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Answer Pay and Partner HUB join forces to improve cash flow in Europe’s €1.2Bn e-invoicing market

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Source: Partner HUB

As the cost of living crisis increasingly bites many businesses are struggling to collect payments from their customers. Subscription numbers are declining and consumers are canceling direct debits in favor of alternative payment methods that give them more control. However, these alternatives such as cash, cards, and cheques can cost more and introduce friction with conversion typically much lower.

Instead, banks and payment service providers are offering their customers a new service, “Request to Pay”. Available from Answer Pay across the Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA) and the UK, it makes it easier for businesses to collect more efficiently regular payments from their customers avoiding issues such as direct debit failures due to insufficient funds.

The key to the uptake of this service is easy integration. Partner HUB takes invoice data from ERP systems and reformats this for invoice presentation and automatically generates payment requests over the Request to Pay networks offered by Answer Pay. This abstracts any complexity in building API integrations reducing the dependency on overstretched development teams.

Source: LinkedIn

Katalin Kauzli, Co-founder, of Partner HUB, comments: “Request to Pay will be a game changer for payments, but it must be easy for banks to adopt the service. With our e-invoice solution, the two largest banks in Hungary were able to quickly and securely get up and running. We’re looking forward to working with Answer Pay to help banks in the rest of Europe take full advantage of this powerful combination of e-invoicing and Request to Pay”.

E-invoicing is a hot topic for many European businesses as many nations look to make them mandatory. Italy, France, and Poland have already obtained authorization from the European Commission to introduce a mandate with Belgium, Latvia, Romania, Spain, Slovenia, and Slovakia all commencing the process. Compliance is therefore likely to be another key driver in Request to Pay adoption.

Source: LinkedIn

“The pandemic created a lasting change in our willingness to engage in remote payments. The cost of living crisis will create a change in how we manage our bill payments. Add to this the drive around Europe for e-invoicing and you can see why we’re so excited to work with Partner HUB to bring to the market this exciting innovation,” – added Peter Cornforth, Commercial Director at Answer Pay.

 

About Answer Pay: Answer Pay secures bill payments in banking apps. Its certified “Payments as a Service” platform connects banks to Request to Pay, the new messaging standard for experience-rich payments. Complementing existing payment infrastructure, it gives payees the ability to request a payment and send an invoice using their corporate bank interface. Payers can then aggregate and control when and how each request is paid using their retail bank app.

Placing financial institutions at the center of the bill payment experience ensures end-to-end bank-grade security. However, it isn’t always easy for banks to bring differentiated services to market. Its API-based access removes the technology challenges so banks can maximize their revenue opportunity. For more information, please visit www.answerpay.uk.

About Partner HUB: The Partner HUB’s EIPP platform has been at the forefront of e-invoicing automation and real-time payment integration with bank B2B/B2C eco-systems for a couple of years, as the Hungarian market has introduced Request to Pay and ACH real-time payments before SEPA. Having real-time payments coupled with the e-invoicing regulation making invoice data accessible, we could demonstrate the combined value of e-invoicing and request-to-pay for business customers.  For more information, please visit www.charlieindia.org.

Contact for communication and demo:

Source: The press release by Partner HUB

Open Banking – a used or missed opportunity for the development of financial products?

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Source: CRIF Poland

On September 23, SME Banking Club, together with CRIF Poland, held a webinar on Open Banking – a used or missed opportunity for the development of financial products.

At the beginning of the webinar Olena Gryniuk (SME Banking Club) noted that from September 2019 due to the PSD2 regulation, the banks are obliged to publish opening APIs to TPPs. The main advantage that Open Banking provides – data sharing – should have become an innovation trigger. Is this the case?

Olena Gryniuk mentioned that for the business customers account aggregation was implemented by less than 10% of the banks in the CEE region. In turn, 25% of the banks in the CEE region offer open APIs to their customers.

Kamil Gosławski continued the webinar by sharing CRIF Poland’s experience in Open Banking. Kamil noted three types of Open Banking services CRIF Poland has licenses for AIS (Account Information Service), PIS (Payment Initiation Service), and CAF (Confirmation of the Availability of Funds), which provided a range of possibilities for using Open Banking.

The customer/end user can use open banking capabilities via the banking web portal or mobile application to:

  • get an insight into a balance and history of transactions,
  • make transfers.

The financial institutions/banks use Open Banking to confirm customer’s:

  • creditworthiness,
  • identity.

Of course, customers should give their consent on that.

After that Kamil Gosławski showed a list of leading banks in the area of Open Banking in Poland and use cases of open banking usage.

Implementation of the PSD2 directive – Open Banking in banks and other financial institutions will take place in 4 stages that may interpenetrate:

1. Focusing on API implementation and compliance issues.

2. Searching the ways to “monetize” the possibilities offered by Open Banking, including offering premium services.

3. Taking an active role as an AISP/PISP player by creating new products and services based on both their products and those offered by third parties to provide personalized services to customers.

4. A new business model – bank-as-a-service based on data analytics.

In the next part of the webinar, Anna Kowalik gave an example of Azimut Marketplace – a fully-fledged digital marketplace for SMEs – which they launched with their customer in the Italian and Spanish markets.

As of now 95% of requests/calls to Open APIs comes from individual customers and only 5% – from business customers. In the following Q&A session, Olena discussed with Kamil and Anna what should be done to extend Open Banking services for business customers, and what are the challenges and opportunities.

 

Watch the webinar recording to learn more:

UBB presents an innovative Agro Carbon Emissions Calculator

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Source: United Bulgarian Bank (UBB)

United Bulgarian Bank (UBB) has developed a digital tool for sustainability in the Agriculture sector UBB Agro Carbon Emissions Calculator, which is available directly and completely free of charge on the Bank’s website. The innovative service allows all farmers, customers, and non-customers of the financial institution, in a few easy steps to calculate the carbon footprint of their holdings the greenhouse gases of their activity, in carbon dioxide equivalent.

Based on the baseline indicators, completely online, the UBB Agro Carbon Emissions Calculator calculates the emission footprint of agricultural activities and generates an individual report. It indicates the areas of production that should be addressed and provides specific recommendations in which activities each farm will be able to improve its environmental impact.

Created as part of the UBB Sustainable Financing Program, the Calculator’s methodology was developed with the assistance and expertise of the Institute for Agrarian Economics. The overall solution is the Bank’s know-how to help all representatives of the agricultural sector. The scope of the digital tool covers 28 of the most frequently practiced agricultural activities in Bulgaria, with the focus being on the indicators of those that form the main part of the sector’s greenhouse emissions methane (CH4), dinitrogen dioxide (N2O) and carbon dioxide (CO2).

The calculations for crop production are based on the amounts of fertilizers, chemicals, and fuels used on a given farm for one year and the average yields obtained. Animal husbandry takes into account the practices of raising and feeding animals, as well as the storage of manure. In parallel with the calculation of the result, the values ​​are automatically compared with average indicators for Bulgaria, giving an estimate of the carbon footprint for each farm, covering all its activities with the possibility of receiving a report on the result of the assessment.

The topic of climate change, the consequences of Global Warming, and the frequent natural disasters increasingly require putting sustainable development at the center of public attention. The quick adaptation of business and specifically of the agricultural sector to the transformation, as a result of environmental changes and in response to policies in this direction, will be of crucial importance for the country, economic development, and competitiveness in the coming years.

Source: LinkedIn

“Our commitments to sustainable development, combined with UBB’s desire to meet the needs of its customers and be their partner in addressing the regulatory challenges on the subject, provoked the creation of an innovative product for the agricultural sector. UBB Agro Carbon Emissions Calculator is a working solution for farmers, which enables them to assess the impact on the environment and subsequently plan measures for the transition to sustainable agriculture. UBB will consistently provide expertise and assist companies in the sector with financing investments for their transformation in terms of sustainability and carbon footprint reduction,” commented Desislava Simeonova, Executive Director of Small and Medium Enterprises at UBB and leader of the “Sustainable financing” program of KBC Group in Bulgaria.

To help farmers, UBB will continue to upgrade the project by developing a Partnership Program with companies to expertly support farms in the transition process with guidance and advice for precise and efficient farming.

 

Source: the Bank`s press release dated September 13, 2022

PKO Bank Polski supports green technologies via Poland ClimAccelerator

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Source: PKO Bank Polski

The global EIT Climate-KIC network dedicated to supporting the development of climate startups is opening up to the Polish market. Recruitment for the first edition of the program is starting, aimed at business acceleration of the most promising, pro-environmental technologies in the areas of sustainable development. The program operator is the Accelpoint technology accelerator, and PKO Bank Polski has assumed the role of the leading partner.

Source: LinkedIn

“We treat the necessity to implement solutions conducive to the improvement of the natural environment not only as a generational obligation but also as a great opportunity to optimize business costs. This applies to both the bank itself and our customers, who, like us, are looking for access to pro-environmental technologies. Actions in this area are of particular importance at a time when the energy crisis has revealed the vulnerability of economies to the turmoil in the energy resources market. That is why PKO Bank Polski joined forces with the global EIT Climate-KIC network and Accelpoint and assumed the role of a leading partner in the first edition of the acceleration program for startups “Poland ClimAccelerator”. We hope that thanks to this cooperation we will be able to better use our potential to implement and scale innovations in the field of green technologies and, together with startups, to develop tools to solve timeless challenges,”  said Marcin Eckert, Vice President of the Management Board of PKO Bank Polski, Supervising the Corporate and Investment Banking Area.

What solutions is the Bank looking for?

PKO Bank Polski is particularly interested in solutions in the areas of green financial products and scoring. The Bank is also looking for technologies that enable or improve the measurement of clean energy supplies and optimize the management of the transport fleet. Bearing in mind the internal needs of the bank and customers, it is interested in cooperating with startups offering services in all areas of monitoring and compliance supporting the achievement of a positive climate impact.

The program is open to technologies from various sectors, such as clean energy, broadly understood as increasing energy efficiency, green transport, clean industry, water management and purification, green finance, and improvements in agriculture or decarbonization. The full list of areas and the application form are available on the Poland ClimAccelerator program website: www.greentech.ac.

Source: LinkedIn

“We encourage all pro-ecological startups interested in developing their technologies in close cooperation with corporate partners and acquiring new customers and investors to cooperate with us. We are extremely pleased with the acquisition of partners such as PKO Bank Polski, thanks to which technologies operating in the Polish and Central European markets have a chance to attract informed business customers,” emphasizes Maciej Majewski, President of Accelpoint.

The development opportunities for green technology startups

Thanks to participation in the 5-month acceleration program, selected startups will gain access to an international investor network and a community of industry experts and mentors. In addition, the best of them will have a chance to finance technological tests in cooperation with corporate partners (PoC), and thus the possibility of implementing their solution and acquiring numerous customers.

The elements of acceleration will also include training in the presentation and optimization of the business model, market and competition analysis, and the protection of intellectual rights. The program will end with a presentation of the best solutions to an international network of investors and potential business partners (Demo Day).

The recruitment for the program, which has just started, will last until October 31st, 2022.

The global acceleration network is entering Poland

The ClimAccelerator network is the result of EIT Climate-KIC, the leader in European climate innovations. The institution operates worldwide, with acceleration partners on most continents. Thanks to its activities, over 2,100 climate startups have obtained over EUR 2 billion in external funding.

“EIT Climate-KIC is very pleased with Poland ClimAccelerator joining our offer for entrepreneurs. We look forward to the opportunity to support our knowledge and tips from Polish, pro-ecological artists and their innovative ideas. We would like to thank the Accelpoint and PKO Bank Polski teams for their cooperation and commitment in the pursuit of a zero-emission education, resistance to climate change society,” says Christian Daube, Strategic Programs Builder & Leader of Open ClimAccelerators Around the World, Climate-KIC.

 

Source: the Bank`s press release dated September 13, 2022

Raiffeisen Bank Romania launches instant payments

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Source: Raiffeisen Bank website, www.raiffeisen.ro

Raiffeisen Bank in Romania launches instant payments, thus entering the top seven banks that joined the Transfond scheme.

The product facilitates the transfer of money in a few seconds and is available 24/7/365 in the Raiffeisen Smart Mobile application, payment authorization being possible with biometric elements, or PIN in complete safety way.

In the first stage, the instant service (interbank payments of less than RON 50 thousand, made to banks in the instant payment scheme) was made available to Raiffeisen Bank`s private customers.

At this moment, all Raiffeisen Bank`s customers – individuals and legal entities – can instantly receive money that is sent through banks in the instant scheme.

Source: LinkedIn

“The main feature of instant payments is “real-time transactions”, the amount transferred reaches the beneficiary’s account in a maximum of ten seconds from the initiation of the payment. In addition, the non-stop availability of the service will position the product at the top of consumers’ preferences, but also of companies that collect their money instantly. Thus, opportunities are created to configure and launch new banking products and services based on the “instant ecosystem”, such as payments through QR codes,” said Florentina Stilu, Director of Transactional Services at Raiffeisen Bank.

Source: LinkedIn

“We have over 2.3 million individual customers, half of them (1.15 million) are digital customers. By launching instant payments, we want to attract all our customers to the digital age. Those who have a current account at Raiffeisen Bank must use the Smart Mobile application, and their experience as a current account holder will improve significantly. As you know, the costs are RON 0, if only one monthly payment is made. I can also assure customers that the security of transactions is permanently monitored by the Bank through all available means. It is one of our major concerns,” said Vladimir Kalinov, Retail Vice President at Raiffeisen Bank.

 

Source: the Bank`s press release dated September 07, 2022

SME Banking Conversations: Daniel Szekely (Banca Transilvania)

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With this fifth episode of SME Banking Conversations with Olena Gryniuk, we are continuing the series of inspiring interviews on SME Banking, digital transformation, and people making innovations happen in the industry!

The recording of the fifth episode took place in August in Cluj-Napoca (Romania), in the Head Office of Banca TransilvaniaOlena Grynuik – CEE Regional Director at SME Banking Club, interviewed Daniel Szekely – Head of SME Banking at Banca Transilvania – the biggest bank in Romania by assets and by the number of SME customers.

Listen to this conversation on our SoundCloud channel:

Olena Gryniuk: I’m in your T-shirt. I don’t know if you can take it closer, but it says that “I don’t need face ID to transfer good vibes”. So, let’s talk today about transferring good vibes and good services to SMEs.

Daniel Szekely: Right.

OG: Banca Transilvania – the biggest bank in Romania in all the segments and, particularly in SME. You serve over 300,000 customers, making up around 80% of SMEs here in Romania. I think this is a dream and target for all the banks. What are your success factors? How did you succeed to have this biggest part of SMEs and making your bank as a bank of the first choice for SMEs?

DS: Thank you very much for the appreciative words. I just want to say that actually there is a debate about how many SMEs are in Romania. So, we could say, let’s say one in every two companies works with the Banca Transilvania. And that is a big thing. And considering SMEs according to the European Union definition, then we would say that we would have approximately 400,000 clients. Now, success factors. I will surely forget to mention some of them, but let’s say the first success factor, the most important one was that we had focus from the start, so we didn’t get here by accident. It was planned. We saw this opportunity of filling the space that everyone filled with either corporate banking products or retail strategy. And we said this segment needs a dedicated approach, a specific approach. And we acted. We made the plan. We followed it thoroughly. So, the first thing was the focus. The second thing was a completely distinct business line, which was right under the deputy CEO. So, it got the needed attention. And then it was because, as you know, in most of the banks, the SME is under either Retail or Corporate. What is the risk of having this kind of approach that other banks have? Retail is huge. And if retail is huge, micro will not get the same attention. If you put it on a corporate, then corporate is also huge, a limited, more limited number of clients, but they have large exposure. What happens if you put it on the Corporate is that the corporate products will be just transferred on the SME side, this is not good either. You should have a completely dedicated approach because these guys are not Corporate, are not Retail, they are in between, and they need something special. The second most important thing was a dedicated team. I mean, what you do in the head office, you should also do in the network, in the branches. And we reached now approximately 400 dedicated colleagues that are working with us on the assembly side. Actually, everyone is dealing with SME clients, but 400 are our experts and they are divided between our RMs, analysts, and of course the managers of the SME activity in a branch. Then I would say because we have done a lot of research over the years regarding SMEs and we found out that the smaller the companies, the more important the proximity. So, we were extremely lucky that the bank developed and that we developed, and we reached several years to 500 units. Proximity is important for SMEs. And then of course we adopted the plan for launching new products every three months at first. And then we slowed down a little bit because we wanted to accumulate the correct number of products and they were mainly loan products, but not exclusively. We also launched some interesting initiatives like the Club for Romanian Entrepreneurs that exists also today, we launched the dedicated current account package, and things like that. So it wasn’t only loans, but loans were the core. The core of everything. And then basically everything we’ve done followed this kind of approach of being close and coming with dedicated products. Because there was another business loan line launched in 2007 if I recall it right, it was the medical division. But the medical division was having the same kind of objective, the same kind of small entrepreneurs, not large hospitals, it was about the doctor. Professionals. And then we had the next one the Agricultural Division, the same approach. I mean, we would try and serve the Romanian agriculture that was made of made up of several, very few big companies and then a lot of small entrepreneurs. This is specific in Romania. So, what we’ve done with this business line is that we created dedicated products for small entrepreneurs in the agricultural field. And then were, of course, other initiatives that kind of helped us reach this stage but maybe we’ll have the opportunity to talk.

OG: How big team is engaged here, in the Head Office, in SME banking?

DS: It is a very good question. You probably would expect us to be, I don’t know, close to 100 or something like this. We are not, by far. There is a team that directly deals with SMEs. And that team is about 20 people. There is also a larger team of companies, that is also very focused on this on the SME side. So, I would say that whenever we are talking about companies, we are always considering SMEs. In the network, we have a large number, it exceeds 400 people. And there are also the agency managers, our smaller units that are dealing with SMEs, half of their time is dedicated to dealing with their micro clients’ portfolio. So, we have to consider also them, additional 460 people approximately that are helping us.

OG: What is your path to SME Banking and Banca Transilvania?

DS: First of all, let me say that I wasn’t dreaming of becoming a banker. When I was in college, I never thought that I would work here, wear a suit and shirt and formal shoes and things like that. How did I get to do work with SME? I was working in the Corporate department as a regional sales manager for the corporate side of our business in Banca Transilvania. And then someday the Deputy CEO came to me and said: “Daniel, I have an interesting proposal for you. It will be interesting. We either make it or break it. If we succeed, it will be the biggest success here. And if we fail, we want to leave”. And I said: “I’m in” and this is how it all started. And I’m happy to have done this so far because it was a very, very interesting journey. It was a beautiful journey. A lot of things changed on the way. First, we launched products, then we had to adjust people’s responsibilities. It was continuously changing. And now, several years now, the biggest concern is about going digital and rethinking the channels. It’s never boring.

OG: Let’s talk about digital. This is visible, and I think everybody in the region noticed that you’ve been launching recently a lot of digital tools for micros and SMEs. You launched online onboarding and online account opening, and online loan application. You have also eSign – a digital signature for the agreements for SMEs. What is the feedback here on the Romanian market on these tools? Do you consider this a successful turn to service and meets the expectations of Romanian entrepreneurs, and do they expect digital tools from the banks? And second: what were the challenges?

DS: We had a lot of challenges. We still do. I am proud of what we have done so far. We can do a lot better and we have to do a lot better. We covered only some basic products, but we are in the course of developing and having the basic services covered with this digital way of doing things. I don’t know which was the first. I think it was the chatbot.

OG: Yes, I am a fan of your chatbot Raul. It was like two-three years ago you launched it?

DS: We launch it more than three years ago. It started with Raul – Head of companies’ digitalization. And we went to a show in Amsterdam and a meeting, it was about it digital, about digital products, how to make digital products. And we met there, the company, I won’t say its name because we didn’t want to advertise it. We established contact with the company that was doing this kind of chatbot. And it was interesting. We set it up in approximately six-nine months. We started a bit slowly. But now our biggest challenge is to make it active. This is what I would like for our chatbot. I mean, if you have it on your WhatsApp, I would like it to give you some data. It shouldn’t be only reactive, it should be proactive. And this is why we’re having the discussion with our colleagues from GDPR regarding how much you can tell them, how much can advertise, and things like that. We don’t want to use it actually for advertising. Of course, everybody wants to sell more, but it’s about giving valuable information to our clients and it’s about giving it that the right time, not when it’s not relevant. So, this was one of the initiatives. And then we had to have the base for everything, the current account opening, we had to have it and it works. We still have improvements to do, but it works.

When we are talking about clients, about what they are expecting. Of course, a lot of them say, yes, do this, we will use it. It’s not quite like that. It takes time for people to adopt another journey because they are used to going to the branches. I know in some other countries, developed countries maybe some of the banks completely prohibited the current account opening in the branch. So SMEs have no other option than to open online. In Romania, it’s not like that. You cannot just close it and say, okay guys, starting from today, you can only open a current account online. It takes time. It’s all change, the routine, and the behavior of people. And from year to year, we have more and more younger people, entrepreneurs, and those who will use online products. So, we expect a gradual adoption, and we will reach a significant part of the market. There’s no question about this.

OG: Which percentage of your customers comes from the digital channels and the branches right now?

DS: We’re closing in one of every four clients coming online, but this is also due to some limitations that we have, considering the KYC rules and everything. But we will make it possible for a larger part to access this account opening online.

OG: Do have some targets for the nearest years on that?

DS: Yes, of course, we have. For SMEs, basically, all SMEs that have one shareholder, the target is almost 100%. We should do it exclusively online. But for other types of companies, more complicated ones, there will be cases in which we will have to open a bank account traditionally. But I know it’s not more than, let’s say, 5% of the cases.

OG: Do you consider Romania a country with an entrepreneurial spirit? Do young people here want to have or found a startup or to become an entrepreneur? Do you feel it? How many new entrepreneurs are opening every year?

DS: Every year on average we have 70000 new companies. I would say yes, I would say that this is aspirational. I mean, people would like to establish their own business, to have an idea, to follow it, to do it. As a number per thousand inhabitants of Romania, I think we are not very good in Europe. Still, I read several years ago a study in which they pointed out that Romania is more collaborative than other countries. I mean, in Romania there is a much higher percentage of people that do business together. So usually we have two-three people doing one business. Yeah. And this is why as SMEs in number we are not so good. But considering the entrepreneurs behind them, we are quite all right, even at the EU level. So, I would say yes.

OG: You opened in July, I guess, a month ago new space for entrepreneurs in Bucharest called Hive. And now you published the first results with new customers acquired, new accounts opened so it looks like a very successful project.

DS: Yeah. It’s our latest initiative, the biggest one in several years. We made a big bet on this, and we will win it, because we are prepared to pilot, to experiment with new things. The basic idea is that we wanted a space dedicated to someone that wants to establish his own business. We wanted the space in which he would not only get banking services, but also other services needed for his business. In this Hive, we thought of having services for startups, for the scale of companies, and for everyone interested in growing their business. And therefore, it’s something new. It’s 2500 square meters of space. We also have meeting spaces. We can organize events there. We can do a lot of things. But what is different from any other initiative is that we actually have this collaborator, these partners inside, and they will on the spot solve the needs of the client. So, this should make the difference. And it will.

OG: What SMEs should expect next from you, which solutions and initiatives? What are you doing preparing for them right now and what are your plans for the nearest future?

DS: We have quite a large portfolio of products. What we are focusing now is on making them accessible. And making them accessible means not only price-wise, but it means that I should do it easily. I shouldn’t go to the bank physically to solve an issue. I should just do it on my mobile phone. So, this is the number one thing that we want to do. We want to get to that level to help entrepreneurs in their daily lives with small things, and bigger things, but they should be able to solve them there. And in this respect, yes, we are working even on an application that we say is beyond banking because we actually want to cover the basic needs of the entrepreneur. So, to make a comparison of what I’ve told you about Hive, that we want to solve their problems, we would like to do this online, we would like to do it in an app, webpage, or portal. And we will start with something new. MVP is supposed to happen this fall. I can’t tell you exactly what will be starting with, but it will be premier on the Romanian market.

OG: This is great Daniel. I’m personally looking forward to it. Very much so. Good luck with it and thank you for this conversation.

DS: Thank you. Thank you for visiting us.

 

SME Banking Club thanks Daniel Szekely for participating in our project and sharing her experience with the audience!

Watch the conversation below:

E-invoicing in the Digital Bank for SMEs

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Source: Intellias

On September 14, SME Banking Club, together with Intellias, organized a webinar on e-invoicing in the digital bank for SMEs.

At the very beginning of the webinar, Olena Gryniuk (SME Banking Club) mentioned that the usage of electronic invoices will become mandatory for businesses operating in the European Union in the upcoming 2-3 years. It means that businesses will have to choose their e-invoice provider. Whether banks will be providers of these services for SMEs in the CEE region and what solutions will they implement? All these questions were the main topic of the webinar. In addition, Olena Gryniuk noted that 30% of the banks in the CEE region implemented e-invoicing for their SME customers as of now.

After that, Ivan Bakhtin (Intellias) presented information related to the international standards of e-invoicing and highlighted that some EDI providers readily integrate with others. As a result, such interaction affects both international companies and domestic ones (with international suppliers and/or customers). So, they can be connected between ERP or accounting systems and EDI providers. Moreover, Ivan demonstrated typical procurement and EDI interaction models (three corner models).

Then Ivan Bakhtin introduced the examples of market accounting and e-invoicing solutions, as well as market payment processing solutions for the SME sector.

After that, Ivan proposed to figure out which solution will be better for the banks – to develop e-invoice products in-house or to integrate with SaaS. These two approaches, of course, have their advantages and disadvantages, and banks should consider using one or another depending on their digital strategy. E.g., if banks will develop e-invoice products in-house, they can control the process management, and easily integrate the internal systems. On the contrary, it requires more funds and a longer time-to-market time. If banks will integrate e-invoicing solutions with SaaS, the implementation can be done quickly, there will be no need for competition and significant funding.

Furthermore, in the last part of the webinar Katalin Kauzli (Charlie-India) joined Olena Gryniuk and Ivan Bakhtin in the Panel Discussion. The main question that Olena Gryniuk discussed with the speaker was “What stops the banks from implementing e-invoicing as advantages for both banks and SMEs (if to name shortly: new revenue streams from the e-invoicing service itself, and also increased revenues from core banking operations: transactions and finance; personalization of the offer and contextual finance) are obvious”.

Katalin Kauzli sees two main reasons for that:

  • Banks’ mindset – as they haven’t implemented e-invoicing before, as this is not a core banking product, they don’t have people devoted to that and that stops them on the high level. Partners can help in consulting on product implementation as a part of the integration process.
  • The stage of the digital journey bank is located at. The more digital processes banks implemented for their customers the more open they are to the next implementations. But initially, there is no direct correlation between the availability of end-to-end digital journey for the business customer in the bank and the implementation of the e-invoicing journey. These journeys could be built simultaneously or in parallel, or separately – depending on the bank’s digital strategy.

Therefore, all speakers once again conclude that the implementation of e-invoicing solutions by banks is a key decision that is required and beneficial to both sides.

 

To learn more details, watch the full webinar below:

 

Slovenská sporiteľňa establishes the Seed Starter program for startups

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© Erste Bank, Source: Erste Group

Slovenská sporiteľňa decided to establish the first corporate venture capital program in Slovakia. However, Slovenská sporiteľna`s Seed Starter will not only be about financing startups but mainly about content support, which is why the program includes an incubator and so-called Bootcamp. Slovenská sporiteľňa thus wants to help create a favorable environment for the creation and growth of innovations in Slovakia.

Less than EUR 30 versus almost EUR 2,000 per capita. There is such a huge difference between investments in startups in Slovakia and the world leader – Estonia. In addition, Romanians, Bulgarians, and Ukrainians invest more in startups than Slovaks. Traditionally, Czechs, Hungarians, Poles, and Austrians are also better off.

Source: LinkedIn

“Startups are the key to a more resilient economy. They create jobs with high added value the fastest and attract talent from all over the world. However, Slovakia lags significantly behind in promoting entrepreneurship and supporting the growth of innovative technology companies. Without a fundamental change in approach, we will miss the train,” – said Peter Kolesár, a Partner at Civitta, which provides consulting services in the field of innovation and startup support in Central and Eastern Europe. It was founded in Estonia and currently operates in 18 countries.

Source: LinkedIn

According to Petr Krutil, CEO of Slovenská sporiteľna, the startup environment in Slovakia needs a significant boost. “Slovakia’s economy has a structural problem, we cannot survive without innovations. We therefore decided to establish the first corporate venture capital program for financing startups in Slovakia – Slovenská sporiteľna`s Seed Starter. Its goal is not only to finance startups in Slovakia, but also to take care of them comprehensively and create a suitable environment for innovation to grow. We are convinced that Slovakia needs businessmen and businesswomen who believe in innovation and a Bank that will support them”.

Slovaks want to be inspired

Source: LinkedIn

Slovaks can traditionally be inspired by the Czech Republic. “At home, we benefit from ideas coming from the university environment, to which – we must honestly admit – Slovak students also contribute, especially from Brno,” – explains Jiří Skopový, CEO of Česká spořitelna’s Seed Starter, which has been successfully operating for three years.

 

According to him, the startup scene in the Czech Republic is much better established and connected abroad. “In the Czech Republic, for example, we have pre-incubation programs already at schools, incubation and mentoring programs, extensive and relatively well-processed angel investment, pre-seed and seed investments,” – adds Jiří Skopový.

Thanks to this, the Czech Republic already has two startups with a value exceeding a billion dollars: Productboard with a valuation of USD 1.75 billion, followed by Rohlík with a valuation of  USD 1.2 billion.

Today, Česká spořitelna’s Seed Starter is seen in the startup environment as a key corporate venture capital. During its existence, it has already invested approximately EUR 4 million in startups in the Czech Republic. “We do Bootcamps for budding startupists, various events, networking, we support them financially and in terms of content,” – adds Jiří Skopový.

In addition, Seed Starter is launching a unique program with USMAC and Unicorn Attacks, which will provide startups from the Czech Republic and Slovakia with a two-month acceleration program with individualized mentoring, meeting with American investors and potential business partners, and which will culminate in a two-week trip to Silicon Valley.

Years of experience

Source: LinkedIn

Among the successful startups supported by Seed Starter is also PalmApp – an application and online service allowing immediate and transparent access to money from a salary in advance, for already worked hours. “I see the entire cooperation with Seed Starter so far positively, we signed business cooperation regarding the mediation of contacts from Bank advisors of Česká spořitelna regarding the use of our service for companies in the SME and Large Corporates segment. After only a few months of cooperation, we have dozens of signed contracts and we see great interest from other companies. We are in a great synergy, the Bank will offer the companies additional financing and PalmApp will offer its innovative product,” – explains Petr Ladžov, Founder and CEO of the Startup PalmApp.

Slovenská sporiteľňa also wants to bring support for the technological startup environment, but it is not starting on a green field. The largest Slovak Bank has twenty years of experience with corporate financing and seven years of experience supporting startup entrepreneurs. Within this target group, approximately eight thousand business ideas passed through the Bank, more than a tenth received financing.

Slovenská sporiteľna`s Seed Starter 

  • The first corporate venture capital program to support startups in Slovakia.
  • 100% subsidiary of Slovenská sporiteľna.
  • It connects funded startups and their solutions to the environment of the largest Bank.
  • It helps startups with the go-to-market phase.
  • For young technology companies, with a strong vision and value for customers, that dare to exist even in 200 years.
  • It brings startups not only financing, but also content support, the program also includes an incubator and so-called Bootcamp www.seedstarter.sk.

Source: The press release by Slovenská sporiteľňa dated September 08, 2022

Raiffeisen Bank Romania launches Factory GROW for SMEs

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Source: Raiffeisen Bank website, www.raiffeisen.ro

Raiffeisen Bank in Romania launches Factory GROW – a personalized scaling module, based on which entrepreneurs can obtain a loan of up to EUR 500 thousand, to propel their businesses to other markets, expand their business model or innovate.

The entrepreneurs who already have a business model validated by the market and a clear vision of the business development plan can enroll in the scaling module.

The registrations at Factory GROW are open throughout the year https://www.raiffeisenfactory.ro/factory-grow. Those who register until September 17, respectively October 17, will go through the selection stages with priority.

Five years after its launch, the Factory by Raiffeisen Bank program becomes an ecosystem of opportunities for entrepreneurs who need resources, guidance, and support to take their businesses to the next level of development. Thus, for the first time in Romania, Raiffeisen Bank offers mature companies the opportunity to grow rapidly, with a personalized scaling strategy, according to business needs.

The Factory GROW scaling module is addressed to all curious entrepreneurs, open to learning, with solid know-how in business and who are determined to expand their businesses. In Factory GROW, they benefit from a personalized scaling strategy for free, based on clear growth objectives, they receive support to identify the directions they should focus on, but also the necessary tools to easily manage the changes in their businesses.

To implement the scaling strategy, the entrepreneurs have access to a loan of up to EUR 500 thousand and benefit from constant support and guidance from the Factory GROW team, made up of Raiffeisen Bank specialists and entrepreneurs with experience in the scaling process.

Benefits and opportunities in the scaling module

In addition to the funding and scaling strategy offered, the entrepreneurs will have the chance to develop their management and leadership qualities to be able to coordinate the business growth process, they will have access to new markets and they will be able to expand their business model in Europe or even in the world. At the same time, they will receive practical recommendations on how to adjust their business structure so that it corresponds to scaling ambitions, but also how to innovate the product, service, or business model to capture and increase the public’s interest in the company’s offer.

Factory GROW – a solution to the needs of entrepreneurs

Factory GROW represents a response to the need for resources and know-how highlighted by Romanian entrepreneurs who want to accelerate the development of their companies, but need financial support and more to take this step.

Source: LinkedIn

“We talk daily with dozens of entrepreneurs to understand their business needs and how our products can help them. Many Romanian companies, having reached a certain maturity, feel the need to move to the next level of development, modernize their internal organizational process, to launch a new product or an innovative service. Thus, we decided to develop Factory GROW, a scaling module dedicated to the needs and vision of Romanian entrepreneurs. Throughout the scaling process, our experts will guide the companies, helping them to properly manage their risks and expand their business according to their strategy and objectives,” – explained Vladimir Kalinov, Vice President of Retail at Raiffeisen Bank.

Source: LinkedIn

“Factory GROW scaling module is an ambitious program for an ambitious group of managers! The differentiating factor of a company, a potential candidate for scaling, is a confirmed and repeatable business model. As it has been proven in other European Union countries, financing is essential for the scaling journey, and to this will be added the support of Raiffeisen Bank, adapted to the individual needs of each company,” – added Raluca Cibu-Buzac, Luminspino Representative, a Partner in Implementing the Scaling Module.

The steps for applying Factory GROW:

  • The entrepreneur completes a diagnostic form, designed to identify the financial needs, strengths, necessary measures, and the company`s proposed courses of action.
  • The Factory GROW team will select the businesses according to their scaling potential.
  • Once the diagnostic process has ended, the entrepreneur together with the team of specialists builds the customized scaling strategy, which will ensure fast and safe growth.
  • For three years, during which the scaling strategy is implemented, the entrepreneurs benefit from constant support from the factory GROW team, which will monitor and analyze whether the company’s development takes place within the provided parameters and whether the results meet expectations.

How can entrepreneurs register in the module?

The registrations in Factory GROW are open from now until 2022, at https://www.raiffeisenfactory.ro/factory-grow. The entrepreneurs have two intermediate registration deadlines for the module, September 17th and October 17th, if they want their business to be evaluated with priority in one of the two evaluation intervals.

More details about Factory GROW are available at www.raiffeisenfactory.ro.

 

Source: the Bank`s press release dated September 09, 2022

Alior Bank is launching RBL_START acceleration program

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Source: Alior Bank

Alior Bank in Poland is starting the recruitment for the next edition of its RBL_START acceleration program. This time, it will select startups with the most interesting solutions in the area of human-mobile interactions. The winners can count a cash prize of EUR 10,000 and cooperation with Alior Bank or its partners. The recruitment of participants lasts until September 30 this year.

RBL_START is an acceleration program of Alior Bank operating mainly in the fintech area for 5 years. It deals with the scouting of innovative projects and mentoring young companies. This year, the entities are being sought to propose the most interesting solutions in the area of human-mobile interactions.

Source: LinkedIn

“We treat RBL_START program in our organization as a special event, a kind of innovation festival, in which a wide team of experts from various fields plays the role of full-time advisers to young companies that have modern solutions to offer. This year, we encourage you to submit startups that will present ideas for the development of the Bank’s interaction with the customer, especially in the digital layer. These challenges are consciously extensive, we are counting on applications that will open up new, including experimental, areas for action. Selected companies will participate in a 10-week acceleration program, during which, together with mentors, they will refine the product and operating model,” – says Paweł Franczyk, Managing Director of the Digital Sales Channels Division at Alior Bank.

This year, candidates have to come up with an idea for the implementation of six challenges:

  • improving the user experience of the mobile application,
  • increasing the involvement of an individual customer,
  • contextual sales and real-time marketing,
  • analysis of more data about customers and their behavior,
  • new methods of reaching the customer,
  • inclusiveness and availability – a bank that does not exclude anyone.

Companies from all over the world that have a working product or service can apply. The program will last 10 weeks, and selected entities, with the help of mentors, will prepare a professional business plan. Alior Bank plans to select two program winners. The main prize for the finalist is EUR 10,000.

The program also offers to establish permanent cooperation with Alior Bank or program partners, i.e. PZU, Mastercard, Microsoft, and the University of Economics in Wrocław. Consulting includes verification of the solution through PoC, mentoring of experts from various fields and partners, support in UX/UI design and testing, implementation of qualitative or quantitative research with the participation of the end user, or an investment option through the RBL_VC fund.

The recruitment of candidates will last until September 30, 2022. More details can be found on the program website: www.accelerator.aliorbank.pl.

 

Source: the Bank`s press release dated September 06, 2022

SME Banking Club is an international networking platform of business bankers aimed to provide relevant information on what banks and financial companies are offering for entrepreneurs, micro-, small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

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