Running since 2016, the Fintech Digital Congress has welcomed a host of leading figures from the world of Banking, payments, tech and Fintech over the years. This year is no different.
Way back in 2016, when I’d just started getting my head around bitcoin. I was pleasantly surprised when I received a personal invite from the organisers at the Fintech Digital Congress in Warsaw. The headline speakers back then included Malgorzata Szturmowicz and Tomasz Czechowicz, two influential members of the Polish fintech community who are still involved today.
Back then, as today, Polish Fintech was a big thing. And initiatives like those being piloted at mBank were gaining recognition across the whole of Europe.
Back in 2013, mBank attended Finovate Europe where they received the Best of Show Award. With a Fintech event based in Warsaw it was essential to have Jaroslaw Mastalerz on stage. Jaroslaw was the Vice President for Operations and Informatics at mBank at the time and was without doubt one of the most charismatic speakers at the 2016 event. He was in good company.
It was only last week that I bumped into Jeff Tijssen, now of Bain & Co., in Amsterdam at #Money2020eu. The first time I met with Jeff was actually in Warsaw in November 2016 when he was at Capco and was the Guest of Honor at the Fintech Digital Congress. Today I bump into Jeff at events across the world, it all started in Warsaw though:
And Jeff wasn’t the only speaker who has graced the Fintech Digital Congress over the years. Other influencers like Spiros Margaris, Ghela Boskovich and Chris Skinner have all been speakers at the Fintech Digital Congress:
Indeed for many of us, this was the first time we’d really understood the changing landscape of Fintech and how it was here to stay. And what roles influencers have had in helping spread the message.
Adaptability of Banking in Poland
Banking in Poland has evolved in a unique way. Many regional banks were bought up by large international players like GE Money Bank or Allied Irish Bank, rebranded, repackaged and rolled out. Some banks have changed owners in recent times, like in the cases of Pekao SA and Alior Bank.
Fintechs like Cinkciarz.pl (now Conotoxia.pl) have also gained traction. Not to mention other stalwarts of the Polish fintech scene like Coinfirm and Azimo, all of whom attended Fintech Digital Congresses over the years.
External pressures on the local talent-pool started to create pressures on Banks and fintechs alike though. Poland is renowned for its’ developed ‘Shared Services Industry’. With banks like Citi, RBS, UBS, HSBC, Credit Suisse and Nordea all soaking up tech talent, to support their global development needs. Some of these banks entered Poland offering salaries far above those offered by local businesses.
So what did Polish banks and fintechs do when this happened? They adapted, they waited for more to come and when Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan finally turned up, they learnt to co-exist with the larger incumbents.
Uniquely, Poland made it work. Polish developers support banks from all over the world today, without having to leave home in most cases. Goldman Sachs new challenger bank – Marcus, is being developed by a team in Poland. All the wealth management products offered by Hargreaves Lansdowne to their customers in the UK, are developed by a team in Poland. The list goes on. IG.com, Universal Investment, OANDA, Revolut, Backbase and hordes of others have entered Poland in recent years. And they keep coming, and Polish talent keeps performing well above expectation.
Poland, Europe’s Tech hub
While it’s clear to see that Polish developers are doing well in the Banking and financial services sector. A host of tech firms in Poland are following suit and developing a ‘Fintech’ offering within their current portfolio of services. Comarch, the leading Polish IT firm, was present at Money2020 back in 2019. Today Netguru, Nethone, and J-labs are just some of the Polish tech firms looking to grow internationally. Przelewy24 go every year too, another hugely successful Polish fintech.
It all started with Sii, Luxoft and EPAM entering the Polish market. Luxoft, a Russian firm originally, who are now listed on the NYSE, have enabled Switzerland’s first Blockchain based e-vote platform. Today firms in this sector abound, and more and more of them are attending events like Fintech Digital Congress.
As opposed to the visions of old-fashioned developers working in post-communist blocks, today’s Polish developer enjoys the same creature comforts that his counter-parts in California or Singapore do. The customer has taken centre-stage. And customers are more and more interested in outsourcing their work to Poland.
Fintech Digital Congress – the best place to be in CEE
Having successfully run so many Fintech events in Poland, it’s always hard to build on the successes of the past. So what have the organizers planned for this year?
Fintech 2.0 is something that we covered recently at #DisruptionBanking for Money2020 and the theme continues at the 10th Fintech Digital Congress this week with topics such as:
How to shape a mature fintech?
The attractiveness of Polish fintechs
Challenges in building new era fintechs
New business models of banks
Embedded Finance and Insurance
And much more, all covering Innovation, Investment, as well as hybrid and digital customer experiences and communication in 2022.
But, ultimately, the FinTech & InsurTech Digital congress is about networking. Refreshing your contacts, learning new things and taking part in the number 1 event of its’ type in Central Eastern Europe.
Will you be there? We will. Can’t wait.
Author: Andy Samu
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