The Financial Technology Report is pleased to announce The Top 25 Financial Technology CEOs of Europe for 2020. Their companies are recognized as industry leaders in Europe and globally, and they have expertly navigated the rapidly expanding fintech market to produce disruptive technologies that are changing the way companies and individuals manage their financial functions. This year’s awardees have driven innovation and expansion for their companies, and their guidance will help ensure sustained high growth moving forward.
Beyond their executive leadership, these CEOs have garnered commendable reputations among their colleagues and peers. Their ability to foster highly productive and cooperative work environments has vastly contributed to success in scaling their organizations from startup to growth phase to large enterprise. As the shift away from traditional banking drives demand for cutting edge digital offerings, these individuals seek to remain at the forefront of the evolving fintech market. Please join us in recognizing the achievements of The Top 25 Financial Technology CEOs of Europe for 2020.
1. Sebastian Siemiatkowski
Sebastian Siemiatkowski has been the Chief Executive Officer of Klarna for over a decade. He founded the company while completing his Master of Science degree in economics and business from the Stockholm School of Economics. He co-founded Klarna along with Niklas Adalberth and Victor Jacobsson to fill the niche for a safe and easy payment system, and initiated the “buy now, pay later” phase of online shopping. Klarna is now the highest-valued private fintech in Europe, and the fourth highest worldwide. Within Klarna, Siemiatkowski has gained a praise-worthy reputation for cultivating a family-like company culture with high employee retention.
Siemiatkowski has remained the CEO of his company for 15 years, watching its rapid growth expand across Europe and even hit North American shores. The company recently raised $650 million in an equity funding round, giving it a post money valuation of $10.6 billion. The company also recently announced a five-year partnership with Macy’s to provide more payment options. Klarna currently serves 85 million customers and 205,000 merchant users, including big names like Nike, Asos, and fellow Swedish business H&M.
2. Jürg Hunziker
Jürg Hunziker’s 30 years’ experience in financial technology and banking have made him an international leader. He now serves as the Chief Executive Officer of Avaloq, a company that has worked to digitize and automate the financial industry for decades, and is still expanding into a wider, more ubiquitous global market. Most recently the company was acquired by Japanese IT solutions giant NEC, which according to Hunziker, will allow Avaloq to help further enlarge its geographical footprint across the globe. Within the company, Hunziker has garnered a reputation for promoting a positive company culture while driving the company forward to success.
Hunziker joined Avaloq as chief markets officer and deputy CEO in 2016. Prior to Avaloq, he oversaw SunGard’s European division. He was also previously the head of product management at Ascom Holding AG and a VP at Devon Systems, which was later acquired by SunGard. In his spare time, Hunziker is known to be an avid cyclist, runner, and hiker, preferring to spend time out of the office and in nature. Hunziker also supports sustainability and environmental protection charities and works actively as a conservationist.
3. Pieter van der Does
Pieter van der Does co-founded Adyen in 2006, and currently serves as its Chief Executive Officer. Adyen is a Netherlands-based payment company that allows businesses to accept e-commerce, mobile, and point-of-sale payments, and has more than 3,500 customers. After a successful IPO in 2018, van der Does landed a spot on the Forbes World Billionaires list. Adyen’s technology has also been instrumental during the COVID-19 pandemic, and recently, the company linked its point-of-sale terminal and platform units to facilitate the quick set-up of contactless transactions for “curbside” shopping. Van der Does is known for fostering an open workplace culture and utilizing proactive HR strategies to contribute to the success of both the company and its employees.
Van der Does has held several leadership positions since the mid-1990s, previously working as head of operational management and corporate finance for ING Netherlands, chief commercial officer for Bibit Global Payment Services (which he also co-founded along with Arnout Schuijff), and head of sales and account management at the Royal Bank of Scotland. Van der Does and Schuijff sold Bibit to the Royal Bank of Scotland before partnering up once again to form Adyen. Van der Does received a Master of Economics degree from the University of Amsterdam.
4. Kristo Käärmann
Kristo Käärmann currently serves as the Chief Executive Officer of Transferwise, the London-based online money transfer service founded in January 2011. Käärmann and fellow Transferwise co-founder Taavet Hinrikus met at a party and bonded over the unfair banking practices surrounding exchange rates. Each were paid in Euros but had bills to pay in other European currencies. As a result, their paychecks always seemed to suffer. The unseen fees and unpredictable exchange rates used by banks prompted Käärmann to branch out and create his own service. Now his company Transferwise works tirelessly to cut fees, ensuring the money you earn stays in your bank account, even as it moves across borders.
Käärmann has led his company through substantial growth this year. Transferwise’s 2020 revenue was £302.6 million, up 70% from its fiscal year 2019 revenue of £179 million, and the company is in its fourth consecutive year of profitability. Prior to founding Transferwise, Käärmann worked as a management consultant at PricewaterhouseCoopers and Deloitte and founded Investor.ee. He received his Master of Science degree in mathematics and computer science from the University of Tartu.
5. Paolo Bertoluzzo
Paolo Bertoluzzo has led Nexi as its Chief Executive Officer since 2018. Nexi was formerly the Istituto Centrale delle Banche Popolari Italiane S.p.A. (ICBPI), a bank specializing in payment systems. After being acquired by Bain Capital, Advent International, and Clessidra SGR in 2015, the company changed its name to Nexi in November 2017. Their signature CartaSi card business was also renamed to Nexi Payments at that time. Bertoluzzo has been integral in developing and executing Nexi’s strategy and expanding its position in the digital payments market, all while noticeably enhancing the company’s customer satisfaction rate. Most recently, he led Nexi through its acquisition of SIA SpA to create one of Europe’s biggest payment providers. The deal situates the joint company as one of the nation’s top 10 publicly traded businesses, with annual revenue of about €1.8 billion and a market value of more than €15 billion.
Bertoluzzo was previously at Vodaphone, where he most recently served as the chief commercial operations and strategy officer. Currently, he also serves as a member of the Politecnico di Milano Advisory Board and served as a member of the worldwide telecom industry association, the GSMA Board, from 2013 to 2016. He completed his undergraduate degree at Politecnico di Milano and received a Master of Business Administration degree from INSEAD.
6. Samir Desai
Company: Funding Circle
Britain’s biggest peer-to-peer lender is headed by Chief Executive Officer Samir Desai, who came up with the idea for his company over a few pints with friends in a London pub in 2008. At this time, a global economic crisis had all but halted big bank lending to small-to-midsize businesses. Desai proposed taking banks out of the equation altogether and letting companies borrow money from investment pools. Desai, along with his friends from his Oxford days James Meekings and Andrew Mullinger, decided there was something to it and all three quit their jobs and got to work launching Funding Circle in 2010. Now, Funding Circle works to revolutionize the outdated lending system and build a better deal for small businesses.
Now the company has a presence in several European countries and the U.S. and has been used by over 50,000 small businesses and 80,000 investors. Despite economic challenges resulting from the global COVID-19 pandemic, Funding Circle saw its income grow by 24% in the first half of 2020. The company also successfully launched its coronavirus business interruption loan scheme (CBILS), which delivered over £1 billion in loans to small- and medium-sized enterprises in the U.K. Prior to starting his own company, Desai worked as an executive at Olivant and as a management consultant at The Boston Consulting Group. He received a degree in economics and management from the University of Oxford.
7. Guillaume Pousaz
Guillaume Pousaz is the Chief Executive Officer and Founder of Checkout, a leading global payments provider that operates under a mission to alter and improve how businesses interact with financial institutions. Just last year, a Series A funding round set its valuation just shy of $2 billion, and this year, the company also saw a successful Series B round, raising $150 million. With Checkout, Pousaz hopes to permanently change the way people interact with their money, and the company has remained competitive among companies such as Stripe and Adyen.
Born in Switzerland, Pousaz studied mathematical engineering at Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale De Lausanne before enrolling in an economics bachelor’s program at HEC Lausanne. He then set up multiple startups, including NetMerchant and Opus Payments, which later became Checkout.com. Checkout.com is now one of the largest fintechs globally, with a team of over 850 staff members.
8. Oliver Prill
Dr. Oliver Prill is the Chief Executive Officer at Tide, one of the fastest-growing fintech companies focused on SME banking. With more than 20 years of leadership experience, Dr. Prill has worked in financial services, banking, and insurance. The executive joined Tide in 2018. Originally from Hamburg, Dr. Prill previously studied and lived in the U.K. As an industry veteran with extensive experience, he's made a concerted effort to take on roles that allow him to apply his expert ability to solve complex problems. Notably, Dr. Prill has a passion for helping small businesses, citing their energy as an inspiration. He knows that for too long, they have been let down by traditional banks, and he aims to provide more efficient and personalized service through Tide. In his current role as CEO, Dr. Prill oversees strategic roadmaps, new features, and the company's long-term ambitions.
Before joining the London-based fintech firm, he was the chief operating officer at Kreditech, the German online lender, for three years. He played a pivotal role in transforming the business into a global fintech leader. Before this, he held executive positions at Optanus and C&A Bank, as well as roles at The Royal Bank of Scotland and Direct Line Group. He began his career as an associate to the senior engagement manager at McKinsey & Company in London. He received his Doctor of Philosophy degree from the University of Oxford.
9. Joanne Dewar
Company: Global Processing Services
Joanne Dewar is the Chief Executive Officer of Global Processing Services (GPS), which offers payment processing and industry-leading technology in payments and fintech. She joined the company — which Visa and MasterCard accredited to process transactions globally — in 2013 as head of implementations. Dewar spent the next seven years rising through the ranks, as she was promoted to chief operating officer in 2016, then deputy CEO and eventually CEO in 2018. A recognized industry thought leader in the payments industry, she's overseen the launch of Revolut, Starling Bank, Monzo Prepaid, and Treezor during her tenure.
Over the last seven years, she's played a pivotal role in transforming GPS from a startup to a private equity-backed leader in the fintech sector. Dewar is propelled by a passion for positively influencing the world and creating meaningful change. She was previously the branch chair of NCT Charity. Before joining GPS, she was a project manager at BP, project and program manager at Aviva, and principal consultant at PricewaterhouseCoopers. She earned her master’s degree at the University of Oxford.
10. Breon Corcoran
Breon Corcoran became the Chief Executive Officer of WorldRemit in October 2018. WorldRemit’s technology has helped to transform the remittance industry from a traditionally cash-based, offline sector to an increasingly transparent, cashless industry. The money transfer company provides its services in over 50 countries and has approximately 3 million users. WorldRemit has experienced highly successful funding rounds nearly every year since their Series A round in 2014. This year, in light of the global pandemic, WorldRemit paid its success forward by offering £400,000 in vouchers to NHS workers in the U.K. to use towards the money they send home to look after their loved ones around the globe.
Corcoran was formerly the CEO of Paddy Power Betfair, one of the world’s largest online gaming companies. Prior to his affiliations with Paddy Power and Betfair, he was a vice president at J.P Morgan and also spent time working at Bankers Trust. Corcoran has had leadership roles in the digital business sector throughout Europe, the U.S., and Australia, putting him in an excellent position to lead the 100% cashless mobile money company that operates on a global scale. Corcoran received his bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Trinity College Dublin and a Master of Business Administration degree from INSEAD.
11. Sunil Chandra
Sunil Chandra is the Chief Executive Officer of OakNorth, a position he has held since 2019. OakNorth is a U.K.-based bank that provides small- and medium-sized businesses with opportunities for business and property loans that big-name banks may not provide. OakNorth’s next-generation credit platform has seen tremendous growth over the past decade, and the company recently announced a partnership with AML provider ComplyAdvantage. The partnership will allow OakNorth to offer a new onboarding experience to its customers and fully comply with AML regulations.
Chandra was previously a vice president at Google and was with the company for 12 years. In his time leading Google’s talent acquisition and operations, he increased the company’s global footprint from 7,000 to over 100,000 employees. Prior to Google, Chandra was the chief operating officer of Barclays Capital and director of administration at McKinsey & Company. Chandra received a degree in computer engineering from University of Wollongong, and a degree in technology management from APESMA.
12. Florian Brokamp
Florian Brokamp is Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder of Thinksurance, the leading B2B insurtech for commercial insurances in Germany. Its solution covers the full consultation journey from customer needs and risk assessment to contract closing and policy issuance leveraging data analytics and artificial intelligence. The company was founded in 2015, following a stint at McKinsey & Company. The firm was started based on a hunch that Germany's insurance market could be more efficient, and this hunch turned out to be quite accurate. For three consecutive years, Thinksurance has been market leading in revolutionizing the German commercial insurance industry.
Brokamp hasn't merely led the burgeoning company to success but has had a significant impact on shaping Thinksurance's business model. With a strong focus on a family-like corporate culture and a human-centric leadership style, he sees his now ~100 employees as the heart and soul of the company. The company's data analytics products—an idea Brokamp pitched on a napkin during a lunch break—have become a large source of Thinksurance's total revenue. Blessed with a high level of energy and driven to accomplish something significant, he studied law and business administration – two separate degrees in parallel – before following his destiny as entrepreneur.
13. Lex Greensill
Lex Greensill is the Chief Executive Officer of Greensill, the company he founded in 2011. His company has become a leading provider of supply chain finance solutions, and in 2018, Greensill was awarded Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire for his services to the U.K. economy. The company now has over 1,000 employees across the globe and serves customers across Europe, North America, Latin America, Africa, and Asia.
Greensill credits growing up on his parents’ sugar cane farm in Australia for introducing him to the strains of a weak supply chain, thus inspiring the creation of Greensill Capital. Prior to founding Greensill Capital, he created Morgan Stanley’s global supply chain finance business and led Citi’s EMEA supply chain finance business. Greensill completed his undergraduate degree in Queensland while taking courses at night school so he could continue to work on his parents’ farm throughout the day. Later, he received his Master of Business Administration from Manchester Business School.
14. Ammar Akhtar
Ammar Akhtar is the Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Yobota, a cloud-based fintech company based in London. Founded in 2016, Yobota removes the cost of manufacturing financial products to make products more accessible, cheaper, and fairer for consumers. After spending almost a decade working in consultancy, project management, and product development, Akhtar developed a vision — alongside his co-founders — to create a platform that would allow access to new and relevant financial products. Notably, he's led the company through the coronavirus pandemic. A research study commissioned by Yobota found that fintech usage in the U.K. jumped by 50% during the lockdown period.
Akhtar has significant experience in development, product creation, complex projects, team leadership, and mentoring. Throughout his career, he's led teams to build and release several apps for clients and create advanced prototypes to forecast financial transactions. Before starting Yobota, Akhtar led product development at BOLDROCKET, where he oversaw prototyping, and spent over five years as managing principal and U.K. Innovation Labs lead at Capco. Previously he was at Merrill Lynch, Accenture, and UBS Investment Bank. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in mathematics from Imperial College London.
15. Bill Holmes
Company: Radius Payment Solutions
Bill Holmes founded UK Fuels in 1990, a diesel bunkering company he was able to build based on his previous work experience at Esso Petroleum. He was able to expand the company over the course of the next 20 years, leading to an impressive merger of over 20 European fuel card companies throughout the U.K., Ireland, and mainland Europe. This 2013 merger created Radius Payment Solutions, the premier player in the European fuel card market. Headquartered in Crewe, Cheshire, and with a presence in nearly 30 countries around the globe, Radius Payment launched Britain’s first fuel card in 2016.
Radius has since extended its reach by opening offices in Singapore, and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. As Chief Executive Officer, Holmes also recently guided Radius through its acquisition of Connect Total Communications, a move which closely follows the launch in July of Radius Connect, a converged technology, mobile, and fixed line provider to U.K. businesses. Homes received a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry from the University of Leeds.
16. Andrew Williams
Company: Quantile Technologies
Andrew Williams is the Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Quantile Technologies, a multilateral optimization provider. The London-based company, which launched its first services in 2017, reduces the risk in financial markets, delivers advanced strategies that rebalance and reduce counterparty risk between market participants, and ultimately makes the financial system safer. Williams, together with industry veteran Stephen O’Connor, started Quantile when they realized there was a need for competition and innovation in the sector. Erupting onto the scene with services that are built for performance and backed by the latest cloud technology, Quantile experienced rapid growth and has since been recognized as the market leader in its field.
Prior to founding Quantile, Williams spent over 18 years at Morgan Stanley, where he held senior trading and risk management roles in London, New York, and Tokyo. Before this, he was briefly a Chemical Engineer at British Nuclear Fuels. He received his Master of Engineering degree from the University of Manchester.
17. David Khuat-Duy
David Khuat-Duy founded Ivalua almost two decades ago to develop best-in class procurement software. Since then, the company has been recognized across the globe as a leader in spend management software vendors. Seeing consistent growth and success for almost 20 years, Ivalua continues to impress industry analysts under Khuat-Duy’s leadership as Chief Executive Officer. Recently, Ivalua was selected by engineering company John Cockerill to digitize all processes, optimizing the Group's contribution to businesses, governments, and communities worldwide in the sectors of energy, defense, the environment, transport, and infrastructures.
Prior to founding Ivalua in 2000, he worked as an SAP consultant at PricewaterhouseCoopers where he oversaw the architecture, design, and implementation of ERP for international accounts. Now with Ivalua, Khuat-Duy has stated that his goal is to help change the world in which procurement departments operate, so they are able to more quickly adapt to new technologies and unforeseen challenges. Khuat-Duy graduated from Ecole Polytechnique with a Ph.D. in mathematics.
18. Tom Wood
Tom Wood is the Chief Executive Officer of Cazana, an automotive fintech company that provides vehicle data, valuations, and audiences for the future of mobility. The self-described technology entrepreneur founded Cazana in 2012 and has been at the company's helm since its inception. The London-based company combines the executive’s two passions — technology and cars — and uses big data and predictive analytics to assess every vehicle's value and risks on the road. Cazana also operates Car & Classic, the largest classic and specialist car marketplace in Europe, of which Wood is also the CEO. The business attracts millions of visitors monthly and helps nearly 2,000 car dealers advertise their stock daily.
Wood has a business and innovation background, having led technology teams within investment banking and pharmaceutical sectors. Wood is a serial tech entrepreneur who has started, transformed and exited several technology-led businesses. Notably, he has also founded and sold companies in the marketing technology space. Before founding Cazana, Wood was a non-executive director at onebite, managing director of Goode International, and director of Severn-Lamb. He founded Kudan, augmented reality and digital production agency in 2010, which is now listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange. When he’s not working to help people work with cars better, Wood can be found racing his 1965 Cortina 1500 GT race car as well as maintaining his ailing fleet of classic cars. He holds a master’s degree from the University of Bristol.
19. Nuno Sebastiao
Nuno Sebastiao is the Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Feedzai, the Portuguese company that has become a leader in developing AI and machine learning software to combat bank fraud. The company was started as a result of a program from Carnegie Mellon University to create new knowledge in the areas of ICT from Portugal through research and education. Sebastiao has seen the company through multiple successful funding rounds, and now with over 400 employees, Feedzai keeps banks, retailers, payments processors, and their customers safe worldwide.
Sebastiao had a strong start in the AI world, working as an engineer for the European Space Agency before branching out to his own startup. There, he also worked closely with several other successful startups, where he was able to learn the ins and outs of founding one’s own software company. He was also the Founder and CEO of Oristeba, a space consulting company, and was a consultant at Critical Software and Deloitte. He holds a Master of Science degree in computer science and a Master of Business Administration degree from the London Business School.
20. Ben Bilski
Benjamin Bilski is the founder and CEO of NAGA Group AG, a powerful financial system that unifies personal finance and investment within an intuitive ecosystem that is above social. Benjamin, a Forbes 30 under 30 member, is a serial entrepreneur and former professional swimmer/champion.
In 2015, Benjamin set out to disrupt the trading and fintech industries by making them more open and accessible to everyone, with NAGA. NAGA was founded on the principle that anyone and everyone should be able to manage their wealth and achieve control over their financial future. NAGA creates a seamless experience that brings everything but, most importantly, everyone together. Any trader, regardless of their expertise level, can log in on NAGA to trade, invest, acquire, earn and finally connect with the thousands of other traders in the platform.
21. Tamaz Georgadze
Chief Executive Officer Tamaz Georgadze founded Raisin with what he described as a very simple goal: “to help consumers earn more on their savings.” He also set to work breaking down logistical barriers so the platform could be accessible to customers across Europe. Now, residents of 31 countries can utilize the service, which has partnered with nearly 80 banks. Georgadze’s company has remained successful through the pandemic, and has even launched several partnerships, including a collaboration with Klarna that will help it facilitate new savings products for its German customers.
Prior to developing Raisin, Georgadze spent a decade with McKinsey & Company, including a stint as principal leading McKinsey’s savings and investment products. He received his Ph.D. in agricultural economics and an Honors Law Degree from the University of Giessen. Before his education in Germany, he obtained an international economics degree from Tbilisi State University in Georgia.
22. Tim Sievers
Company: Deposit Solutions
Tim Sievers founded Deposit Solutions in 2011 and currently serves as the company’s CEO. The company was considered a revolutionary presence in open banking when it debuted and has since successfully expanded from its Hamburg headquarters across Europe. The company has seen meteoric growth since its inception with several wildly successful funding rounds, and most recently, the company launched its deposits platform in the U.S. and is introducing its new savings portal SaveBetter.com. Sievers strongly believes that their open banking technology will become the standard for the future.
Prior to founding Deposit Solutions, the pioneer built up tech companies and worked in private equity. He was educated at the University of Hamburg, from where he holds a doctorate in economics. He also received a Master of Science in economics from the London School of Economics and Political Science and a Master of Arts degree in politics, philosophy, and economics from the University of Oxford.
23. Julian Teicke
Julian Teicke developed the Wefox online insurance management platform to help customers, insurance brokers, and insurance companies maintain clear communication. Now Europe’s leading insurtech, Wefox, has over half a million customers. Within a year, Teicke was able to announce a Series A investment of $28 million, and in December 2019, the company announced a $110 million in a Series B extension. The company has grown to employ a staff of over 400 and is continuing to expand throughout the continent.
Wefox was launched in 2014, while Teicke was still at DeinDeal. He shares the credit for the ideas behind this business plan with his father, who is a 30-year veteran of the insurance industry. Before creating his own company, Teicke helped launch Chocri in the U.K. and helped ease Groupon into U.K. markets. In 2011, he co-founded Swiss e-commerce website DeinDeal, where he served as COO until 2015. Teicke received a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of St. Gallen.
24. Arik Shtilman
Arik Shtilman is the Chief Executive Officer of Rapyd, a global payment network that works with enterprises and mobile platforms to help them make digital payments and withdrawals. In September of this year, the company announced that it has expanded its European platform, now enabling impressive payment abilities in over 100 countries via a single payment platform. Shtilman is known for fostering a company culture of agility and inquisitiveness, and he executed an aggressive recruitment strategy along with Rapyd’s finely tuned HR department to grow his company from 30 employees to 200 in just over the course of a year.
Shtilman entered the fintech sector in 2016, when he decided to sell his cloud computing company and cross over into the realm of payments. Prior to Rapyd, Shtilman was the CEO and founder of ITNAVIGATR, a cloud-based management and performance company. He was also previously a project manager at IBM Israel. Since then, he has garnered a reputation for rapidly building high-growth ventures.
25. Ben James
Tradeplus24 was founded by Chief Executive Officer and co-founder Ben James and three of his friends in Zurich in 2016, and while much younger than the majority of their competition, they have quickly become one of the leading invoice financing organizations in Switzerland. Even big banks like Credit Suisse have begun integrating Tradeplus24’s products into their offerings. Most recently, Tradeplus24 joined the Australian Finance Group’s panel of finance providers to offer its loan product.
James says their innovative products have helped SMEs leverage their accounts receivables and expand their businesses. The B2B-structured lender focuses on supporting mid-market companies.
James’ strong commercial acumen and leadership have helped Tradeplus24 become a reliable way for companies to raise funds in a simpler, more cost-effective way. Before Tradeplus24, James held several management roles at GE Capital, was the head of direct insurance at Banco Santander, and was the head of insurance and business development at Cembra Money Bank AG. James received his architectural engineering degree from the University of Leeds.