FinTech businesses are among of the fastest developing enterprises in the technology sector today. By 2020, global investments in FinTech will grow from the current level of $24 billion to $46 billion. Traditional financial centres – London, Frankfurt, Amsterdam, Luxembourg – are transforming into financial innovation hubs, reinforcing their respective positions on the financial map of the world. FinTech investments create also opportunities for new or less-significant centres. It is worth analysing how Poland performs in this context.
FinTechs as the future for financial institutions
According to a PwC report, a third of financial services in the world may be taken over by FinTech companies. This will be especially felt in retail banking where 57% of bank customers are inclined to take advantage of technology instead of brick-and-mortar customer service. Almost half of bank customers (47%) aged 20-34 would download a bank application designed to manage credit transactions. Every third bank customer says also that convenience is the most important factor when it comes to choosing solutions helping them manage their finance. Hence, 90% of Millennials get information and opinions about products online, which leads to a dynamic development of web- and mobile-based channels.
Bank institutions try to respond to such needs by coming up with new solutions to make banking easier for their customers. Polish banks number among the global leaders of technological advancement. Over the past four years, they won 24 prizes in 12 prestigious international competitions, including Best of Show or Model Bank Awards. This proves the quality of the services they offer – cloud-based bank accounts, fully mobile transaction system, and mobile cash deposit machines are just a few of all the highlights.
The scale of these services is just as impressive. In Poland, there are over 5 million users of the BLIK system, and 55% of all card payments are contactless. And given Poles’ significant interest in new financial technologies, Google decided to offer its Android Pay mobile system in our country. We were the second country in Europe and the sixth country in the world to use this solution.
Poland as a magnet for investments
The high levels of innovation and economic growth – Poland’s GDP grew by 4.6% last year, with the World Bank forecasting a further 4% growth this year – mean that Poland continues to attract foreign investors, who are the driving force behind business development in this part of Europe. Poland’s FinTech industry is a perfect example in this context. Its value is estimated, according to a report by Deloitte, at €860 million. The industry is known for its innovation in the area of banking and electronic payment solutions, and the businesses operating in it keep on extending the range of services offered. All this makes us a driving force in the CEE region's FinTech industry.
So the fact that EY named Poland the region's 'investment magnet' in its recent European Attractiveness Survey. And in the Global Financial Centres Index ranking, comparing the competitiveness of major financial centres, Warsaw has been ranked 45th in the world and 12th in Europe.
FinTech vs banks
The FinTech industry in Poland differs slightly from that of Western markets. In Poland, the biggest market players in the industry are banks implementing increasingly technologically advanced services. We also have budding start-ups making their way to the FinTech industry, but focusing currently on niche areas such as factoring, offer-comparison systems, and other specialised financial services. Given the effects of globalisation, Polish financial institutions have to compete with foreign FinTechs, gaining an ever-larger share of the global banking system.
The most likely scenario for Poland’s financial services sector assumes a strengthening of cooperation between banks and FinTechs. Joining forces over the years to come will result in a new ecosystem of services, able to respond effectively to modern customer expectations and market challenges. This is promising in the context of an increase in the rate of employment in the FinTech industry.
An attractive job market
FinTech involves a constant emergence of innovative solutions, which creates a demand for new competence and skills, especially in traditional banking. This offers a range of great opportunities to Polish professionals. Services using blockchain or distributed ledger technology will require businesses to employ experts dealing with compliance, regulations, and financial policies. The growing popularity of the so-called mobile wallets will open the doors to many start-ups and IT companies for mobile app developers and programmers as well as for UX (user-experience) designers and Big Data analysts. As for robo-advisors – there will be employment opportunities for human behaviour specialists, robotics experts, and cybersecurity experts. It appears that process automation experts should have no problem finding a job too.
Banking sector professionals seem to consider migrating to the FinTech industry more and more often, a trend that’s been seen on the rise as of late. The traditional banking model is hardly attractive to the Y generation, which is now making increasingly bold steps in the labour market.
Despite the many challenges faced by the FinTech industry, involving, say, the development of the scale of operation, the industry is not as heavily burdened with regulations as banking is. Therefore, FinTechs incur much lower operating costs, which translates into higher earnings of their employees, even 15-20% higher than what traditional banks offer to their employees. For example, a product manager in the industry in question may earn 2,000-3,000 zlotys gross more than a person working at an equivalent position in banking.
A noteworthy fact is that such specialists are a significant factor of Poland’s potential in the development of the FinTech industry. Many of them are world-class professionals, and such talent is quite often sought for by businesses based in the Silicon Valley.