Bankathon 2016: Interview with Matthias Lange of FinLeap

In the last weeks, we introduced our sponsors for this year’s Bankathon, which takes place from 9th to 11th October in Hamburg. Some weeks ago we started with FinLeap, one of our Gold Sponsors. Our questions were answered by Matthias Lange, Managing Director of the Berlin company. Here is the English version for the non-German readers.


Matthias Lange, Managing Director at FinLeap

As Managing Director at FinLeap I’m responsible for the development of new business models for our portfolio. This includes the identification and strategic selection of new, innovative business ideas, prototyping and testing, development and market entry – i.e. all the essential steps that are needed to bring a venture to life. Before FinLeap I worked eight years for McKinsey & Company and there I advised the financial sector on new digital business models as well as major IT transformations. I studied business informatics in Münster and also have a doctorate from the Humboldt University in Berlin.

#FinTech inspires because …

At FinLeap, FinTech means technology-based innovation in the financial sector. I find it to be extremely exciting to work with FinLeap in driving the associated change of the sector in Europe and developing new ideas. For me, the best moments are when we discuss and implement new ideas together with a wide variety of parties: with traditional banks, innovative thinkers, digital entrepreneurs and techies with the understanding of the very latest technology.

What for you personally is so special about the Bankathon?

For me personally the Bankathon is special because it brings together so many like-minded people who want to develop–in a short time–products that will further the banking industry. And in this way regulation, or specifically PSD2 this year, can be seen not as a barrier but as an enabler for innovation. I’m looking forward to coming away with a lot of inspiration that will hopefully lead to many more FinTech ideas.

What do you think of Hamburg as a FinTech location? Will Hamburg’s FinTech Week be a prelude for further events of this scale?

In comparison to Frankfurt or London, Hamburg doesn’t come immediately to mind as a financial center, but a lot has changed in recent years. I think this is also indicated by the steady development of the FinTech scene here. Among other names like Kreditech and figo, a growing ecosystem has developed here that is certainly not as large as in Berlin, but is very connected, especially in terms of proximity to one another.

What is your hope for this Bankathon? A clever idea? A special project? An exceptional team? The exchange of ideas? Something concrete for everyday banking?

I look forward to the many innovative ideas that the teams will develop in their 30 hours. It’s certainly a very short time, but for me that’s the strength of the Hackathon: that in this very short time you can bring ideas far enough that customers can provide feedback on whether it works and whether their needs are being addressed. The jury here is certainly a good proxy for potential customers. I’m particularly looking forward to meeting lots of new people at the Bankathon who have the drive to implement their idea afterward and maybe even the odd discussion that develops far enough along that you can continue working together on the idea.

What advice would you give the participating teams?

Not only in the Bankathon, in which the time is always too short, but also more generally in FinTech business ideas in the consumer area, I see it as particularly important to focus new business ideas on simple concepts that consumers can understand. The tech may be highly complex, but for the customer it must look super simple. There can be a great danger when using new technologies in that you can lose yourself in all the possibilities offered by the tech and then also lose the customer. That’s why I consider it especially important to develop not only technical ideas, but also to more precisely shape the go-to-market strategy and business model behind them – particularly from a customer perspective.

This time the topic of PSD2 is in focus. Is there a certain area that is of particular interest to you? What are you hoping to learn and how will it be able to have influence on the bank?

PSD2, or regulation in general, is still too often seen in the industry as an obstacle or expense. I was recently asked at a presentation how we deal with it, where now FinTechs must comply with increasing regulation. FinTechs have always had to follow regulations – and we at FinLeap have placed special attention to these issues from the outset, not only since becoming a financial holding. I think the main difference is how and with what attitude one is engages with the topic. With our business models, we’ve consistently been mindful about how we can implement regulation in way that means value for the company and not only doing the minimum necessary in order to comply with the regulations. Our solarisBank is a good example here. The business model is based, among other things, on providing solutions that enable fully-regulated banking services to our customers. I’m curious as to which Bankathon ideas develop in this direction.

All information and registration details about the event can be found at