There are 170 companies operating in the Fintech sector in Poland, 60 of which have benefited from the government's "Innovation Hub" development program.
“Out of the 170 fintechs in Poland 51 per cent specialize in payments. Our research showed that 60 per cent of fintech market are companies younger than five years old, most of which are still at the stage of initial development and do not generate revenues,” said Piotr Brewiński, founder of the Fintech Polska foundation. “This is a very preliminary phase of market development, where mainly small companies operate, employing up to 25 people. In Polish fintech firms, we also have a lot to catch up when it comes to parity. Only 30 per cent of their employees are women,” Mr. Brewiński added.
Ewa Wernerowicz, the president of the board of VIVUS Finance Polska, said that out of 250 people employed in her company, 60 per cent are women. “Fintech is developing in two main areas: the loan sector and payment franchises, in which the most important role is played by online currency exchange offices,” said Ms. Wernerowicz.
She noted that the biggest problem of the entire fintech sector is low financial efficiency, as exemplified by the net profit of the entire loan franchise, which reached EUR38m last year. “Polish companies still do not know how to borrow online, and most of all they face security problems. Risk assessment is a key issue in this business,” the president of the board of VIVUS said.
On the subject of the fintech’s cryptocurrencies, Paweł Sobkow, president of Paint Holdings, a creator of BitBay, said, “Without a doubt, the blockchain technology will revolutionize transactions and the entire cryptocurrency market. The most important are regulatory issues, which will allow the development of companies dealing with cryptocurrencies and establish clear rules of the game. So far, these rules are unknown.”
Artur Granicki, director of fintech’s financial innovation department at the Polish Financial Supervision Authority (KNF) said that the development of innovation in financial services is a key issue. “Payment services remain the blood stream of the entire economy. We know that banking is at a very high level in Poland, but at the same time we realize that it must develop dynamically all the time,” Mr. Granicki said.
He explained the need for stronger legal awareness of fintech companies and clearer regulations and for this reason the government opened the Innovation Hub program this year, under which free legal and administrative consultations are offered to such companies (read more about Polish regulations for fintechs). Some 60 entities have benefited so far. “We are able to support fintech companies in obtaining licenses and creating for each of them a written analysis of development and legal position to facilitate rapid development,” he said.
“I see an opportunity to cooperate here,” said Tomasz Górski from Idea Bank. “Technology in banking is our export product. Polish banks are an inspiration for the western ones, they are modern. In Western Europe, the loan application has 120 pages. In Poland, the client has everything offered by banks, so fintechs have nothing to look for here,” he said. –
Pekao S.A. and Microsoft
Meanwhile, a state-owned bank Pekao S.A. unveiled an agreement with Microsoft. “We attach great importance to strategic partnerships. We are in talks with about 100 [potential] strategic partners. As one of the first, we want to sign a memorandum of understanding with Microsoft,” Michał Krupiński, CEO of Pekao S.A., said. The parties to the agreement explained that they will focus on educating bank’s clients (e.g. from the SME sector) in the area of digital solutions.
According to the bank, Polish companies “have a lot to catch up to,” e.g. in the areas of using e-invoices or electronic document flows. “We have identified around 20 initiatives, we are focused on testing solutions that will give the most benefits to customers. We want to go ahead with pioneer solutions,” added Marek Tomczuk, the deputy CEO of the bank.