschaftlerin und hat mehrere Jahre als Regieassistentin beim Thalia Theater Hamburg gearbeitet. Danach war Nicole Leiterin der Presse-und Marketingabteilung eines Hamburger Musiklabels. Zu ihren täglichen Aufgaben zählten dort, neben dem Verfassen von Pressetexten, die Umsetzung und... mehr