The Billionaire Mind Behind Black Banx’s Revolutionary Digital Banking

German billionaire Michael Gastauer is an entrepreneur and innovator, having devised a groundbreaking approach to modern banking with his utterly digital bank, Black Banx. Offering general and crypto banking services to over 33 million customers in 180 countries, Gastauer’s fintech service is one of the world’s most notable. 

But how did Gastauer’s vision for a digital bank come to life, and what drove him to take a risk in a long-established industry with an already saturated market?

Black Banx’s success is rooted in Gastauer’s lifelong passion for finance. At the Global Banker Award 2018, where Gastauer was honored for Black Banx, he shared that his father helped open his eyes to what he wanted to do in life early on.

“When I was a boy, I would say about 13 years old, I asked my father, ‘How do I decide what to become later in life?’ And my father told me: ‘Choose a subject [and] work with something that you are really passionate about.’… And I said, ‘I’m very passionate about money’.”

He continued, “Now, the second advice my father gave me is the most important one. My father said: ‘Do something where you follow your heart. Do as a job, as a profession, what you really love.’ And this is what I did thirty years later when I founded [Black Banx]. I created a product. I created a company that is executing my wish of changing the world, turning the financial industry into a fairer place where people from 180 countries have the opportunity to participate and make a [global] bank account.”

This early passion led Gastauer to revolutionize the banking industry. At the time of his awarding, Black Banx celebrated 5 million customers. Gastauer said that his fintech company was on track to address the global problem of being “underbanked” — as the World Bank called it — or the state where people residing in very remote areas do not have access to bank services and the global financial market. 

Fast forward to 2023, Black Banx’s Q3 report, released in October 2023, boasts 33 million customers, a testament to its impactful reach and innovation. The revolutionary financial institution also generated US$158 million profit before tax with US$1.5 billion in revenue in the first nine months of the present year, marking its highest profit and revenue since Black Banx launched in 2015. 

Gastauer’s drive to innovate emerged from firsthand experiences with banking inefficiencies. His previous venture in card payment processing revealed the complexities of international financial transactions, inspiring the foundation of Black Banx. He said he was determined to create an online banking solution to revolutionize the traditional banking industry and make it easier for everyone to engage in the global banking market. 

He reflected on this in an interview with Employer News, published in May, saying: “I’ve always been interested in finance. However, with my previous business — a card payment processor — we had always had the issue of sending large amounts internationally, which never worked as fast and flawlessly as it should. Experiencing the pain points in banking, I created a solution to fix the cross-border payment issue globally.”

Gastauer proudly views Black Banx as his most outstanding achievement, as it revolutionized retail banking by enabling limitless transactions and nearly instantaneous international payments. The platform’s support for 28 FIAT currencies and two cryptocurrencies is a nod to its global inclusivity. Black Banx allows individual and business customers to send and receive international payments across different markets. 

Gastauer has emphasized Black Banx’s unique position in the market, driven by its commitment to accessibility and fairness in banking. In contrast to other fintechs, Black Banx maintains a flat fee structure for cross-border payments, enhancing its appeal.

“[Our] services are open to both private and business clients. I think it’s our commitment to making banking accessible for everyone that sets us apart from competitors. Other fintechs, for example, charge users a high percentage fee to complete cross-border transactions; we charge flat fees for cross-border payments, regardless of the currency and countries involved.”

Beyond financial success, Gastauer’s broader goals include workforce diversity and environmental sustainability, aiming for net zero emissions by 2030. Black Banx’s global remote workforce strategy exemplifies this sustainable approach: “We’re already highly sustainable due to our global remote workforce and work-from-anywhere policy, eliminating unnecessary transport to and from an office. We aim to be thoughtful and transparent in how we address the climate challenge and be accountable for our progress. After all, revenue shouldn’t be the only thing a company focuses on.”

Gastauer’s journey from a finance-enthusiastic youth to a leading fintech innovator highlights the transformative power of dedication and vision in advancing the industry and tackling broader societal challenges like underbanking and sustainability.