Raphael Golan, Board Director and Business Development Director at MoneyNetint, has a seasoned history in the world of finance and economics. We sat down with him to talk about his experiences, the lessons he’s learned in his 35+ years in the financial sector and his tips and recommendations for staying relevant as the industry shifts into the ever evolving digital era.
Growing up in Israel and economics
I was born in 1959 in Jerusalem to immigrant parents - my father is from England and my mother is from Germany. After secondary school I went to the army, where I served as a tank commander and then went on to study economics in the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. I graduated with a BA in Economics in 1982 and almost immediately started working at one of the biggest banks in Israel, Bank Hapoalim.
Economics was something I found interesting and was a natural fit for my abilities. I’m very glad to have had and continue a long career doing something that interests me, on both a large and small scale.
Thanks to my academic degree, I was offered a managerial position at the beginning of my career at Bank Hapoalim. I was promoted quickly within the bank, starting as a credit department manager, and then moving to deputy branch manager until eventually being promoted to branch manager. I stayed in that position for quite a long time, nearly two decades, and I especially enjoyed learning about people as well as finance there.
Life shaping moments
After 20 years in the bank, I reached a point where I was starting to feel like I had gone as far as I could within my position in the bank, but wasn’t sure what to do next. It was at this point that my brother-in-law introduced me to Nissan Trif, MoneyNetint’s Founder - a man who is always thinking one step ahead in terms business and services. His vision completely changed my perspective. After two meetings with him not only was the next phase in my career clear, but it excited me as well.
Corporate companies vs small businesses
There are advantages and disadvantages in both. Being a corporate employee is safe - you have your salary, benefits and job security. On the other hand, you can get bored with your daily work and regardless of how far you grow you are always reporting to someone else.
Working for a small, or even a medium sized company offers the chance to be creative and explore new business opportunities - there’s less red tape and more opportunity to take initiative and launch new projects.
In an entrepreneurial company there is less security, and more pressure but it is also much more rewarding when you can frequently see ideas come to life.
When I first joined MoneyNetint in 2002 I worked with Nissan for the local company in Israel. It was an established, small company with a handful of employees. In 2005 Nissan approached me with an idea to grow the company globally - which caught me by surprise. It was as if we were starting a brand new business. It was an exciting time full of endless potential and many responsibilities.
While we were confident that we would succeed, there were many unknowns. From two founders and one employee, we've since then grown into a company of 60 employees and are continuing to grow in different ways. I've never imagined fourteen years ago is possible, when we first established the global company.
Firstly, we are a family-owned and operated business. Nissan founded this company and his son, Yishay, is the CEO. The company has a family feel, caring about the success of both employees and clients, like family.
Another unique element is that we offer a full package of payment solutions, both pay-in and pay-out. We are truly a one-stop-shop service for businesses.
“The company has a family feel, caring about the success of both employees and clients like family.“
Aside from that I will be honest, we did not invent the wheel and there are a lot of companies in this field, but a lot of our competitors are also our partners in joint ventures. It’s an interesting market because it’s so large.There are so many corridors, countries, services and payment types within the industry that there is space for many players. If we are stronger in some niches, a “competitor” might approach us for one of our services and vice versa.
Influences and inspiration
When it comes to my personal life, my wife is my biggest influence and inspiration, obviously, but I won’t go into those details.
When it comes to work, especially when I’m thinking about new products, or strategic moves for the company, my team inspires me. Everyone from our CEO to the marketing and sales teams, excels at their job and their specialties provide a valuable perspective from which I can learn. I also take a lot of inspiration from our CEO, Yishay Trif and our head of business development, Avi Starodubsky, who I sit with constantly - they are very innovative and open minded.
My inspiration comes from both management and employees. Although I need to make the final decisions, I take a lot of cues from my outstanding colleagues.
The three biggest trends right now are digital, blockchain, and global commerce - the world is becoming smaller and smaller and everyone wants to be able to trade internationally.
Legacy banking is losing some of its power and control of the market and even the banks are starting to create alternative solutions for their clients like mobile and digital banking. Some are even creating subsidiaries to deal exclusively with digital payments because they understand this is the direction of the future.
I think we will see more and more companies (and eventually individuals) using digital transactions exclusively. This is where we are going and we need to create streamlined solutions.
For example, blockchain has revolutionised how we do transactions. It’s being embraced by many companies because it cuts out the middleman, which means your money is being spent on a service, not on bank fees. This is the technology that Ripple, who we have a collaboration with, is based on. In the future we’ll see more and more companies taking advantage of blockchain technology.
“The three biggest trends right now are digital, blockchain, and global commerce - the world is becoming smaller and everyone wants to be able to trade internationally.“
For us at MoneyNetint, currently 95% of our clients are corporate customers, yet in the future we plan to extend many of our services as well as new and innovative services to individuals as well. We’ve already launched our PayTicket platform which offers a solution for individuals to pay international traffic fines easily and online.
We work in a very harsh environment. One of our main concerns is staying up to date on the regulatory and KYC requirements. This is very important to us because the environment is constantly changing in our heavily regulated field. While we are always looking for new markets and avenues to serve our clients, we also need to protect our reputation. In the world of finance, you’re nothing without your reputation which is why we need to be very careful with every detail of the services we offer, especially when we're rolling out
a new one.