The start-up space is a contentious one. According to Investopedia, as of 2021, 20% of new businesses fail in the first year, while 50% do so within five years, and as much as 65% fail within 10 years.
Fintech, an industry with start-ups, is just as volatile. According to a report published by Linkedin, despite having investor backing, 75% of Fintech startups globally fail.
Taking these numbers into account, it is absolutely remarkable when new companies not only strive but also thrive in fintech.
It is for this reason that the story of Michael Gastauer is worth taking note of. The German billionaire has not only survived in the fintech arena, but has emerged at the forefront of it thanks to the different businesses he had pioneered. These include Europe’s third-largest (so far) digital banking company, Black Banx.
The Early Years in Finance and Entrepreneurship
Michael Gastauer, a visionary entrepreneur and billionaire, made his mark in the finance industry as a young and ambitious professional when he joined a Munich-based venture capital fund. However, his true journey into the world of entrepreneurship began at the age of 24, when he founded his first company—a Swiss asset management firm. In an astonishing feat, the company’s assets under management (AUM) surpassed CHF 1 billion in less than three years. Subsequently, Gastauer sold the firm to a Swiss investment company for an impressive CHF 16 million.
Gastauer’s passion for innovation and his acute understanding of the finance industry led him to venture into uncharted territory. He became one of the first entrepreneurs in Europe to develop an online payment system that provided global card acceptance and payment processing solutions for eCommerce businesses. Under his expert guidance, the company reached remarkable heights, boasting a valuation of €480 million until its sale in 2008.
The Rise of Gastauer Family Office (GFO)
After the successful sale of his second business, Gastauer established the Gastauer Family Office (GFO), a single-family office that manages an astounding €10 billion in assets. The GFO also houses a venture capital arm that focuses on investing in financial technology firms, fostering innovation within the industry.
Michael Gastauer’s commitment to making a positive impact on the world extends beyond business ventures. He founded the Gastauer Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting financial inclusion and addressing the significant issue of 2.2 billion people lacking access to financial services.
Birthing a game changer
With a profound understanding of customers’ global banking challenges, Gastauer saw an opportunity to create a financial solution that transcended borders. In 2014, he established Black Banx, a groundbreaking platform aimed at unlocking a borderless financial system for everyone, enabling money to flow freely.
Black Banx experienced astounding success from the outset, attracting over 200,000 customers in its very first year of operation. Operating in more than 180 countries, the platform offers both private and business accounts in 28 FIAT currencies and 2 cryptocurrencies, ensuring seamless cross-border transactions for its customers.
Always on the cutting edge
In 2016, Black Banx expanded its physical presence with offices in the USA, UK, and Hong Kong. Simultaneously, the platform started accepting cryptocurrency as a deposit method, leading to a remarkable growth in its customer base, reaching an impressive 1 million customers.
As demand for cryptocurrency soared, Black Banx took the next leap in 2018, launching a fully-fledged cryptocurrency trading platform with Bitcoin (BTC) and Ethereum (ETH) as the initial offerings. Expanding its reach further, the company established offices in Canada.
Always thriving, be it during up trends or downturns
In 2019, Black Banx’s growth showed no signs of slowing down. The company expanded its physical presence with offices in the UAE and South Africa, further solidifying its global footprint. Astonishingly, its customer base grew to a staggering 8 million users, and it ranked among the fastest-growing companies, achieving a remarkable valuation of US$9.8 billion in less than four years.
The global economic downturn resulting from the pandemic posed challenges for many businesses. Nevertheless, Black Banx demonstrated exceptional resilience. The company officially launched in China and continued its rapid expansion, accumulating over 10.5 million customers.
The future is now
By the mid-point of 2023, Black Banx’s success only intensified, with the platform serving an astonishing 28 million customers worldwide. The company’s revenue soared to an impressive $1.1 billion, showcasing its unwavering commitment to providing innovative financial solutions.
With an incredible onboarding rate of more than 1.3 million new users per month, Black Banx remains firmly focused on expansion into new territories. The company’s 33% increase in onboarding rate compared to 2022 illustrates its continued ability to evolve and meet the demands of a rapidly changing financial landscape.
Surely, Michael Gastauer’s journey from a young finance professional to a visionary entrepreneur and billionaire is a testament to his exceptional vision, dedication, and acumen. Through his ventures, such as Black Banx, he has transformed the finance industry, providing innovative and accessible solutions to millions of people worldwide.
As the company continues to push boundaries and redefine the financial landscape, Michael Gastauer’s impact on the industry and his commitment to financial inclusion remain an inspiring tale of success and philanthropy.