The last day of Fintech Week Lithuania started a Fintech pitch battle. It was motivating to see what do the startup founders identify as a niche area that is poised for success. Fintech startup ideas included decentralized data storage, behavioural analytics, compensation for missed flights, and lending products, among others. The winners of the fintech pitch battle were selected as Inform Debtor and Manu Analytics – a debt management system and a behavioural profiling platform.
It is valuable that in times of uncertainty existing and to-be entrepreneurs are developing novel ideas and searching for business opportunities. The first panel of the day discussed how do startups survive the crisis, what should they do when the times are tough and accessibility to finance is more difficult – although times are always challenging for a startup. Tony Greenberg, the CEO of tech consultancy firm Ramprate from California, United States, said during the panel discussion that fundraising always consumes a tremendous amount of time, not only in times of crisis. It is extremely challenging for a company to create revenue and raise money at the same time. The advice given to startups is: ‘Spend each minute of the day so that it is optimal’.
The next panelists that included leaders of Venture Capital firms – Katalista Ventures, Maven 11 Capital and 70Ventures, as well as a digital strategy firm from New York, Clarke Global Marketing, shared similar views that funding is always available for really good solutions. In particular, today, there is plenty of money in the market and investors are looking for solid, resilient products that have not only survived the economic consequences of the Covid-19 crisis but also increased in demand.
The key advice that was given to startups and companies that are experiencing difficulties not only in times of this crisis but in any crisis, is to conduct clear and honest communication with current investors, keeping them in the loop of what is going on and managing their expectations.
The last day of Fintech Week continued with long-awaited Fintech Awards, which acknowledged fintech companies that are established in Lithuania.
The winners of the 1st Lithuanian Fintech Awards:
- Fintech startup of the year: iDenfy
- Fintech growth story of the year: Finbee
- Fintech for business impact of the year: Bankera
- Company of the year in lending, investment and P2P: Neo Finance
- Fintech innovator of the year: MANU Analytics
- Fintech enabler of the year: Ondato
- Company of the year in payments and digital banking: Revolut
- Empowerment of Fintech in Lithuania: The Bank of Lithuania
- Female executive of the year: Viktorija Vanage, Profitus
- Fintech leader of the year: Jekaterina Govina, the Bank of Lithuania
- Fintech leader of the year: Liudas Kanapienis, Ondato
How did Lithuania become an exceptionally attractive fintech hub, having such a solid number of fintech companies that it even holds the awards ceremony?
A Senior Investment Advisor of a governmental agency Invest Lithuania, Rugile Stonyte, told Lithuania’s fintech story to Fintech Week Lithuania audience. According to Invest Lithuania, key factors of the country’s success in fintech are due to Lithuanians being agile, innovative, cooperative, ambitious, and persistent.
Lithuania is a small country, which gives it the advantage of being quick to adopt and open for change. Some time ago, the Bank of Lithuania, which is the financial watchdog of the country, realized that it perhaps lacked innovation. It has decided to change that by increasing competition in financial services and streamlining the processes for faster Electronic Money Institution (EMI) and Payment Institution (PI) licenses issuance. Also, Lithuania has introduced CENTROlink program, which allows for fintechs to process SEPA payments directly through the Central Bank, avoiding commercial banks as intermediaries.
Today, the Bank of Lithuania and its efforts are recognized globally. The country hosts more than two hundred fintechs, that includes famous names such as Revolut, Railsbank, TransferGo, and many others. The country continues to be ambitious and sets the highest standards thriving to improve the fintech ecosystem.
Continuous improvement and education are some of the key factors for the success of the country. Lithuanians take education very seriously, are being persistent, and continuously increase talent pool with retraining programmes and funding for IT studies. Re-skilling and education for the digital age was the last topic, which has closed Fintech Week Lithuania – an indication that in order to survive and to improve, we must embark on a continuous learning process and encourage others do to the same.