hub.berlin: Interview with founder Miriam WohlfarthJuly 1, 2017
With her startup RatePay, founder Miriam challenged what seemed impossible in the payment industry and created a revolutionary way to pay online. In our interview, she explains how technology will change today’s financial services and what’s the best advise for young entrepreneurs.
What is RatePAY about how can users benefit from it?
Miriam Wohlfarth: RatePAY offers an easy solution with 100% payment default protection to process the most popular online payment methods (open invoice, partial payments, instalments, direct debit). The online shop receives an instant credit decision during the checkout process without the need for downstream processes (e.g. Postident) or redirection.
Buyers also get credit approval in realtime and can then conveniently pay via open invoice, in instalments or by direct debit. RatePAY is extremely secure for all parties. Buyers only pay once they have received their goods and merchants are protected by a 100% payment guarantee.
What made you want to become an entrepreneur and what is it that you like about it?
My business idea and my entrepreneurial spirit came about as a result of my professional background and the work I carried out at various payment service providers (PSP) over many years.
I realized very early on that no PSP concentrated on the local market demand in Germany, where most online shoppers want to pay by invoice after delivery and demand an instalment solution that is online and in realtime. By focusing on the major retailer in Germany that has enjoyed long-standing success by offering such solutions, I strived to make these payment methods available for all online merchants.
I saw this as a huge opportunity because over 60 percent of Germans are not keen on using credit cards or PayPal. With my knowledge and ably assisted by my co-founders, RatePAY was born. Our objective was to create an online solution with a payment guarantee for merchants. From the merchant’s perspective, payment by invoice and instalment payments with a credit decision in real time are just as easy as using a credit card.
We initially stumbled upon this idea during the height of the financial crisis, but at that point in time, it was extremely difficult to secure capital for a venture such as this. But we made it. Today, RatePAY employs more than 115 staff and can boast a turnover of over EUR 1.1 billion, making us one of the market leaders in the payment industry.
I have worked tirelessly over many years to establish online payments. I am also a real payment enthusiast and believe I have a keen understanding of what customers want.
Today, what I enjoy most about my job is that I have the freedom to pursue my visions. I can bring ideas to life and put my stamp on a company. I turned my passion into a profession and love what I do.
Do you have any advice for start-up founders trying to build a business in the FinTech sector?
In my opinion, the most important thing is to have no fear, simply go for it. Be brave. Even if you aren’t successful straight away, at least you’ve had a go and the experience will stand you in good stead.
Not being afraid to make mistakes is generally a good piece of advice to remember. Mistakes always happen; how you learn from them is what really counts. Sometimes you have to make do with the second-best solution – if in doubt, there is always time later on to fine tune the solution. What counts is acting fast.
If you are considering starting a company, I would recommend getting in touch with experts for the difficult issues and taking their advice on board, before launching the business if possible. Especially in the field of fintechs there are many legislative regulations and requirements in the fields of data protection, IT, law, etc. You can’t adopt a laissez-faire attitude to these.
It is worth seeking quality, high-value advice here, even if it ends up costing you a bit more. Otherwise, you will end up paying twice as much somewhere along the line. You should also deal thoroughly with BaFin.
I would also advise fintech founders to build up a solid, reliable network, attend renowned industry events, follow specialist media and use social media platforms, above all Twitter. This is important for keeping an eye on trends and ensuring innovations don’t pass you by.
How will technology change today’s financial services?
Financial services will become sleeker, more transparent, more convenient and cheaper. Customers will increasingly benefit from custom products, tailored to their personal situations. Traditional banking services will be taken over more and more by fintechs and banks will become suppliers of account data. The supplier will no longer be the focal point; the spotlight will instead fall upon customers.
What are you looking forward to at the hub.berlin?
I’m looking forward to meeting exciting people with whom I can discuss the latest innovations in the fintech industry.