The shores of Vistula river inhabit one of the most prolific fintech ecosystems in the world, with the financing of millions of Euro. The leaders of this revolution will meet at Impact fintech’17.

“It’s about retaining a client, which requires them to do minimal action. I would like to see it function this way in our company” says Cezary Stypułkowski, mBank’s CEO, when asked about the factors shaping the banking revolution. While the client is not required to be very active, the expectations for the banks themselves are the opposite. Being overactive in the financial field involves navigating in the jungle of 6,000 fintech start-ups, all looking for their place in the wallets and smartphones of consumers who, not too long ago, would have seemed to be tied to a single bank, indefinitely. Thus, it does not come as a surprise that the global fintech sector is experiencing an investment boom. Just this year, it will receive the funding of over 35 billion USD, 10-14 percent of which will come directly out of the banks’ pockets. A large portion of those funds will also come from Polish banks. For example, mBank has funded its mAkcelerator, which cost 200 million PLN. The goal is to finance local businesses in a way which will eventually turn them into global entities. There are a few companies already on the radar, and the best way to find them will be at the biggest fintech conference in this part of Europe – this year’s Impact fintech’17 in Katowice.


Offence in their DNA

Impact fintech’17 is set to initialise projects which, just like the Swedish Klarna (now with a banking licence) or the American Square (financed by JP Morgan among others), may gain an outpost within the ongoing banking revolution.

“Banking is in a state of constant transformation – what 10 or 15 years ago would have been defined as a sudden, revolutionary change – is now dealt with every six months. Companies need to come to terms with as the process will get even faster,” says Brunon Bartkiewicz, the CEO of ING Bank, who also has the development program for fintech gems.

In this field, Polish banking has nothing to be ashamed of – the digital offensive is in the DNA of most traditional banks. It’s the result of investments worth of tens of millions of PLN, such as PKO BP’s ZenCard and its loyalty systems, or ING bank’s most recent transaction. The latter invested in the Czech Twisto, which, much like Klarna, has the unique ability to automatically verify the client’s credibility by analysing their Internet data. Companies focused on our region also include Societe Generale, which has the French TagPay and a Singaporean project called Smartkarma under its wing. Bankers, many of whom are planning to attend Impact fintech’17, admit that Poland is a perfect training ground for the innovations in their field. The market does not lack in programmers, the critical mass, or the growing wealth of potential consumers. There is no time to lose – according to Gallup’s studies, which also include Poland, nearly 70 percent of Europeans under the age of 35 are willing to use financial services provided by companies which are not associated with the financial market. When asked about Google, 40 percent of respondents have said “yes”.


Ready for a jump

Transactions performed by touching a smartphone with a payment card? Mastercard, along with its fintech partners, has developed such a technology. The global giant chose Poland for its initial test. The choice was not accidental.

“Poles have proven many times that they are open to innovations in trade and finance, and Poland needs such solutions on its way to become a cash-lite economy. I am proud that together with our partners we can contribute to making yet another technological leap in payments,” states Bartosz Ciołkowski, Mastercard Europe’s country manager for Poland.

The ideas of the American player are supported by the legislative strategies of the Financial Ministry, which involve limiting the cash flow. National institutions have also found success in these areas – the National Clearing House (otherwise known as KIR) is currently commercialising QLIK. The tool enables businesses which issue invoices to send information about payments directly to the electronic bank statements of their consumers. The goal is to make the process simpler, faster, and on time. This mindset is shared by the Warsaw Billin, which includes managers of McKinsey. Here, the game has high stakes – Billon is constructing a new infrastructure for storing banking data. Not in secured safes, or behind antivirus software, but on a public blockchain. One of the Polish banks is currently testing the new method, knowing that they have a truly unique solution on their hands.


Pioneer Arena

Start-ups – they are a powerful magnet, drawing in top-tier bankers towards conferences such as Impact fintech’17. Among the people aware of this fact, there is Megan Caywood, one of the key managers of the British Starling Bank, which, until recently used to be just a local curiosity within the start-up scene. Now, Starling is one of the pioneers of the so-called neobanking industry, with financing of 100 million EUR.

“It doesn’t matter how much data the banks have, and they have a lot of it. What matters is whether, and how they structure, analyse, and utilise it, giving the consumers the feeling that banks are more than just stability, the pay sum and a street sign” says Caywood, who, as a representative of her company, will be one of the stars of Impact fintech’17. Starling Bank utilises the increasingly liberal legislation of some countries, which allow for the integration of banking and non-banking systems at the interface level.

Starling’s team is building its own version of AppStore for application of the fintech variety. Tens of businesses of different sizes, which aspire to join their ranks, have already applied for the conference in Katowice. A few of them will show their accomplishments to the wider public at the designated Startup Arena. They aim high, observing the recent global successes of fintechs such as Wallio, Chime, 10x, or Zelle (the last one being PayPal’s rival supported by a consortium of 30 banks), which are strongly supported by the traditional banking industry. In contrast to the thesis of INSEAD analysts, predicting that fintechs could wipe out as much as 60 percent of profits on banks’ financial products, Brunon Bartkiewicz is convinced that banks have already befriended the technological revolution.

Impact fintech’17 will consist of 10 tracks which drive the fintech industry: AI, data & algorithm based innovation; banking revolution; payments; alternative finance & lending; legal & regulatory; distributed ledgers; insurtech; e-commerce; cybersecurity and investments.

For more information about Impact fintech’17 go to the event’s website

How to join the event?

You can register for Impact fintech’17 here.

Free tickets are available for the academics, public administration representatives, NGO NGO, media, startups.

Text adapted into English from