Fintech Week Lithuania, which took place online on 15-18 June 2020 has culminated with the first-ever Lithuanian Fintech Awards. For a country, that is considered to be a leading fintech hub in Europe, and globally, it is a significant milestone, and, perhaps a new-born tradition?
The global fintech market is expected to grow at an annual rate of nearly 25% through 2022, reaching over $300 bn in market value. It is the industry that is anticipated to completely redefine our habits that relate to daily financial needs, savings, investment and borrowing. Lithuania, being among the leading fintech hubs in the World, hosts a substantial range of fintechs that are setting out the foundations for the fintech industry.
The 1st Lithuanian Fintech Awards were open in ten different categories, from ‘Company of the year in lending, investment & P2P’ to ‘Female executive of the year’.
The 1st Lithuanian Fintech Awards selected two key Fintech leaders of the year: Liudas Kanapienis and Jekaterina Govina. Liudas Kanapienis is a co-founder and CEO of Ondato – a client onboarding platform that helps fintechs to comply with Know-Your-Customer and Anti-Money-Laundering (AML/KYC) requirements. Being compliant to a well-regulated infrastructure, that is set out by the Bank of Lithuania in the country, is crucial to being a successful fintech in Lithuania. The compliance of fintech companies is being taken seriously, and a lot of work has been done by Jekaterina Govina, who is the Executive Director of Supervision Service at the Bank of Lithuania. She has been instrumental in developing regulations for fintechs. She is now initiating changes to innovate and smoothen the processes further, as well as improve Bank of Lithuania’s AML competence by establishing an AML excellence Centre.
Ondato, which is led by Liudas Kanapienis, has won the ‘Fintech Enabler of the Year’ award. The title suits the winner well, considering the importance that compliance and customer onboarding procedures take place in the world of fintech. Ondato provides a complete compliance management suite with regards to KYC procedures: it has a photo, live video identity verification, data monitoring, screening, due diligence, risk scoring and case management. Ondato offers simple integration in up to one week, avoiding complex contracts and system adjustments.
It is clear that complying to regulations for user onboarding is being taken seriously as more companies choose this as a business model that is necessary for the market. ‘The Fintech Startup of the Year’ was selected as iDenfy- a user verification and onboarding system for fintechs. iDenfy allows users to scan their IDs using smartphone cameras and use biometric verification to verify their accounts and charges fintechs per successful verification. The company plans to develop new fraud prevention and detection systems and expand to global markets.
Finbee, a peer-to-peer lending platform, was selected as the Fintech Growth Story of the Year. The company lends to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and is likely to have a positive impact on its business due to the Covid-19 crisis, as businesses seek financing. Finbee connects small companies that are overlooked by banks and need finance to grow, with investors who want to lend to them and earn a return. Finbee is the first and most active crowdfunding platform in Lithuania, serving thousands of retail, institutional investors and SMEs.
The largest peer-to-peer lending platform in Lithuania, NEO Finance, has won the ‘Company of the Year in Lending, Investment & P2P’. The company’s activities are subject to an unlimited electronic money institution (EMI) license issued by the Bank of Lithuania, which allows operations in the mutual lending (P2P) and consumer credit markets throughout the European Union. NEO Finance is listed on the Nasdaq Baltic First North stock market and has a branch in the Netherlands.
Crowdfunding and peer-to-peer fintech solutions seem to be a promising area, bringing success not only for the users but also for their leaders. The fintech ‘Female Executive of the Year’ title went to Viktorija Vanage, who is a co-founder and CEO of Profitus, a property-backed investment platform. Progressively growing her career in real estate, she had founded her first real estate company in 2011, and now is successfully leading Profitus. Among her plans is to start real estate crowdfunding activities in 2- 4 foreign countries.
What is Lithuania without Revolut: perhaps everyone that has a minor interest in fintech knows that Revolut has a strong base in Lithuania. At the 1st Lithuania Fintech Awards, Revolut has won the ‘Company of the Year in Payments & Digital Banking’ title. In 2020, Revolut has operationalized its first banking license in the country and are planning to launch more banking services, spreading them across the European Union afterwards. Among the plans is to offer consumer lending services, including consumer loans and credit cards, while strengthening core retail and business offerings.
Another alternative to traditional banks, Bankera, was selected as ‘Fintech for Business Impact of the year’ category winner. Bankera provides business accounts, SEPA and SWIFT and payment processing solutions and a card, together with multi-currency support. Bankera’s customers come from digital industries such as affiliate marketing, eCommerce, gaming, cryptocurrency exchanges, P2P finance and others. This year, Bankera was the winner of the competition organized by the European Commission to find the best solution for short-term SME financing.
‘The Fintech Innovator of the Year’ award went to MANU – a behavioural analytics company, that tracks behavioural data of a person while it fills in the verification applications online. According to MANU, every customer leaves specific marks while applying for services and filling applications and MANU turns these marks into behavioural profiles. MANU’s product uses a data-driven machine learning model to analyze customers based on personality traits, social identity and even emotional state, in which a customer was during the application process.
Lithuanian Fintech Awards were the cherry on the Fintech Week Lithuania’s cake, which gathered most influential fintech leaders and companies online over a period of four days.
It is great to see that a country of barely three million people, Lithuania, has found a clear direction in which it accelerates and shows international leadership. No doubt that this is only the beginning for Lithuania. The country has already gathered substantial experience in the fintech industry and is setting groundwork standards for fintech ecosystem globally.
The Bank of Lithuania did challenging work in terms of merging the existing and forward-looking regulations that would be suitable for the modern-day financial infrastructure. It is inspiring that mutual work among the stakeholders of the ecosystem has encouraged leaders of fintech and the development of business ideas. Great future awaits for those who are the first to recognize opportunities, and Lithuania has done precisely that.