Fintechs to the rescue. How Romanian entrepreneurs can benefit from the growing presence of fintech players on the local market

Newsroom 13/03/2019 | 15:11

Romanian entrepreneurs can maximize the benefits resulting from ever-growing presence of fintech players on the local and global markets, because fintech services are taking a more ‘creative’ approach towards solving a particular problem, they are more cost-efficient, and offer the possibility of tailoring their offers to the specific requirements of a given entrepreneur, according to Polish group Aforti.

According to the 2017 Deloitte research, the size of the fintech market in the Central and East-ern Europe was estimated at the end of 2016 at approximately USD 2,2 billion while in Europe as a whole, it overpassed USD 26 billion.

The two capitals of fintech in Europe are without doubt London and Berlin, where the majority of start-ups in this domain either begin their journey or they decide to relocate at some point of their promising beginnings.

However, with the Brexit prospects nearing, London is slowly losing its fintech appeal and its EU successor will soon have to be identified.

CEE’s largest market, Poland, remains still rather unimpressive when it comes to the number of fintech having their operations in Warsaw or other major cities, unfortunately unsurprising given the fact that despite the thriving start-up ecosystem, Poland did not bore recently any unicorns.

Poland, similar to Romania, remains on the fintech map as a mere destination for operational centers and of course, the local operations offices.

“A good example for both Poland and Romania would be Lithuania, which following the Brexit, decided to seize the opportunities and become the next emerging capital of fintechs and managed to accomplish it to some extent by luring in global players by offering friendly regulations and fully-fledged assistance in English. It is in the end in Lithuania, not Germany, where Revolut received its banking license and Google Payment got its e-money license at the end of 2018 thus showing that the emerging, and small, economies can be at a forefront of technological change,” said Aleksandra Wodzisławska, Aforti Exchange CEO.

“Coming back to more local perspective, Romania is still far away from, let’s say, China, where estimates say that 69 percent of the digitally active people use fintechs. But the change is coming, and people are slowly adapting. Locally, we could have seen this shift the moment when Revolut entered Romania and took the local press, as well as millennials wallets, by the storm,” she added.

Since then, the company has also introduced Revolut for Business, but the feature has not been as popular as the original product targeting the retail client, primarily because lack of particular competitiveness of the offer.

“But the fintech sector has so much more to offer than just Revolut, especially for entrepreneurs, who in Romania, still prefer to purchase all the financial services from their bank, in order to have a one-stop-shop for anything “finance”,” Wodzisławska points out.

However, from the business point of view, this is not the best idea, according to the expert. Fintech services are taking a more ‘creative’ approach towards solving a particular problem and because of that, they are more cost-efficient, have improved speed of service and offer the unprecedent possibility of tailoring their offers to the specific requirements of a given entrepreneur.

If you run a business and want to remain competitive in today’s digital world, you really need to consider benefitting from the advantages of fintech.

Especially that today, the ser-vices of fintechs are used by all kinds of clients, regardless of their legal form or scale of operations.

Not only private individuals or small businesses use fintechs but also corporations, banks, even the police, governments or regulatory bodies – the latter maybe not yet in Romania, but it is only a question of time when even the least reform able will have to adapt to the global fintech trends.

While not all fintechs have the physical presence in Romania through established offices or headquarters, the beauty of the industry is that it is borderless. This means that the opportunities of diversifying the financial services providers are endless.

Aforti Exchange CEU recommends to local entrepreneurs several fintecs:

  1. For comfortable payment solution for online clients, the one and only PayPal – probably the world’s most famous online payment system. Alternatively, I also recommend the innovative local player, Netopia.
  2. For client onboarding, that is a fast and convenient way to check client’s identity (especially important in the financial services sector, but not only), my top picks are British Onfido or German IDnow.
  3. For managing company expenses and having clear and instant information and control over expenses – Curve, the London-based fintech that lets you combine all your bank cards into one.
  4. For international payments and fast money transfers abroad – Ripple and Transferwise.
  5. For online financial services such as payment solutions for online storefronts, direct payments, post purchase payments and more – Klarna, an actual bank from Sweden that proves that even being subjected to strict regulations, you can still be innovative.
  6. For intelligent cashflow management – British Fluidly, an AI-powered cashflow fore-casting application, considered one of the hottest fintechs to follow in 2019.
  7. And, last but not least, for competitive currency exchange rates and access to multiple, even rare, currencies in one spot, Aforti Exchange.

“Of course, depending on the specific industry of activity, some of the above-presented fintechs are more or less relevant. For example, our currency exchange services are especially relevant for the import-export businesses and companies either delivering or purchasing services abroad, while companies running e-commerce business should take advantage of payment providers such as Netopia or PayPal. At the same time, since the security of the users is nowadays a must, all companies should try services of fintechs such as Onfido,” Wodzisławska said.

The fintech market keeps evolving at a pace that we have never seen before, bringing novelties almost every day. Just earlier this week, we have seen the news that Mastercard and Swedish fintech Doconomy announced they want to fight the climate change by introducing smart mobile application that allows better understanding and tracking our CO2 footprints.

They also introduced, together with an app, climate-friendly, biodegradable payment card, thus proving that fintechs are more than just another service providers – they are the trend- and the agenda-setters, bringing attention to the key burning issues, regardless if we talk about environment, security or the top client service.

Headquartered in Warsaw, Poland, Aforti Exchange is part of Aforti Holding, financial group listed on the NewConnect market of the Warsaw Stock Exchange

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