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Rapyd CEO Arik Shtilman on the Competition for Big Money In 2024

Rapyd Co-Founder and CEO Arik Shtilman sits down with John Defterios, global journalist of CNN, Reuters and PBS Television, at the 2024 Dubai Fintech Summit to discuss the Competition for Big Money in 2024.

John: How have your recent acquisitions impacted your ability to influence the financial industry?

Arik: We’ve nearly completed four acquisitions, which has significantly scaled our operations globally. This growth allows us to be more influential in the financial sector, similar to playing a strategic game of Pacman where we aim to be the dominant player.

John: What influenced your decision to establish a significant presence in Dubai?

Arik: Dubai was chosen for its potential as a business hub from the start in 2016. After a brief visit during the COVID pandemic in 2020, I was convinced that Dubai, a city that felt like the future, needed a strong presence from us. This city now serves as a strategic base for our operations in the Middle East and Africa, supporting our global expansion.

John: How does the startup culture in Israel, known as ‘Startup Nation,’ influence your company’s ethos?

Arik: Our company’s culture is heavily influenced by Israel’s dynamic startup environment, where there’s a common entrepreneurial spirit to challenge norms and innovate persistently. Despite our initial lack of experience in financial services, our willingness to challenge the status quo has been key to our success and growth.

John: Which markets do you consider challenging and potentially avoid due to regulatory complexities?

Arik: Markets like China and India, despite their vast opportunities, present considerable regulatory challenges that make them less attractive. We focus on more predictable markets like Southeast Asia and Latin America, as well as the Middle East, where we can expect steady growth and less regulatory unpredictability.

John: Can being a smaller, more agile company be an advantage in today’s market?

Arik: Absolutely, being nimble allows for Rapyd decision-making and execution, which is crucial in a startup’s early stages. However, as companies grow, maintaining this agility becomes challenging but essential for sustained success.

John: How are you managing the Rapyd growth of your company?

Arik: Managing growth involves emotional resilience and strategic foresight. It’s about winning and ensuring the company’s culture and operational efficiency scale appropriately. I liken it to riding a roller coaster—exciting yet challenging—and not everyone is suited for this ride.

John: What changes in FinTech are particularly significant for Rapyd?

Arik: The shift from prioritising growth at all costs to focusing on profitability and operational efficiency has been significant. We’ve had to become more selective in client engagement and more disciplined overall, which has greatly improved our business operations and financial health.

John: How do you view the role of regulation in FinTech, especially concerning innovations like AI?

Arik: Regulation is crucial, especially when it involves financial transactions where errors can have serious repercussions. Regulators need to embrace technology more fully, recognising that advancements like AI can enhance efficiency and security.

John: What future trends in FinTech should we be aware of?

Arik: The push by major brands to establish their payment methods is a major trend. This move towards digital wallets and payment platforms requires robust backend infrastructure, which presents opportunities for companies like Rapyd that provide these solutions.

John: With the ongoing consolidation and growth, how do you see the role of big tech in financial services?

Arik: While big tech companies are becoming increasingly involved in financial services, traditional giants like Visa and MasterCard already dominate this space and will likely keep big tech from taking over.

John: Looking forward, will Rapyd continue to expand, or do you see potential acquisition targets?

Arik: Rapyd intends to continue its aggressive growth trajectory, staying competitive and proactive in the FinTech space.