FINTECH INDUSTRY IN BULGARIA: ADAPTATION AND DEVELOPMENT

by Bozhidara Georgieva

The field benefits from the current dynamic environment

Nowadays all of us wonder what will be the new normal after humanity eventually overcomes the Covid-19 pandemic. The answers are many and diverse, but one of the surest things is that fintech industry will become an even more important part of the planet's life and economy.

Fintech industry has longer history, but it became a true disruptor that changed the way we use money and financial instruments after the global financial crisis of 2008-2009. Put in motion by financial specialists from the collapsed bank sector, using the power of modern technologies and targeting an increasingly mobile, active and best-deal oriented clients, fintech industry transformed the world. It offered to companies and individual clients optimised, quick and cheap financial services without the mediation of the clumsy established players, banks and insurance companies. In a matter of years cashless payments, online platforms for crowdfunding, money transfer between countries and currencies without heavy fees, cryptocurrencies, access to Р2Р credits and investments became a part of everyday life for billions of people around the world.

Fintech industry changed our life, and we hardly even noticed. Today, during the Covid-19 pandemic, we realised that the field has an immense potential to make our life not only easier, but also safer. Adaptive and innovative, the sector fares excellently in an environment that shook big players on the market, from governments to airlines to oil producers.

Bulgaria started to develop its own fintech industry before 2008, and in the past decade it became one of its centres in Eastern and Central Europe. The country quickly turned into a magnet for international investors attracted by the excellent conditions for development and business.

"Bulgaria is an excellent location for us, our Bulgarian team is a crucial part of our recent success and future growth potential," says Yuval Ziv, Chief Operating Officer at SafeCharge (www.safecharge.com), a Nuvei company for development of smart payment processing which opened an R&D office in Bulgaria in 2007. "For a start, in Bulgaria there is an extensive talent pool oriented to both technology and finance, which makes it much easier to grow the business. Secondly, we take a family approach to our company culture, which dovetails nicely with Bulgarian values and helps to implement the company vision here at our Bulgarian headquarters. Finally, Bulgaria is perfectly positioned within the EU to facilitate smooth in/out market access while providing plenty of scope to target global markets."

The market of Bulgarian fintech industry also includes established local companies who offer innovative services of world-level quality and work with both local and international partners and clients.

"The business of shared finance platforms in the USA and Europe has tripled in the past 10 years, so it was impossible for Bulgaria to stay isolated from this trend," says Yordan Hristev, Business Development manager of Help2Play (phone: +359 882 450 662, info@help2play.net, www.help2play.net), a Bulgarian company for loan investment, established in 2017. "However, our focus is not restricted to the Bulgarian market. In 2018 we planned entering the European market and offering a wider variety of loans. In the long run, we want to turn Help2Play into a major investment instrument for all. Currently, Help2Play has attracted over 1,200 users on two continents. The company is a part of the global trend of the sharing economy, linked to the business model of online platforms such as Uber and Airbnb, which connect people owning a certain resource (money, cars, homes, etc) with people who need it. At the moment global finances are in a cycle of overliquidity and zero interests on bank deposits. This stimulates 'money' to search for alternatives forms of investments that provide higher returns."

The trust in fintech industry services among corporate and individual clients was on the rise long before Covid-19 became a household name. During the pandemic, however, an increasing number of clients realised the advantages of contemporary fintech solutions and implemented them in their businesses. That is why even when the social distancing measures are eventually relaxed, the world will hardly return to traditional ways of finance services operation. The comfort and security of modern fintech solutions will become a constant presence in our life because in the darkest of times they proved they can provide trouble-free and smooth work of the economy.

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