You may have noticed a trend recently to make investing more accessible and attainable for the general public. You shouldn’t have to have a Master’s degree and 5 years of professional experience to get the chance to make your first investments and shape your own future.
This is where Bitpanda comes in. Founded in 2014 in Vienna, the team is removing complicated financial barriers by harnessing the innovative power of digitized assets and blockchain technology. And yesterday, this leading European new broker, who is on a mission to democratize the complex world of investing, landed a €44.5 million Series A round to make their vision a reality.
We spoke with Eric Demuth, CEO, and co-founder, and an entrepreneur with an e-sports background, about the fintech sector, how bitcoin is becoming more mainstream, landing funding and a partnership at this difficult time, maintaining diversity and company culture when scaling up, and the future of bitcoin and crypto.
Could you tell us what makes Bitpanda unique from your competitors?
Bitpanda enables anyone to invest their money safely and quickly. By doing so, we are democratizing access to capital markets. By offering services like 24/7 trading, real-time settlement, savings plans, and cross-platform compatibility, Bitpanda has shown a deep understanding of the customer base as well as traditional pain points. Our platform is all about ease of use: an easy verification process gives you access to an intuitive, fast, and secure investing experience. Therefore, we offer simple deposit, purchase, and storage options that are so self-explanatory that you don’t have to be an IT specialist to trade crypto products. Bitpanda is a generation-wide broker. We see the 20-year-old student and the 50-year-old judge both using Bitpanda actively.
How have you seen your sector evolve over the last 5 years?
Bitpanda was founded in 2014 in Austria with the vision to make buying bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies as easy and secure as possible. Back in the days, it was a huge challenge to buy Bitcoin with a lot of uncertainties, costs, and risks involved! It’s incredible to see how the industry developed. Cryptocurrencies first emerged in 2009 when the world’s first decentralized currency, Bitcoin, was created. Since Bitcoin was introduced, there have been several thousand of other cryptocurrencies entering the market, and Bitcoin’s value has skyrocketed. It’s a matter of fact, that some of the more established cryptocurrency companies attracted institutional investors and even Wall Street attention.
While tremendous progress has been made in the past years on driving crypto awareness and improving user experience, we still aren’t there yet in terms of mass utilization.
While Bitcoin can definitely also be used as a means of payment, we are seeing that the asset is becoming more and more established. Bitcoin is digital gold and in a lot of regards even better than physical gold (cheaper to store and move around; better divisibility; tamper-proof and easily verifiable). That’s something a lot of smaller investors already understand. Institutional investors are adapting to this as well.
What do you predict for the next 5 years?
Bitcoin and crypto are becoming more and more mainstream. Usability is getting better and better, access to those assets will be very easy and straight-forward. Bitcoin will be a must-have asset in every investor’s – small or big – portfolio in 2025. On top of this, we are seeing much more regulation in the space, which is not only needed but will also help boost its credibility.
How have you had to adapt your business in the wake of COVID?
In recent months with the emerging COVID-19 crisis, we’ve seen an increase in demand for our services. This crisis has been a difficult time for everyone and we want to emphasize how much we take it seriously and our thoughts are with everyone who is struggling. This time also created a bit of a shift; with everyone staying indoors, and many businesses being asked to remain closed to contain outbreaks, investing got a whole new relevance for people.
Bitpanda has expanded to a huge team of 240+, since being founded in 2014. How have you navigated scaling up with retaining a strong company culture?
Especially during scale-up is it important to create a consistent and secure company culture. The underlying beliefs and values that shape an organization can be more difficult to manage when a company scales to 240+, and even more employees, but it is possible and just as necessary.
With the growth of Bitpanda comes the importance of enforcing a company mission that everyone genuinely wants to work towards and achieve. We want there to be a clear voice and value structure that flows into every team. This means we must democratize the complex world of investing – and our values. Along with that, transparency is also key to good company culture. You can’t expect to have a positive and consistent company culture if employees are not informed about all relevant information regarding the company. People want to know what they are working towards and who they are working with. Trust and transparency solidify team spirit while also keeping the necessary harmony intact.
You announced a strategic partnership with Speedinvest in April, in the middle of the hard lockdown. Now you announced that you have closed very important funding round. Could you tell us about that process?
Our main goal is to become the number one new broker for the mass market investment space. The strategic partnership with Speedinvest was primarily about further scaling Bitpanda’s success. This was new ground for us since we have been operating profitably and independently for more than five years. The current investment led by Valar Ventures is a major vote of confidence in Bitpanda and our vision from one of the world’s pre-eminent investors in successful tech companies.
By utilizing industry-leading technology and building innovative new financial tools, we’re democratizing investing and giving everyone access to the financial markets, no matter their financial means. We are making it possible for everyone to take ownership of their financial future and are providing our customers with financial knowledge and education in the process. Our goal is to become the leading investment and trading platform in Europe, not only for the people who are already into trading but for everyone. This funding will help us do just that and, crucially, continue to recruit some of the world’s leading talent to our team.
There’s a lot of talks recently about diversity and inclusion at work, how do you manage this at Bitpanda?
We know for a fact that when proper diversity and inclusion are embraced and properly executed, we unleash the best in creativity, ideas, and innovation. This is not only incredibly important to our culture, but it is also business-critical for us. Sadly, the fintech business is recognized as having a diversity and inclusion problem, with few women working in fintech companies and fewer female founders or women in high ranking managerial positions. At Bitpanda we are currently 240+ employees from over 44 nations, which is pretty unique, especially for an Austrian employer.
Almost 40% of Bitpanda employees are female and we know that there is definitely still a lot to do and a lot more to strive for. In fintech overall, we have a ways to go before we have complete diversity, but we are optimistic for the future and are very conscious of this. Overall, we think it’s important to change the perception of fintech as a male environment which will in turn help the whole sector to foster an environment where diversity is at the heart of every company.
What is the one piece of advice you wish you’d know when you started Bitpanda, that could help other founders?
In my opinion, a good business model remains essential to every successful organization – whether it’s a new venture or an established player. As simple as it is: a major reason why founders and companies fail is that they run into the problem of their being little or no market for the product that they have built.