Fintech Global Tour goes to Greece to find both local & global innovation

Financial markets in Greece

A strained and chocked financial sector, functioning under Capital Controls for two years (this June) that has priced in the probability of a Grexit (for the third time in 7 yrs). All banks, except for Alpha Bank (Euros 1,63), have become penny stocks with National Bank of Greece trading around 0,25 Euros! Eurobank, who was traditionally the aggressive player in the Greek Banking sector, trading around 0,55 Euros.

Necessity is the mother of invention.

Greece has the potential to become a Fintech hub, starting from the necessity to solve many problems that are idiosyncratic to the current conditions. From offering digital identities to immigrants, to issuing a cryptocurrency as a parallel currency, to small Business solutions (working capital, import-export trade etc),….

Greece has been witnessing an accelerated rate of exports of high skilled people (doctors, engineers, programmers etc). Greeks are technically strong and creative; and therefore, an ideal fit to be part of an innovative ecosystem. Funding, regulatory and government support; are the only missing ingredients.

The Fintech process has started shyly in Athens over the past 6 months. The National Bank of Greece launched an accelerator program in November last year, BeFinnovative, which resulted in 9 Fintech startups who are part of the program. Most of the areas are Consumer banking and wealth management (see a list here). Just last week, Interfima and the National Bank of Greece organized the first Fintech Forum in Athens. The event had participants from all over Europe and Chris Gledhill delivered the Keynote with a theme on “Disruption”.

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Athens Old stock exchange; Image byChris Gledhill

Just this past weekend Eurobank held its second BeyondHackathon with more than 130 participants from the Balkan region. Eurobank has a presence in 7 countries. I was honored to deliver the Keynote with a theme “On the Fintech Runway” (you can watch it here) to a packed room.

Eurobank has a full stack digitization roadmap already in place and Sotiris Sirmakezis, who is leading the Digital innovation across the board, has a powerful vision of the transformation journey over the next two years.

Fintech in Greece and out of Greece

The Fintech sector is just emerging but Insurtech is leading! Oseven  is 2yrs old and has taken a behavioral analytics approach to a user-centric telematics insurance offering. Oseven was a winner in the European Fintech awards in 2016 along with Knip, Funding Circle and Kreditech. They have moved their headquarters in London.

In consumer banking, the leader is Viva Wallet. With a rich offering both for retail and for businesses.  It is the first Greek mobile wallet that enables payment in online stores, mobile apps and physical stores. Viva Wallet is branching out into the Balkans and has a roadmap to grow further. Their most recent offering to businesses owners cuts the cost of card processing by 20%. See details here. Viva Wallet also runs an incubator, Viva Nest, that is very active presence in the startup scene.

In wealth management, there are two mature Fintechs that have a global customer base. Logical invest (we have covered extensively in the past) who is a signal provider for DIY investors and who is an example of a decentralized business founded and operated by three partners in three different locations  – Greece, Switzerland, and US. Zulu Trade, is one of the top global social trading platforms.

Fintech list by vertical

Insurtech

Hellas Direct – auto insurance

InsuranceMarket – comparison site

Oseven – Insurance Telematics

Consumer Banking & Small Biz

Viva Wallet – app for payments (retail and business)

BillIt – app for small biz invoice tracking

Elorus – small biz invoice tracking

Early stage

BitforTip – tips with bitcoin

Bcash – Greek Bitcoin ATM

Wealth Mgt

Micro-national: Logical invest

Global Social Trading: Zulu Trade

Early stage

Teastock – ML for stock trading

Echofin – Chatbot for traders

StampD – blockchain based notarization of ownership of any digital asset

Capital Markets

Open Circle Project – equity crowdfunding

Easystarter – donation crowdfunding

Crowdpolicy – Crowdsourcing experts (crowdfunding, apps, hackathons, and more)

Fintech with Greeks

For the Greek diaspora (which is not negligible in size and influence) who wants to follow the Greek Fintech ecosystem, there is a Fintech Greece linkedin group that one can join.

There are plenty of noteworthy Greeks who are part of the international Fintech scene in various capacities, e.g. Leda Glytpis, Spiros Margaris, Nektarios Lolios, and many more.

Fintech a la Greque

I would like to start a wish list of the kinds of innovations that should and could come out of Greece. Please, add on to this wish list:

  • Chris Gledhill: A blockchain voting tech would be good from the birthplace of democracy. A digital Crypto drachma (albeit politically sensitive).
  • Spiros Margaris: The Greek government should internationally promote Greece as a source for highly-qualified tech talent. It would help Greece, and it would help European companies to close the talent gap. That’s what I call a win-win proposition. Greece also ranks very high in the EU in SME innovation (see visual below).
  • My own wishes: A bank for refugees, A HellasCoin – a broad cryptocurrency, an innovative solution for income from illiquid assets (i.e. Greek real estate).

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Daily Fintech Advisers provides strategic consulting to organizations with business and investment interests in Fintech & operates the Fintech Genome P2P Knowledge Network. Efi Pylarinou is a Digital Wealth Management thought leader.

5 thoughts on “Fintech Global Tour goes to Greece to find both local & global innovation

  1. The absence of venture capital and state support of R&D cannot be replaced in contest based promotion of start ups with scarce funds and minimal technical support. There are serious projects of greater importance than those you mention. Serious projects must involve not only some bank seminars but well balanced teams of qualified scientists, financial experts and experienced management. The trend to to leave and go abroad shows the failure of the start up and high tech business in Greece!

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  2. Could the Greek Government issue Digital IDs to Refugees? The tech is there. It is a question of politcal will and legal framework. That Digital ID could start with Refugees but move mainstream later. That could be a game-changer.

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  3. It’s also worth mentioning the influx of sizeable (relative to income per capita) funding from EU into a fund of fund which will trigger the launch of a few VCs in the next couple of years.

    Fintech innovation needs both Fin and Tech talent. So I think a plausible startup model is a cross-border one, where the Fin talent is coming from Greek diaspora (or just people abroad) that have been exposed to cutting-edge innovation and Tech talent in Greece, which is strong and relatively cheaper.

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