Let's Talk Payments had the pleasure of interviewing Marcin Truszel, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Kontomatik. Read on to find out what he had to say:
LTP: Hello, Marcin. Could you tell more about Kontomatik, how it got started and what is your role in it?
Marcin Truszel: Kontomatik is a banking API that allows financial companies to access account, KYC and transactional data sets from a user’s bank account. It was derived from a personal finance management application called Kontomierz.pl. Back in 2009, I started this project to provide an online tool for a better financial management in Poland. To make this tool truly effective and adopted, it was decided to let people sync their accounts automatically via banking APIs. The problem was that no APIs were available seven years ago. Hence, we had to code an API to every single bank in Poland from scratch. Once we developed the technology, some of the banks came to ask and inquired about using our API for their products. That’s how Kontomatik got started and it became the top priority ever since.
I am the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Kontomatik. I focus on the strategic plans and their implementation, but also oversee marketing and sales activities. Next to this, I often represent Kontomatik at international events.
LTP: We’ve heard a lot of updates from Kontomatik last year. How did 2016 go for you?
MT: The year 2016 has definitely been a great one for Kontomatik. We have extended our technology team and as a result, we were able to connect more banks in new countries. In 2016 alone, we launched in three new countries (the UK, Portugal and Italy) with an 80% coverage of the market. Next to this, all of our connections in existing countries have been receiving updates and enhancements. Apart from that, we also designed a new product that works on top of Kontomatik Banking API – the Financial Health Indicator, which is made to facilitate the quick launch of the online lending products.
We have also achieved lots of progress beyond our technology. This year, we have attended a total of 20 international conferences and countless local events. We also exhibited and spoke at numerous events. Most notably, we were present at the Sibos panel discussion dedicated to PSD2 and showcased our mobile-friendly technology at Finovate London. In 2016, we have also onboarded a great number of clients, and we are happy that all of the integrations went smooth and fast.
LTP: Wow, this sounds great. How about your plans for 2017?
MT: There are many unexplored countries where banking APIs are needed and it is never easy to make a right choice by yourself. However, developing APIs for the countries requested by our clients seem to be a great strategy; we help our clients grow their businesses while expanding globally ourselves.
Apart from that, in 2016 we already made steps to steer Kontomatik away from a being a banking API-only company. With the release of Financial Health Indicator, we made a step towards becoming a software company for the financial services industry and are planning to move in this direction. There are a few more products that we plan to release this year – products that are designed to understand the customer better.
Nevertheless, regulation comes first. The year 2017 is the most important year for the implementation of the Payment Services Directive 2 and we will closely observe this process.
LTP: Speaking of PSD2, what are your thoughts about it and what does it mean for the banks?
MT: PSD2 is certainly a much-needed and a very wise move from the European Union. This update in the directive will majorly facilitate the growth of the FinTech sector and will contribute substantially towards cheaper and faster payments.
As for the banks, it brings both good and bad news. Banks have been known as one of the most conservative organizations and PSD2 is a certain catalyst that will make the banks change – whether they want it or not. From the perspective of the banks, they will have to bear higher costs to stay compliant, while the released data could be used to their disadvantage by various FinTech companies. On the flipside, PSD2 opens the doors for some great innovations in banking. And the faster the bankers understand it, the better it is for everyone. Instead of being afraid of releasing the data, banks should think how they can benefit from it. Essentially, if every bank develops and maintains good APIs, it will receive lots of amazing products from the FinTech developers.
LTP: How do you feel about the competition in the banking API sector?
MT: There are only a few companies that offer aggregated financial data outside of the US, and only a fractional percentage of these countries has been covered till date. Hence, both we and the competitors have a long way to go. Having said this, there are a few companies that challenge us, yet I consider it as healthy. It is always good to know that staying slow for a month or two may actually set your behind a competitor, however, I do feel that we are leading the market in terms of the quality of our technology, geographical availability and the speed of integration.