FinTech Interview with Mantvydas Starieka, Chief Executive Officer at Capital Box

FTB News DeskOctober 3, 202322 min

Gain exclusive insights from Mantvydas Starieka, CEO at Capital Box, in this illuminating interview. Discover his vision for fintech innovation and leadership in small business financing.

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Mantvydas Starieka, Chief Executive Officer at Capital Box

Combining well-honed entrepreneurial instincts with proven legal acumen, Mantvydas Štareika is an international business and financial services expert with extensive experience in sales, marketing, international mergers, and growth and strategy drive. Prior to joining CapitalBox in December 2022, Mantvydas served as CEO and head of the supervisory board at SME Bank, the first neobank in Lithuania. While there he spearheaded financial licensing efforts across the Baltics and Finland, and the company now holds licenses to operate in ten European countries. He held multiple senior roles at Coface, eventually leading the Baltic States division as CEO. Mantvydas holds a master’s in business administration from the Stockholm School of Economics. He lives in Vilnius, Lithuania with his family.

Could you share your background and describe the path that led you to the position of CEO at Capital Box?
As I see it, my journey to CapitalBox has been a very logical progression. Naturally I come from a finance background, but more specifically I’ve spent much of my career focused on SME financing. I spent 14 years at Coface managing credit insurance within the Baltics prior to becoming CEO and head of the supervisory board of SME Bank. SME Bank was the first neobank in Lithuania, and we expanded its licenses across the Baltics and Finland, something I’m very proud of. CapitalBox’s emphasis on SME lending and pure fintech infrastructure overlaps perfectly with my experience and expertise. My joining as CEO reflects my desire to drive SME financing forward at this moment, and I think CapitalBox is extremely well-positioned to do exactly that. Together with Multitude group we are already are servicing 400,000 customers in 18 countries. The sky’s the limit here.

What are some of the key trends in the financial services industry that you are currently closely observing?
Personalization: Financial institutions are increasingly focusing on providing personalized services and experiences to their customers. This includes tailoring products and services to meet individual needs and preferences.
AI optimization: Artificial intelligence (AI) is being used to optimize various aspects of financial services, such as risk assessment, fraud detection, and customer service. AI-powered chatbots and virtual assistants are also becoming more common.
Open banking: Europe has been at the forefront of open banking, which allows customers to share their financial data with third-party providers. This trend is driving innovation and competition in the industry, as well as enabling the development of new services.
SME industry: There is a growing focus on serving the needs of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the financial services industry. This includes providing specialized products and services tailored to the unique requirements of SMEs, such as flexible financing options and digital banking solutions.
Digital transformation: The industry is undergoing a significant digital transformation, with traditional financial institutions investing in technology to enhance their digital capabilities. This includes the adoption of mobile banking, online payment systems, and digital wallets.

Can you provide insights into the scalability and customization capabilities of your CRM product to accommodate the diverse needs of finance companies?
In our CRM product everything is built on API connections. Currently in order to be scalable and available to work with different partners across the Europe, you have to have technical capabilities to connect to different systems but also accept connections from them. If the technical stack would be outdated or complicated for a change, it would be a complete stop for further development.

How has your leadership style contributed to the growth and success of Capital Box?
It is complicated to overview yourself but looking from different angle I would specify most important skills as:

  • visionary leadership: it is a must for me for the company’s future and be able to inspire and motivate the team towards achieving that vision. I am very focused to articulate a compelling strategy and direction for the company.
  • Adaptability and agility: In the fast-paced fintech industry, the ability to adapt to changing market conditions and quickly pivot strategies is essential.
  • Innovation and creativity: Fintech companies thrive on innovation and disruptive ideas. If I would not be supportive of innovations all the time it will be a stop for all the organization.
  • And last but not least for me is a relationship building with all the stakeholders. I always try to maintain excellent interpersonal skills and be able to establish and maintain relationships with key stakeholders, including investors, regulators, and industry experts.

In what ways does Capital Box differentiate itself from competitors in the financial services market?
For starters, we’re very different from traditional financial institutions because we prioritize SMEs – and we give them the capital they need to grow. If anything, we’re actively trying to close the underfunding gap those traditional institutions helped create. We’re different from other pure fintech lenders firstly because we have tailored products and services. Currently we calculate more than 5 active products for different types of our customers. Starting from installment loans and credit line and going to completely free of charge for the customer “buy now pay later” product.

In addition to this we have a well working Data-driven insights according to which our decisions are being made automatically to smaller amounts and delivered to our customer in no time. This allows us to deliver fast and professional services to much more micro and very small companies. Administration burden is one of key struggles for larger financials organizations to help SMEs. This is not a case for us due to implemented automatic solution systems.

To add to the list, we are still one of those remaining companies who provide Personalized customer support to our customers. All our customers can approach dedicated loan officers seeking to get any answer related to their credit facility. We look at this very responsively as this is our mission to help SMEs grow in all areas, including the general financial education.

Can you share any recent initiatives or strategies implemented by your company to enhance customer experience and satisfaction?
We’re in the process of making our AI and machine learning programs as sophisticated as possible, both those that are customer-facing, like chatbots, and those that work behind the scenes, evaluating applications.

To be more precise, by implementing new machine learning model we already decreased amount of information needed from our customer by 30%. Our goal while getting relevant financial information is to understand the possibility for SME to incorporate credit and to best use it for their daily needs. By the help of AI tools we can understand this much easier and with less struggle for our customer.

What role does technology play in the operations and growth of your company, and how do you leverage it to deliver value to customers?
We’re a pure fintech company, so technology is the absolute core of our business. Our application process is entirely digital, and customers manage individual services through digital tools on our online portal. We’ve incorporated sophisticated automation into the application evaluation process, which means we can approve loans in a matter of minutes, and distribute funds shortly after. This also clears the way for the real people on our customer service team to spend their time on meaningful and specific interactions. Technology not only makes CapitalBox run, and it makes every single one of our processes smarter and more efficient.

What are the biggest challenges or opportunities you foresee for the financial services industry in the near future, and how is your company prepared to address them?
There’s no downplaying the €400 billion underfunding gap that exists among SMEs in Europe. It’s an enormous challenge, of course, but a worthy one that we’re already working to address. SMEs are the backbone of the European economy, and the benefits of closing this gap and getting them the funding they need to grow will be well worth it.

It is crucial to understand that technology will continue and be even more important to all the industries in the future. The ones who will learn how to us it will succeed, but we still see a lot of Fintech companies working and taking their decisions manually. I think this is the beginning of the end for such companies. Lending and credits is already a commodity in the market, and customer is free to choose from variety of providers. Therefore customer in the future will be working only with those companies who will manage to offer their services seamlessly and without an effort for a customer. It will also be very important to create stickiness together with other financial services (like payments, collection, cash advances etc).

How do you ensure transparency and accountability within your organization?
Since CapitalBox also belong to large Multitud group, we share most of the values together. However for transparency and accountability within our organization most important are:

  • Clear communication: I am always trying to establish a culture of open and transparent communication within the organization. This includes clearly communicating the company’s goals, strategies, and expectations to all employees. Regular updates and town hall meetings helps to foster these.
  • Clearly defined roles and responsibilities: Each employee should have a clear understanding of their roles and responsibilities within the organization. Without this we would just be a bunch of people sitting in one room.
  • Performance measurement and evaluation: Implementing a robust performance measurement system is crucial for accountability.
  • Also important to mention transparent decision-making processes and ethical standards and compliance. Here we work with constant monitoring and trainings.

FTB News Desk

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