The head of the Ukrainian Association of Fintech and Innovation Companies said how the Coronakaris will affect the development of fintech and other industries in Ukraine
The epidemic of coronovirus in the world, the impending crisis, the quarantine measures present in most countries – all of this have already affected entire industries. The world keeps changing. How to adapt to a new reality? How to avoid a business?
In an interview with Pespace magazine Rostislav DukeThe head of the Ukrainian Association of Fintech and Innovation Companies (UAFIC) talked about the impact of coronovirus on Ukrainian fintech, what will happen to business, hryvnia and foreign investment during the crisis, as well as opportunities in the crisis Provide suggestions on how to turn it on.
Rostislav for starters, please tell us how your team works during quarantine. Are there any suggestions for organizing workflows that are universal for all companies?
We do not panic, but at the same time we assess the risks. We do not want to endanger employees, their relatives and relatives, so we quietly switched to a remote model of work. In 2020, it is not difficult and it took us only a few days to complete the operational restructuring. Now all our processes are streamlined, we use Slack as a team chat, Trello for task management and Zoom for video conferencing. For each other as well as all our members and partners, we are available online through all channels at any time.
Now there are lots of tips and recommendations on how to work at home. They are more and more similar, but I will highlight material From readdle. For many Ukrainians, work from home already saves an average of 2 hours a day. This time can be spent on training with benefits: Harvard, Stanford and other universities have already shared materials for distance learning. For example, I enjoyed watching Andrei Fedoriv’s YouTube course. Let us not forget that among other things, there are a lot of hidden opportunities.
Read: 8 tips from Google how to work productively from home
According to your forecast, how will the current situation – viruses and crises – affect the development of fintech in Ukraine?
What is Fintech? This is the economy of the future – automation, global solutions, the transition of all players to digital and online. And in current history, fintech solutions are becoming even more relevant: mobile banking, online payments, the transition of physical retail to e-commerce and more.
The level of financial literacy in Ukraine is quite low. Therefore, it is particularly important to tell the common people about all the opportunities that FinTech offers. That is what we are doing. Having tools at hand and understanding how they work, a person controls their finances. It is a matter of security and trust in the future – the first thing that concerns people today. And Fintech helps them in this.
The current crisis will further motivate people to use fintech solutions. In addition, classic financial institutions will pursue digital transformation even more rapidly. Therefore, for the entire industry, the current crisis is above development opportunities and prospects.
Given the global situation, how do startups do business during a crisis? And is it possible to develop at this time?
Someone from the field of venture financing has successfully noted – “Startups that know how to make money succeed in crisis.” And the fintech industry is no exception.
We are facing a uniquely difficult time when the global recession was due to the spread of the virus and the COVID-19 epidemic. This crisis is different from the previous one in that the freedom of movement of people is very limited not only between countries, but already between states and cities. This situation is a unique opportunity for the development and popularization of remote services. And fintech, again, is no exception. For example, today many Ukrainian banks are urgently reviewing their plans and operating models to provide more and more remote services and products in the near future. Is this the best time for digital transformation with the help of domestic and foreign fintech solutions! “
In this crisis, the strongest will not survive, but the most flexible and fastest.
By the way, which companies and industries will suffer the most?
Unfortunately, the crisis hit small and medium businesses very hard. The quarantine conditions presented by many countries (including Ukraine) have severely limited opportunities for doing business at the legislative level. And if the situation does not improve in the next month, a small business will not have to wait until the financial pillow is quarantined. Therefore, government actions supporting this segment are important here.
If we talk about industries – then all sectors related to tourism and travel, entertainment industry, restaurant business have suffered the most.
Many companies, given the current conditions, will change their expertise. Which areas are promising, in your opinion?
As I have already noted, the crisis will make business more agitated to switch to digital. The phrase – “If you are not on the Internet – you do not exist” – finds its full sound. Many companies will completely redefine their business model so that they can work remotely. Someone will stop at this model. For example, many call centers shifted their employees to work from home. Since they became successful – it is not a fact that they will return to expensive offices and be hired.
Even now, everything related to privatization of services is trending in the industry. Hyper-personalization is also underway due to big data and artificial intelligence. Everything related to automation, chatbots, robo-advisors. More innovations will be in mobile payments and retail. Streaming services, logistics, e-commerce and e-commerce industries will receive a new round of development.
What will happen to hryvnia and foreign investment during the crisis?
Given the crisis and the forced stagnation of some sectors of the economy, as well as the actions of the monetary policy of the National Bank which is caused by external pressure and a rapidly widening budget deficit, the hryvnia exchange rate will devaluate by the end of the year. How strong this devaluation will be depends on how quickly Ukraine can face crisis and epidemics and when the country can return to normal operation.
If we are talking about foreign investment in the fintech sector, then we can forget about it in the next 6-9 months. The only hope is local business angels, startups who are looking for alternatives for other projects or absorption of government grants. It is worth noting that the Ukrainian Startup Foundation did not stop its work and was able to adapt to the current realities by introducing digital formats in its work.
Which country can become the world center of fintech at the end of the crisis?
I do not think that at the end of the crisis, anything will change dramatically in this regard. Market leaders will remain the United States, Britain and China. Germany and Israel’s ecosystems are breathing in their backs (by the way, it is almost the only country that continues to attract investment in its startup ecosystem, despite the global crisis).
Before Crisis, Virus and Quarantine – How did you assess the development of the fintech industry in Ukraine?
I believe that Ukraine has all the necessary factors for the development of fintech companies and services. We have 25 million people on the Internet. More than 70% are regular users. The penetration rate is very high. In addition, Ukrainians voluntarily use traditional financial instruments: the population has more than 60 million payment cards in their hands, of which 62% are active. At the same time, according to the World Bank, 37% of Ukrainians do not have bank accounts at all. And this is where fintech companies can go.
If we talk about fintech, we have more than 130 companies in the market, half of which make global products. According to our estimates, the total value of Ukraine’s fintech market in 2019 was approximately $ 650 million. Three years ago, you could buy the entire market for $ 30 million.
Ukrainian companies make real products that attract the attention of investors. A start-up fund has been started, which grants $ 25 to $ 75 thousand to young teams in the early stages. The market has excellent prospects, and the crisis can also give a definite impetus to the growth of the industry.
I will make a small announcement. The association, as the hub and magnet of the fintech ecosystem, will soon introduce a new study and market listing. There are a lot of interesting things.
Which countries have you been compared to? What else needs to be done so as not to lose the level achieved and continue to develop this industry even in difficult economic conditions?
I believe that you do not need to compare yourself with anyone else, you need to compare yourself with tomorrow. The secret of success is to be at least 1% better than yesterday. This also applies to industries. Therefore, the main task of the fintech industry is not to lose the two-year steady pace of growth, to be able to profit and even leverage the situation for deeper penetration, financial sector electronic channels, retail markets and government Integration in services.
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