Stepping up to the stage to collect the Global Banker award in May 201, Michael Gastauer8 smiled broadly.
“Look at this beautiful award. Amazing,” said the German businessman in his tuxedo and bow tie. Adoring staff from the fintech start-up WB21 rose to their feet to applaud their leader, who had thrown a no-expense-spared bash to celebrate his claim to have won five million customers and a purported $10 billion valuation — barely credible for a firm founded less than three years earlier.
WB21, based in London’s Canary Wharf financial district, said the award for “best innovation in retail banking” was given to “exceptional financial institutions for revolutionary achievements in the industry”.
The problem was, the award was not real — it was created by