5 minutes with CEO of Rapyd, Arik Shtilman
The co-founder of the payment platform Rapyd didn’t realize what he was getting into when he first set foot in fintech – but a little can-do attitude got him through.
Here we catch up with him to discuss his journey so far and what he sees as the biggest challenge facing fintech.
Describe your role and your background. How did you get to this point?
Before Rapyd I was not involved in payments or fintech, I was a cloud expert and entrepreneur. After three years in the military, I decided I wanted to skip university and start my own company. Myself and three other co-founders started the business and built it into a multi-million dollar organization. The company operated for 10 years, and we sold it in 2013.
After that I wanted a new challenge. The same group of co-founders moved on to the next venture. It was 2015 and one had returned from a trip to the Czech Republic, shocked by the foreign exchange fees he had paid while away. We initially had an idea for a consumer wallet that would phase out physical exchanges, but we completely underestimated how complex the financial sector is. We spent almost a year trying to launch in the UK and the amount of investment and infrastructure we had to build was so large for one market that it simply didn’t make sense for us to continue as going global would be too complicated with all the different regulations.
We discovered a gaping hole slowing down the global commerce industry: There was no platform that enabled businesses to accept and send payments without having to build their own infrastructure.
That’s when we had the idea for Rapyd – to build a scalable fintech to provide financial services and infrastructure that other businesses can build on top of. Now we are building the world’s most expansive global fintech platform.
Who was your childhood hero and why?
Michael Jordan. He had a fearless mentality, an endless drive to win and always worked hard to be the best. And he always took charge in the last seconds of the game to try to win.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
I joined the military when I was 18 years old. Our instructors always drummed into us that there is no such thing as “I can’t”. That mindset stuck with me; I bring the idea that lives in my head to life and maintain a growth mindset.
What makes you proud of the business you’ve built?
We continue to go from strength to strength, despite the current economic conditions. I am proud of this. While many other fintech organizations had to retreat and slow their growth in the last year, Rapyd continued to expand globally. In the last year, we opened a technology hub in Dubai and were the first Israeli organization regulated by the UAE to open up for business in the country. We also completed our acquisitions of Neat in Hong Kong and Valitor in Iceland – and we only continue to grow and expand our global business.
What device could you not live without?
Apple AirTag. It completely changed my life. My kids don’t lose their stuff anymore.
What’s a fintech you use yourself on a regular basis – apart from Rapyd, of course?
I mainly use Paypal and Wise.
What is the biggest challenge you have faced in fintech?
In the early days, while building Rapyd, we learned that dealing with compliance and regulation was a bigger hurdle than we expected. Compliance differs from country to country, so working on a global scale made this incredibly challenging. That said, it also made us realize that we needed to be the compliance and regulatory problem solvers so other organizations didn’t have to worry about it. We handle all of this today. Our initial learning taught us that organizations looking to operate across borders needed a platform like Rapyd – one that gave them the necessary infrastructure to scale globally and would take the stress out of these types of issues.
Describe yourself in three words.
Confident, eloquent and ambitious.
What advice would you give yourself in 5 years?
Work hard, play harder.
Is there a personal achievement from the past 12 months that you are particularly proud of?
Opening up our technology center in Dubai was an incredible achievement for our entire team because we were the first Israeli organization to be regulated in the United Arab Emirates. This was no small feat. We launched in Dubai, covering every billboard on Sheikh Zayed Road – and now everyone in the city knows our name. We are incredibly proud to build the future of fintech in Dubai and to open doors for other organizations, from Israel and beyond, to put down roots in one of the most influential tech regions in the world.
What was the last book you read and when?
The History of Israeli Politics by Amit Segal. I read it a month ago.