In this edition, we talked with Rafael Stark, founder and CEO of Stark Bank, a fintech that offers solutions for companies to automate financial services and expand their banking operations. The company brought the first banking API in Brazil to the market. With its Open Banking technology, the fintech enables customers to conduct transactions with greater efficiency and productivity.
In 2019, Stark Bank received an investment led by Iporanga Ventures and, in 2020, it participated in the Y Combinator acceleration program.
1. Rafael, how challenging was 2020 for Stark Bank?
First, we must point out that it was a difficult time for most people. Still, talking about business, it was a year that showed everyone the importance of being online. While physical enterprises suffered from several restrictive measures, online companies have grown a lot, precisely because they do not need to interrupt their operations and can remain available to customers. As Stark Bank serves technology companies and facilitates the online transformation of traditional companies, we had a great result in 2020 — mainly after the month of May. Regarding the volume traded and the revenue, we had growth rates of approximately 30% per month.
2. And how big is Stark Bank today in terms of numbers of customers and employees?
We have grown a lot over the past few months, but it is worth remembering that our operations are focused exclusively on medium and large companies. For that reason, our goal is not to have a base with thousands of customers. Today, we serve approximately 300 companies — among them Claro, Loft, Ingresse, Kovi, Rebel, Guiabolso, and Buser. We want to solve the headaches and needs of these big companies, especially because our product makes a lot more sense for those who make a certain number of transactions. Regarding our team, we have already reached a total of 20 employees. Our goal is to triple the team in the next quarter.
3. Regarding the solutions offered to companies, what are the advantages of Stark Bank?
Our major focus is on the transactional part, that is, on Cash Management. Thus, we simplified operations such as accounts payable, accounts receivable, payroll, bank account validation, payment of suppliers, taxes, concessionaires, among others. That being said, I believe that our great differential is technology and focus on the product. We were able to offer medium and large companies an excellent banking infrastructure. We automated financial processes, improved reconciliation, and also offered these companies productivity and scalability. These companies usually process a large number of banking transactions and face many operational challenges in receiving and making payments. In this sense, Stark solutions fit like a glove and provide peace of mind to the finance team.
4. And, for 2021, what news do you have for the market?
Our essence has always been very focused on APIs (Application Programming Interface), in the sense of enabling you to control your bank account. I believe we are the most focused player in the financial market with respect to banking APIs. For this reason, we are investing in PIX, which we view as the future of transactions. It should replace TED, payment slips, and even the debit card. We want to help companies receive large amounts from PIX via QR Code, perform reconciliation, and make receivables more visible. It is a big bet for this year.
We will also launch a corporate card operation together with MasterCard. It is a segment that could be exploited better in Brazil. We know companies that might have revenues between R$10 million and R$100 million, but have a limit of R$10,000 on the card. Moreover, some businessmen use a card as individuals and request a refund due to points, as individual cards give these and legal entity cards do not. We want to end this by offering a corporate card with an aggressive reward points plan that can be controlled through the API. In addition, as we are integrated with the main ERPs in the market, such as Oracle’s Netsuite and SAP, the card will also make financial reconciliation easier.
5. In addition to these products, what else is Stark thinking about for 2021?
Our focus is to be the best player in corporate cards and PIX for companies. This is our goal for 2021, and we will invest a lot in it, we seek perfection through Kaizen (continuous improvement in becoming leaner). We understand that this is the way: to be the best player in what we set out to solve and, only then, think about expanding. For the future, we want to expand our product offering to foreign exchange, investment, loans, and prepayment segments, among others. Some are proprietary, others together with partner financial institutions. However, these are plans for the next five years.
6. Still regarding 2021, what is your growth forecast?
We have an ambitious goal: we want to handle R$1 billion in December alone. So, in general, we should handle five to ten billion Reais throughout the year.
7. And what effects do you think Open Banking will have on the market and how will it affect Stark Bank?
We are pioneers in Open Banking in Brazil. We were the first banking API in the country. We started our work in early 2018, from the creation of an open system in which other companies can integrate with each other, extract information, and choose who to share with.
We welcome this prominence of the Central Bank in forcing other institutions to understand that this is the way. The existence of this exchange of information and sharing of bank details is good for everyone — as long as permitted by customers, of course. If the market communicates appropriately, risks decrease and the supply of better products grows, especially for good payers.
8. Finally, how do you see Stark Bank’s performance and relevance in the market?
I believe that a new generation of entrepreneurs from different areas is emerging in Brazil. With them, new solutions also appear that may positively affect society. We want to boost these entrepreneurs with the best possible financial technology, so that they can succeed in their business. This is what we want to build. As a high-technology fintech, we want to supply solutions to the financial needs of medium- to large-sized companies so that, consequently, in the future, we become one of the main banks in the country focused on legal entities.