Back in April 2020 the University of Cambridge Judge Business School published a Report entitled “Fintech Innovation in the Western Balkans”. This Report backs up every claim we have made and supports our belief that the region – and not just the Western Balkans, but the broader Balkans – is one that is ripe for change.
The Balkans are in many respects, no different from many in the world today that are now seeing early-stage technology and regulatory driven changes to the existing financial ecosystem.
While we are not going to go into detail here as to all the findings of the Report, there are some key highlights we believe are of vital importance to understanding the region if you are an outsider. As we have said many times if you live in Western Europe you take for granted many of the financial instruments you have at your fingertips. Take a step or two outside of this comfort zone and the world is a very different proposition.
Some of the key points that are highlighted in the Report include:
- The Balkan financial services sector is undergoing rapid transformation as a result of new technology, new market entrants and new activity
- Businesses – and indeed consumers – are gaining access to new levels of service and new financial products previously denied
- It is a region with high levels of mobile and internet penetration which can only be of benefit to new fintech service providers
- It is a region seeing rapidly increasing use of card and digital payments
- The Balkans suffers from a really sclerotic finance sector dominated by a few players which in turn is limiting access to capital and finance which in turn is making money expensive
The Report goes on to outline what is for Zvilo the most important issue – the challenge and opportunity for fintechs. These include a risk averse culture within existing financial institutions, a low level of trust in them, and the comparatively high cost of core financial services which includes payments and credit. Furthermore, the Report also highlights the low levels of accessibility to financial and capital markets.
These pain points sound all to familiar for many in the region and those who are from the Balkans. It also lies at the heart of the Zvilo propostion.
The Report by the University of Cambridge Judge Business School was conducted in conjunction with the World Bank and is in our opinion one of the most insightful on the market produced in recent years.
This Report is publically available and it is worth taking the time to read in detail.
You can access it by clicking on the below report.