Restructuring the management team through our hyper-growth phase
At Bitwala, our vision is to make access to innovative financial products as easy as possible. On our way to achieve this vision, we have rebuilt the set-up of our management team. Current CPO Kristina Walcker-Mayer becomes CEO of Bitwala, and co-founder Ben Jones takes Chairman position. We sat down with both to speak about this important step in Bitwala’s development.
Ben, how does the new set-up relate to Bitwala’s evolution?
It is very complicated to proactively take control of your own financial future these days. Millions of banking customers are frustrated since neither traditional banks nor neobanks manage to offer attractive and competitive investment solutions. Most wealth products on the market are very complex; you need to spend a lot of time and build up the knowledge to understand them.
At Bitwala, our vision is to empower people to manage and grow their wealth through innovative technologies like blockchain. Our free bank account combined with trading and investing in cryptocurrencies was the first step on the way to achieving this vision, but we will develop our product further and launch new innovative features still this year. We can massively disrupt the finance world by offering consumers the benefits of blockchain technology, but abstracting away the complexities.
I spent a lot of time reflecting last year and came to the conclusion that we have a really great plan. Whether we succeed or not comes down to execution and scaling. Kristina has built disruptive customer facing products in the hyper growth phases of tech companies such as N26 and Zalando. It makes sense to have someone at the helm who knows how to navigate the challenges of hypergrowth.
Kristina, why is now the right time for the change?
In the past months, Bitwala has seen tremendous growth, and we’ve been developing from a startup to a scale-up. Already in 2020, we grew dynamically and reached operational profitability just two years after launching our banking service. That’s a rarity among fintech startups worldwide! We’ve been continuing this dynamic growth trajectory in 2021. In the first quarter, we acquired 50,000 new customers and increased assets under management by 400 percent.
In the past six months, our team has grown by more than 50 percent. We are planning to launch new features and to reposition our brand still this year, and therefore expect continued strong growth for Bitwala. I feel honored to have the opportunity of guiding the company through this exciting and important phase and to help making innovative financial products accessible to a mass audience.
Describe your new responsibilities
Kristina: In my new role as CEO of Bitwala, I will be responsible for the company’s strategy, leading our management team and continue driving the development of our product on a transitional basis. Ben: As Chairman of the Advisory Board, I will still stay actively involved in the company’s development, supporting with blockchain and decentralised finance topics, fundraising and investor relations.
Ben, what are you most proud of the Bitwala journey so far?
I'm most proud of the people. When we started, we were just 3 people and a dog. Now we're over 100. It's been an incredibly humbling experience to see our team grow in size and the people grow as human beings. We've had good times and bad times, but we've always stuck together united by one culture. I can't wait to see what we achieve next.
Kristina, how have you been preparing for your new role? What are you looking forward to the most?
Since joining Bitwala as Chief Product Officer in September 2020, I have gained deep insights into our product, our customers' needs and expectations, the company structure and its unique culture as a whole. I worked very closely with Ben from the beginning, supported him as much as I could and was thus able to get a good overview of his tasks early on. But for me, the preparation for my new role is more than that: I also need to be able to put myself in the whole team’s shoes, no matter which role or level. Before joining Bitwala, I accompanied firms such as N26 and Zalando during radical scaling phases - as a leader, as a middle manager but also as a more junior employee.
Therefore, I know what it takes and how it feels to scale a startup across all levels. In my earlier roles I very often raised my hand when I didn't like something and wanted to change it, I haven't forgotten that. One of the biggest expectations I have to myself is to maintain the necessary empathy so the whole team can benefit from my experience. Together, we’re planning nothing less than to change the world: We’ve built the first crypto bank and that’s only the beginning. Guiding Bitwala’s talented, dedicated and passionate team, who’s leading a revolution to sustainably change the financial behavior of people around the world, is a great privilege for me.