Marco Santos of GFT On The Future of Money and Banking

An Interview With Jason Hartman

Jason Hartman
Authority Magazine
13 min readNov 24, 2022


Put the objectives of your organization ahead of your personal goals. This is much easier to do when you’re passionate about your work. One of the things that I enjoy most about working in the banking and finance industry is that, when we succeed, we often get to see the many ways that finance can positively impact everyday lives.

The way we bank has changed dramatically over the last decade. It was not too long ago when you had to wait in line in a bank to deposit money. Today things are totally different. You can do your banking without ever walking into a bank. In addition, the whole concept of money has changed. In the recent past, money usually meant bills and coins. But today, the concept of money has expanded to include digital currency and NFTs. What other innovations should we expect to see in banking in the short and medium term?

To address this, we are talking to leaders in the banking, finance, and fintech worlds, to discuss the future of banking and money over the next few years. As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Marco Santos.

Marco Santos is CEO of GFT United States and Latin America and a member of the GFT Group Executive Board in Germany. With more than 25 years of experience in the technology sector, Marco has established GFT as a leader transforming companies’ digital visions into tangible realities. Since 2011, he has led GFT’s exponential growth in Brazil, growing the office from 80 to 1800 professionals, and in Latin America, where he led expansion into Mexico and Costa Rica, creating 500 new job posts in the region.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started in this industry?

I started working for a company that implemented internet solutions for credit card companies and banks twenty years ago, and I’ve been on the front lines of introducing financial institutions to new technology solutions ever since.

I’ve always been passionate about finding symbiosis between financial services and Information Technology (IT), so it’s no surprise to me that this has carried me into my current role as CEO USA & LATAM at GFT. The biggest change has simply been that instead of the internet, I’m now introducing banks and financial institutions to modern solutions such as the cloud, artificial intelligence, machine learning and blockchain.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

In my home country Brazil, there is both an IT labor shortage and an unemployment crisis. One of the experiences I’m most proud of is launching Meu Futuro Digital, a nonprofit organization that aims to solve this issue by transforming Brazil’s technological expertise. Alongside a group of other CEOs, CIOs, CFOs, educators and government officials, we’ve created an ecosystem that connects Brazilians to IT employment opportunities through training programs, mentoring, financial support and placement with our partner companies.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

I strongly believe that an exponential mindset is the key to success. This is a mantra that I instill in all of my teams, as it goes hand-in-hand with a lesson I learned early on in my career: The biggest constraints we face in life are in our own minds.

Once we break out of a mindset that isn’t serving us and begin thinking exponentially, anything is possible. We’re empowered to accelerate growth, navigate crises, and do more with less.

Ok wonderful. Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview. Can you tell our readers about the most interesting projects you are working on now?

There are two that come to mind. The first is a project we are working on to implement an entirely new, modern infrastructure for one of the largest banks in the U.S. We often find that traditional banks are still operating on the same architecture that they’ve had for decades, which limits them from delivering the same customer experience, services and new product offerings that consumers are getting from digital-first providers. To many banks, the idea of not only keeping up with these competitors, but outpacing them in the market, has seemed unrealistic and intangible. Projects like this are proof that their mindset is changing.

There’s a similar challenge in the private equity industry. Firms have been using the same processes, systems and spreadsheets for decades to manage complex portfolio management processes, and the market is outpacing them. We’re working with one of the world’s leading private equity companies to move parts of its business to the cloud, which is highly appealing in terms of speed, productivity and product delivery, but can be a daunting undertaking. It’s encouraging to see industry leaders calling in the reinforcements they need to take this leap.

How do you think this might change the world?

In terms of immediate outcomes, the financial institutions we work with are seeing numerous benefits from moving to the cloud, including the ability to grow their roster of new customers, strengthen relationships with existing ones, and deliver new products to customers.

The broader implications are two-fold. On the finance side, we’ll see competition give way to increased collaboration in the financial industry as digitization enables traditional banks and financial companies to form partnerships with their digital counterparts. Through this, both parties will be able to own the aspects of the financial value chain that they’re good at, and expedite their rate of delivering new financial services to consumers.

Consumers, on the other hand, will benefit from a wider selection of user-friendly, digital finance products. We’re already seeing new tools for improving financial literacy, providing greater access to credit, and low or no fee checking and savings accounts. This will only improve as banks and fintechs come to rely on each other to fill in the gaps that the other is missing.

What most excites you about the banking or payments industry as it is today? Can you explain what you mean?

When banks and other financial companies finally make the decision to reimagine their legacy technology and build for the future, they’re usually doing it in response to pain from the missed opportunities I mentioned above — lost revenue, customers and business opportunities.

Possibly the best part of my job is the moment when they realize that digitization is not just stopping the bleeding; it’s opening them up to entirely new business models and revenue streams.

What most concerns you about the banking or payments industry as it is today? What would you suggest needs to be done to address that?

Banks tend to be more risk averse than other sectors when it comes to adopting new technology, considering they’re handling mission-critical financial and personal data. In GFT’s research around banks’ sentiments towards cloud technology, 43% admitted that security concerns have impeded full cloud migration. Another concern that arose is the ‘digital skills gap,’ or a lack of cloud-savvy employees, which banks say is slowing down their cloud adoption.

Addressing banks’ hesitations about the cloud, and digitization as a whole, begins with offering them a new perspective about transformation. In my experience, as soon as they shift their mindset around digitization and realize that it enables them to lead in an industry that seems to be moving forward without them, they don’t look back.

How would you articulate how the concept of money has changed in recent times? Is it really a change? Can you explain what you mean?

Money is more accessible than ever before. Digitization in the finance sector has been a large driver of this shift, as it’s enabled financial institutions to provide funds at the push of a button. It’s also empowering finance companies to develop new products and services for consumers to manage their money and change the ways that they spend and save, which is leading to an overall improvement in their quality of life. I expect this trend to continue and am optimistic that traditional companies will continue leveraging their increased access to capital to innovate and improve the way consumers access it, too.

Based on your vantage point as an insider in the finance industry, what innovations should we expect to see in banking in the short and medium term?

Cloud migration is often one of the largest obstacles keeping traditional banks from full transformation. However, now that the challenges and risks of cloud adoption are less of an unknown, more banks are building it into their business strategies.

For many, this will begin by moving a specific product or arm of their business to the cloud through a progressive approach that allows them to test the waters without touching their existing architecture. However, as financial institutions become more confident in their digital capabilities, we’ll see entire banks and financial companies being built in the cloud.

The emergence of open banking is also creating an opportunity for banks to link disparate data and use it to create more personalized experiences for their customers. For instance, by analyzing a customer’s everyday spending habits over time, a bank can create a personal finance management tool that consolidates all of that customer’s accounts across any provider, and provides intuitive recommendations for spending and saving.

How has the pandemic changed the way banks interact and engage with their customers?

Banks that once relied on physical, face-to-face interactions with their customers are now communicating almost entirely via digital channels, whether that’s an app, website or even social media. This created an enormous opportunity for new, digital challengers to enter the market and capitalize on consumers’ demand for immediate financial services without the confines of a brick-and-mortar building.

While traditional banks and financial institutions took longer to adjust to the digital shift, they’re now realizing that their newfound digital interactions provide a much greater opportunity to increase customer retention and loyalty. Banks have been and continue to be in a unique position to provide secure, compliant banking and financing services to consumers, which are often for significant life moments such as attending college, buying a house or saving for retirement. By doing so virtually, consumers have no need to shop around with digital-first providers, and traditional banks hold onto their customers for life.

In your particular experience, how has the pandemic changed the way you interact with, and engage your customers?

The obvious answer is that all of our interactions have become more digital. The implications of that digitization are far more valuable, though, as it’s enabled us to create, manage and nurture client relationships on a deeper level.

We used to have to wait for onsite, in-person meetings to onboard our clients, or walk through updates to their projects. Now, with digital communication, we can check in with them faster and more frequently. We’re also able to distribute our services digitally and not just physically, which allows us to reach a wider audience and address problems and opportunities that we didn’t have access to before, when we were limited to in-person interactions.

I’m very interested in the importance of user experience. How much of your interactions have moved to digital such as chatbots, encrypted messaging apps, phone, or video calls? How has this shift impacted the user and customer experience? What challenges do these apps present when used as a customer engagement tool?

A majority of our internal communications are now handled digitally as well — especially compared to when GFT was founded 35 years ago. We now have more than 10,000 employees around the globe, so messaging apps, video calls and emails are an essential part of how we keep in touch with each other.

In terms of the challenges, while we are undoubtedly benefiting from the speed and convenience of digital interactions with our customers, I still believe in the value of face-to-face interactions. Many of our projects begin as early as the ideation phase, so it’s important that we start building trust with our customers immediately to lay the foundation for lasting, mutually beneficial relationships. That can’t always be replicated from behind a screen, so we often see a balance of in-person and digital interactions with our customers and partners.

Fantastic. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 Things You Need To Create A Highly Successful Career In The Modern Finance, Banking and Fintech industries? (Please share a story or example for each.)

  1. Put the objectives of your organization ahead of your personal goals. This is much easier to do when you’re passionate about your work. One of the things that I enjoy most about working in the banking and finance industry is that, when we succeed, we often get to see the many ways that finance can positively impact everyday lives. For instance, in building a new digital bank from the ground up, we’re not just enabling that company to reach new customers. We’re bringing those customers access to financial capabilities that they’ve never had before, and making it faster and easier than ever for them to manage their money.
  2. Never stop embracing the new. Change is a constant in today’s banking and financial industry, and success is determined by how well you are able to embrace it. Everyone, whether an executive or a trainee, needs to be open to new technologies, business models — or anything that is unfamiliar to them — and turn those challenges into opportunities.
  3. Be willing to learn (and relearn) everything from scratch. Once we become an expert in a certain skill or topic, we are predisposed to continue on in our life and careers without ever changing the way we approach that topic. In banking and finance, that could be security, regulations, compliance, wealth management or loan origination. Regardless of what it is, the industry is changing at a rate that will inevitably outpace the information we learned years ago. It’s no longer about how much you know, but how much you’re willing to learn again and again.
  4. Have an exponential mindset. Going back to the ‘life lesson’ I shared earlier, I think this is especially relevant to anyone in the banking and finance industry. Right now, banks’ mindset around transformation is fear-based: If they don’t become like their digital challengers, they’ll fail. So, instead of putting their efforts behind how they can better themselves, they’re scrambling to replicate what their competitors are doing and remain relevant. The same can be said for individuals: Mindset is your number one limitation if you let it be.
  5. Accept that AI and machine learning will eventually drive everything. What we’re seeing now in terms of the applications of AI and machine learning is only the tip of the iceberg. Banks and financial institutions are already using these tools to power individual components of their business, but in the near future, entire companies will be built using their capabilities. Those who accept this sooner rather than later will have a leg up on the competition.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)

In every project, there’s an opportunity to find the sweet spot between what will make the most profound impact on business, while also moving society forward. I’d like to see every industry look for ways to find this opportunity. Whether it’s by creating sustainable business practices, building a more inclusive IT community, or opening the door to leadership opportunities for minority groups, I believe that we should continue seeking new ways to align our business goals with societal success.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

On GFT’s website at and on LinkedIn at

Thank you so much for the time you spent doing this interview. This was very inspirational, and we wish you continued success.

About The Interviewer: Jason Hartman is the Founder and CEO of Empowered Investor. Jason has been involved in several thousand real estate transactions and has owned income properties in 11 states and 17 cities. Empowered Investor helps people achieve The American Dream of financial freedom by purchasing income property in prudent markets nationwide. Jason’s Complete Solution for Real Estate Investors™ is a comprehensive system providing real estate investors with education, research, resources and technology to deal with all areas of their income property investment needs. Through Jason’s podcasts, educational events, referrals, mentoring and software to track your investments, investors can easily locate, finance and purchase properties in these exceptional markets with confidence and peace of mind.

Starting with very little, Jason, while still in college at the age of 19, embarked on a career in real estate. While brokering properties for clients, he was investing in his own portfolio along the way. Through creativity, persistence and hard work, he earned a number of prestigious industry awards and became a young multi-millionaire. Jason purchased a California real estate brokerage firm that was later acquired by Coldwell Banker. He combined his dedication and business talents to become a successful entrepreneur, public speaker, author, and media personality. Over the years he developed his Complete Solution for Real Estate Investors™ where his innovative firm educates and assists investors in acquiring prudent investments nationwide for their portfolio. Jason’s sought after educational events, speaking engagements, and his popular “Creating Wealth Podcast” inspire and empower hundreds of thousands of people in 189 countries worldwide.

While running his successful real estate and media businesses, Jason also believes that giving back to the community plays an important role in building strong personal relationships. He established The Jason Hartman Foundation in 2005 to provide financial literacy education to young adults providing the all-important real world skills not taught in school which are the key to the financial stability and success of future generations. We’re in a global monetary crisis caused by decades of misguided policies and the cycle of financial dependence has to be broken, literacy and self-reliance are a good start. Visit for free materials and resources.