Fact Check! The Ridiculous Black Banx Claim Of Being A $50-Billion FinTech Giant!

Michael Gastauer continues his fantastic Black Banx story
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Self-proclaimed German FinTech billionaire Michael Gastauer has long suffered from an addiction to portraying himself as big and powerful. Over the past decades, he has built a payment scheme with a network of companies and brands through which funds from illegal transactions were also laundered. He is active with Black Banx, which reportedly has over 20 million customers and would be worth $50 billion. There is virtually nothing that can be verified.

The Black Banx Background

Until a few years ago, Black Banx operated under the trading name WB21. The WB21 payment scheme processed funds for the fraudulent crypto scheme OneCoin, among others. Likewise, WB21 was active as a payment processor for the collapsed Canadian crypto exchange QuadrigaCX. Its founder Gerry Cotton mysteriously died in India, and nearly $190 million in customer assets disappeared with him (read the report of Amy Castor here).

In March 2022, the U.S. SEC obtained a Final Order against Michael Gastauer in March 2022. He was ordered to pay a $17 million fine for aiding and abetting the $165 million securities manipulation scheme of Briton Roger Knox through his WB21 group. Knox pleaded guilty in 2020. His sentencing is set for July 2023.

Read our stories on Michael Gastauer here.

The Public Statements

In December 2022, Black Banx announced it would have 20M clients, with one million new accounts opening monthly. These are super-impressive numbers! That would bring Black Banx close to FinTech unicorn Revolut, which is said to have had around 25 million customers by the end of 2022.

Maybe we are not seeing something here. Or maybe Similarweb has made a mistake here. The latest Similarweb statistics (Dec 2022) say that between September to November 2022, only around 100,000 customers visited the website.

Assuming that not every visitor to the Black Banx website immediately opens an account, we expect several million visitors per month, resulting in one million opened accounts. In addition, there should be website visits of the already existing customers. So Black Banx would expect at least 5 – 10 million website visitors monthly. In fact, however, there were just over 100,000 (read correctly). How do these numbers fit together?

Let’s do the reality check!

Similarweb statistics for Revolut
Similarweb statistics for Revolut (Feb to April 2023)

The Fact Check!

With 20 million accounts, Black Banx would be just behind Revolut, one of the world’s leading FinTechs, with around 25 million customers as of November 2022. The Similarweb statistics recorded more than 27 million website visitors for Revolut between Feb and April 2023.

The leading German FinTEch N26 reported around 8 million customers. Similarweb says around 9 million people were on the N26 website between February and April 2023. That fits too!

Similarweb statistics for Black Banx between Feb and April 2023

On the other hand, if you look at the Similarweb statistics for Black Banx, you can see that the already extremely low website traffic dropped to below 5,000 monthly visitors in the period from Feb to April 2023. As a matter of statistical fact, the website is de facto barely visited. How are customers supposed to make their online transactions, then? Maybe there is a secret second domain? We don’t believe it.

In an article published in March 2023 by the renowned online financial magazine Sifted, Revolut’s valuation was listed at $33 billion, making it by far the most valuable FinTech in Europe, followed by N26, Qonto, Monzo, and Starling Bank.

So at a $50 million valuation, Michael Gastauer‘s Black Banx would be worth as much as Revolut, N26, Qonto, and Monzo combined. Do we need any more fact-checks to prove how ridiculous the claimed $50 valuation of Black Banx is?

For the sake of good order, it should be noted that Gastauer did not mention the $50 billion himself in this interview. However, he did not contradict Business Talk Magazine’s claim that Black Banx is worth $50 billion. He actually said that such a valuation would not be “completely unrealistic.” The interview was published around September 2022. This is how fake news is baked:

First off, I would like to point out that I would never say Black Banx is worth $50 billion. It could be worth more or less. The $50 billion valuation is a number you came up with. Of course, I would also not deny the fact that such a valuation is not completely unrealistic.

Michael Gastauer in interview (link)

Gastauer lets himself be portrayed as a FinTech guru via friendly sponsored articles in magazines like Forbes or Business Talk. Gastauer’s Instagram account is a collection of such image articles. Beyond that, hardly any news about Black Banx communicates facts.

Reality check done! Any further questions?

Share Information

If you have any information about Michael Gastauer and his Black Banx, please share it through our whistleblower system, Whistle42.

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