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Fintech Evolution

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Fintech Evolution

How has fintech transformed the financial sector?

Martijn de Wever: Fintech companies have excelled in providing a better customer experience with less use of human capital.

Financial firms continue to struggle with information overload and too many legacy systems that don’t communicate with each other – generating a form of ‘data spaghetti’. In applying technology to capitalise on the ton of data that has been captured, Fintech companies are adding value to data that the sector has not been utilising. This use of complex data together with more transparent and user friendly experiences is driving change in the sector as a whole.

As a pioneering fintech entrepreneur, what are the key elements of a successful product?

Martijn de Wever: A great product excels in user experience by putting the user at the centre. Distillation of the actual problem you are looking to solve is essential, and simplicity of information is key.  Too many people take the current status quo as a starting point, which is wrong. You should free yourself from any preconceptions and just try to find the best solution for a problem – and if that is close to the current reality, then that is great. If not, you reshape the reality but never compromise on usability.

Martijn de Wever

Martijn de Wever

How do your products achieve stand out in the increasingly crowded fintech market?

Martijn de Wever:

Design advantage

Floww is a unique combination of finance, technology and design. Too many fintech companies forget that user experience and design should be an integral part of their business. The touch and feel of the product and the insight that the user can gain from the system, is completely unique and unprecedented. The clean and clear interface and smooth interaction supports the whole process and experience.

Technology

Floww has been built in Microsoft Azure, maximizing usage of the Microsoft stack and more. It’s multi-tenant design makes it possible to pave the way for a new infrastructure of tomorrow whereby financial institutions can more freely communicate with their clients as well as collaborate with other institutions. The system capitalises on years of R&D and makes use of pieces of technology that are lightyears ahead of anything currently out there. To see the system come to life in the browser (meaning no integration for clients) is an exhilarating experience.

Functionality

Floww is not just a system for one user – it is a whole eco-system straight out of the box. Institutions can now manage their assets, clients and employees all within one system in one unique beautifully designed language. Business intelligence is naturally a product of just working with the system and is no longer left to the demise of back-office functions within organisations. Managers gain instant realtime insight in the assets under management. The front-office can slice and dice their clients and understand the constitution of the client wallet. Investors finally get to speak the same language as their financial institution. Floww makes complex matter understandable, and lets the users play with data in real-time and with the utmost ease.

What do you look for in design and development partners?

Martijn de Wever:  A pure creative collaboration was needed with a team that has experience working with interfaces of tomorrow. We strive to work with the best in class and have thoroughly enjoyed bringing talent of different disciplines into one room. An eye for detail and no compromises on user experience, stood at the foundation of the company. When you are doing something truly unique it forces the technology team to learn on their feet and built controls and solutions from the ground-up. There are no best practices when you go first – it is a continuous adaptation and tests the growth mindsets of every team member involved. I believe organisations extend further than the boundaries of a defined entity and design and development partners are part of the same journey.

What is the principle design consideration that underpin a good experience?

Lee Fasciani: The fundamental principle of design is communication. By understanding both the ambition of the product and the target audience (end users), we start to formulate a design solution that puts the user at the heart of the product. Our work will always be validated by user experience and their comprehension of the product. And, as we are breaking new ground, inventing new ways of visualising and manipulating data, it’s critical to keep the user front of mind.

How do you balance the need for simplicity with the inherent complexity of data sets?

Lee Fasciani: We’re designing the product to be used by a wide variety of people, from those with high technical knowledge to those with little exposure to technology in this sector. With this in mind, our approach to representing data is underpinned by common visual metaphors, line graphs, bar charts, colour, scale comparison, etc., to ground the experience in some sense of familiarity. The product then comes to life in how the user can manipulate these visuals in a myriad of ways including time and 3D space to give a unique sense of control. When initially briefed by Martijn he really wanted to empower the user with the technology and we’ve always used that as one of the guiding principles of the user experience. One key aspect of the work we’ve done is to allow the user to focus on any particular aspect of the data then give them the ability to discover more information through an additional interaction, essentially layering the complexity. This creates a system where the user can discover more information as and when they wish.

In summary, these digital platforms are great enablers because they allow for data to be physically manipulated, creating a real sense of tangibility to the information and allows the optimal level of complexity to surface as and when the user needs it.

How has the fintech sector changed since you first started working in this field

Lee Fasciani

Lee Fasciani

Lee Fasciani: The first product we worked on was Force Over Mass, an investment portal that launched in 2016. It brought an easy and sophisticated visual representation of financial data to private investors on a mobile first platform that was unprecedented in financial sector products at the time.

Today, fintech product are proliferating and specialising, adding real value to both private and professional users. And there are now a lot more financial services that are providing more user friendly products. In that sense, the effort to productise the personal banking and investment process has led to improvements in user experience design across the sector.

Is the financial sector embracing and adopting fintech?

Martijn de Wever:  Yes there is a very strong awareness that the world of finance has to adapt or risk becoming irrelevant. The larger organisations become the more counter-intuitive and innovation-averse they become, which is logical. As organisations grow, rules need to be put in place to keep control over the growing number of complexity, processes and people. Innovation – de facto – means breaking the status quo which is exactly what people in organisations are incentivised and trained NOT to do. The surge in fintech companies is putting the problem at the top of the agenda. Dealing with legacy systems, is however slowing that migration to the new world of excellent user experience. This is the reason that we created a system that can fit on-top of the existing infrastructure if they choose to – helping the organisation with the slow transformation and re-education of their workforce.

What are the trends / technologies driving the sector?

Martijn de Wever: Customers are expecting the same experience that they are used to in other aspects of their life. Combining this with a way of capitalising data that is untapped and complying to the latest regulation, gives Floww a truly unique position in the market and we think we are spot-on with the trend. Having set up a VC firm before setting up Floww, I would be more than willing to go into the latest trends in detail but I will leave that perhaps for another time.

Lee Fasciani: From a design perspective, the big trend is really about access to data in general.  Because the average person needs clarity in a more digestible and understandable way, visual interfaces have become increasingly popular. We see a proliferation of applications and platforms that help to tell the story of performance, but not necessarily with any real level of depth.

Underneath all that, data security, trust, transparency and integrity are paramount for the end user when deciding on platforms or products. For businesses, technology can facilitate compliance and increase efficiencies.

What’s the biggest challenge to working with entrepreneurs in the tech sector?

Lee Fasciani: It’s about pushing the limits of what’s achievable in terms of optimising the interplay between technology, experience and design. All the entrepreneurs we work with share a common vision; they want to create a product that disrupts sector conventions and pushes the limits of what’s possible. As creative thinkers and product designers it’s always exciting to think up new, future-facing concepts for a product but the real challenge is being able to align these ideas with the ambition of the client, the available technology and the user at the centre of the experience. Our designs often mean developers have to come up with new technical solutions. so everyone needs to be on board from the start.

Martijn de Wever: CEO and founder, Floww

With 20 years of experience in trading and risk managing Financial products and derivatives, Martijn’s experience at several global banks allowed him to recognise a key gap in the market. A technologist, tech investor and serial entrepreneur with a proven track record in successfully leading and growing companies after founding innovative Venture Capital firm Force Over Mass in 2013.

A new and distinct venture and solution, Floww is Martijn’s vision for a streamlined modern financial ecosystem.

Floww

Lee Fasciani: Creative Director and founder, Territory Projects

Leading a team at the junction of innovation, technology and brand, Lee’s expertise lies in marrying future interface concepts with real-world technologies to create rich human-centred digital experiences. With over 17 years of experience, Territory Projects’ clients come from FinTech, consumer technology, health and wellness products, travel, entertainment, and property development.

territoryprojects.com

Interviews

Supporting Growth in Africa

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Supporting Growth in Africa 1
Jules Ngankam Group Chief Executive Officer African Guarantee Fund

Jules Ngankam Group Chief Executive Officer African Guarantee Fund

Despite the internationally recognized importance of SMEs, African small businesses often have difficulties accessing financing for growth and innovation from the formal financial sector. SME financing is often considered by many financial sector players in Africa to be a risky activity as promoters quite more often than not, fail to come up with the collateral levels required to secure bank facilities. Enterprises (SMEs) are widely recognized as big drivers of economic growth, innovation, regional development and job creation. A strong and vibrant SME sector provides a strong foundation to increase standards of living and to reduce poverty. African Guarantee Fund is a non-bank financial institution whose objective is to promote economic development, increase employment and reduce poverty in Africa by providing financial institutions with guarantee products and capacity development assistance specifically intended to support SMEs in Africa. Jules Ngankam is Group Chief Executive Officer of African Guarantee Fund (AGF), and recently he spoke to Global Banking & Finance Review about today’s business challenges in Sub Saharan Africa, and the financial implications combatting the Coronavirus pandemic. Jules has over 15 years of experience in banking and financial services with leading financial institutions. He joined African Guarantee Fund in 201 3 as the Chief Financial Officer after which he served as Deputy CEO from April 2017 and was thereafter appointed Group Chief Executive Officer in September 2020.

  1. What conditions led to the creation of African Guarantee Fund?

The Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) sector contributes significantly to developing African economies, but it still has a huge unexploited capacity for growth. SMEs make up approximately 80% of Africa’s private sector firms, with 50% being small- scale and 30% being medium-sized. SMEs contribute over 50% of new jobs in Sub-Saharan Africa however, only approximately 20% to the GDP. This is compared to 40-60% of GDP in the EU and the US and even higher rates in growing Asian economies.

For the SME to really play their role of the engine of growth, among other barriers, access to finance remains the strongest obstacle. According to analysts the SME financing gap in the continent is estimated at USD 300 billion.

The acknowledged reticence of the banking system in financing SMEs, especially as regards to the investment needed for development for this class of businesses, is mainly explained by:

  • Low Banks’ long-term deposits; The inability of the SMEs to provide
  • acceptable guarantees and collateral; Inadequate equity for SMEs;
  • SMEs’ poor quality of management.

The African Guarantee Fund for Small and Medium- sized Enterprises (AGF) was established in 201 2 to address the mismatch in the supply and demand of SME financing in Africa.

The aim of AGF is to reduce the risks assumed by the financial sector by sharing these risks through the provision of financial guarantees that mitigate the inability of SMEs to provide acceptable collateral.Supporting Growth in Africa 2

AGF also offers capacity development to financial institutions to improve SMEs’ financial product offerings, by helping banks to better address working capital and long-term financing needs of SMEs; and increasing Banks’ capacity to appraise SMEs by providing technical assistance and strategy to further develop their business.

AGF is a truly public-private partnership involving donors, development institutions, financial institutions and private investors joining forces to support African SMEs.

  1. Can you tell us about the guarantees AGF offer to address the range of financing needs?

AGF offers four main types of guarantee products:

Loan Individual Guarantees

Loan Portfolio Guarantees

Bank Fund Raising Guarantees

Equity Guarantees

The Loan Individual Guarantee guarantees a single loan made by a bank to a single Borrower whose identity is known. The Loan Portfolio Guarantee guarantees a portfolio of loans made by a bank to a borrower segment for which the qualifying criteria have been defined but the individual borrowers are not known at the time of the guarantee agreement. The guaranteed party is not required to get approval of AGF prior the placement of each loan under the guarantee.

The Bank Fund Raising Guarantee guarantees bonds issued by a bank to investors for the purpose of raising long-term resources to finance SMEs.

The Equity Guarantee is issued to cover equity investments in SMEs.

  1. What is the scope to use guarantees?

The most important criteria of AGF’s guarantee is that the end beneficiary has to be an SME.

  1. How does African Guarantee Fund enable banks in Africa to execute their SME strategy?

In Africa, the main source of financing for SMEs is the banking sector. Despite Banks’ increasing interest to provide services to SMEs, they face multiple challenges mainly due to issues of assessing and managing risks. Furthermore, the resources of banks and financial institutions are mostly short-term, and it is therefore difficult for the banking system to easily use their current excess of liquidity to finance the needs of SMEs. Finally, the inability of SMEs to provide acceptable collateral to reduce the lending risks associated to them, the inadequacy of their capital structure and sometimes the poor quality of their management increase the reluctance of the banks to fully support their activities.

AGF products assist financial institutions to scale up their SME lending activities in situation where SMEs are unable to meet collateral requirements; Improves the solvency (regulatory capital) ratios of banks and thus enables them to have a better leverage on their capital; Addresses regulatory requirements of banks’ limited use of short-term resources to finance medium and long-term SME needs; Allows banks to mobilize medium and long-term resources at very competitive price.

  1. How is the AGF opening up financial opportunities and supporting the growth of SME customers?

The challenges SMEs face in Africa are within five key areas:

Access to finance

Infrastructure

Access to markets

Human resources

Legal environment and corruption

Amongst these challenges, the biggest one is that of accessing finance.

The SME financing gap is brought about by the following gaps:

Information gap: SMEs lack historical data to enable them to adequately assess their risks due to the fact that most of them do not practice proper book-keeping.

Tenor gap: Banks have short-term resources while the SMEs need more of long-term resources to grow.

Collateral gap: Banks have tough collateral requirements.

Product gap: Bank products are sometimes not adapted to SMEs’ business cycles.

Skills gap: SMEs are unable to attract or afford required talent.

Perception gap: This is the gap between the perceived risk and the real risk.

AGF’s guarantee products and capacity development assistance are designed to tackle the financing challenge by being the missing link between the lending institutions and the SMEs.

  1. What improvements have you brought about in the SME sector since you began operations?

Since AGF began operations, the company has delivered in:

Improving lives in Africa

AGF has supported more than 25,000 SMEs.

SMEs that benefited from AG F guarantees have generated an additional revenue of USO 4 Billion. Approximately 50% of supported SMEs are located in rural areas.

20 Million people were able to access clean energy thanks to SMEs supported by AGF guarantees.

Fostering Jobs Creation

130,000 Additional jobs created

Fighting Climate Change

Cutting 3.8 million tons of C02 equivalent Greenhouse Gas (GHG) 57,005 KW Cleaner generation capacity installed

101 Partner Financial Institutions and 291 SMEs Trained

Promoting Gender Equality

USD 522 million Loans granted to 6,000+ women-led SMEs

328 women-led SMEs Trained

Contributing to Africa’s Competitiveness USO 780 million loans granted to 3,400+ SMEs in the Energy, Infrastructure and Manufacturing Sectors

Contributing towards Food Security

USD 188 million loans granted to 2, 100+ SMEs in the Agriculture Sector.

Partnering for Poverty Reduction

USD 2.5 billion private capital made available in 40 Countries

  1. What are your plans to increase financing to agricultural and renewable energy SMEs in Africa?

In 2015, AGF with support from the Nordic Development Fund, launched the Green Guarantee Facility (GGF) to ease access to finance for SMEs to invest in climate and green growth-oriented economy.

The Green Guarantee Facility brings direct benefits in terms of climate change mitigation and adaptation as well as sustainable employment, poverty reduction, and gender- inclusive financing opportunities.

From the banking sector point of view, green finance is a new sector, of which SME lenders are not very familiar. Besides, SMEs are also not well versed with knowledge and skills to design and manage climate-friendly projects, let alone access to green funding. There exists significant knowledge and capacity gaps in green finance, which the GGF technical assistance addresses.

To-date, AGF in partnership with the Nordic Development Fund and the International Trade Centre has hosted five Green Finance Conferences and subsequent trainings in Zambia, Kenya,

Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire and Senegal.

  1. In November, Fitch Rating confirmed the African Guarantee Fund for Small and Medium- sized Enterprises Ltd’s (AGF) Insurer Financial Strength (IFS) Rating at ‘AA-” (Very Strong), what does this rating mean for the company?

The biggest asset of a guarantee fund is its credibility. The main criteria defining AGF’s credibility is its rating. The rating brings a very strong comfort to our partner financial institutions when assessing AGF’s capacity to assist them in improving their profitability, liquidity and solvency in order to meet the expectations of their shareholders and the requirements of the regulators.

AGF’s rating brings huge benefits to our partner financial institutions:

It provides a higher capital relief to banks as it reduces the required amount of loan provisions.

Allows banks to raise capital at a better cost;

Increases the asset quality of banks’ loan portfolio.

Improves the banks’ Risk Weighted Assets (RWA)

  1. Has AGF had to adapt operations as a result of COVID-19? What are some ways AGF is responding and assisting businesses and individuals during this critical time?

COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect African SMEs and has deteriorated their creditworthiness.

As a consequence, the reluctance of financial institutions to finance SMEs has increased.

It is crucial to provide external stimulus to financial institutions so that they can continue to support SMEs in this unprecedented crisis.

AGF launched a COVID- 19 product that aims to:

Reduce the uncertainties faced by financial institutions in Africa as a result of the global coronavirus pandemic.

Provide more comfort to financial institutions to restructure facilities that become non- performing because of COVID-19.

Provide commercial stimulus to the financial sector with the objective of mitigating the deterioration of SMEs ‘ perceived risk.

Provide technical assistance to financial institutions to enhance their risk assessment approaches to better analyze the impact of the pandemic and reduce the SMEs’ risk perception gap.

  1. In your opinion, what role should financial institutions take to support the social economic development in Africa?

Financial institutions need to increase their support to SMEs by increasing SME lending and designing products that are better adapted to SMEs’ needs.

  1. Are you launching any new products and where do you see AGF in 5 years?

We are constantly improving our product offering to better serve SMEs and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Our new products mostly follow a thematic approach to close financing gaps in climate finance, women finance, agribusiness, etc.

In 5 years, we see AGF covering all countries in Africa, dealing with most of African banks and managing a guarantee portfolio of USO 5 billion.

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Interviews

seedtag’s Co-CEOs discuss their most recent acquisition success

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seedtag's Co-CEOs discuss their most recent acquisition success 3

By Albert Nieto, Co-CEO of seedtag & Jorge Poyatos, Co-CEO of seedtag

Q: What does the acquisition of Recognified mean for seedtag?

The acquisition of Recognified is a highly strategic move for seedtag as Recognified is the contextual advertising leader in Germany. It has greatly impacted our business, specifically in three different ways. Firstly, it has consolidated our European leadership which has allowed us to expand our contextual solutions to Germany, the second-largest European market in advertising spend. Secondly, it has reinforced our contextual AI (Artificial Intelligence) technology, strengthening our computer vision capabilities. Last but not least, it now means we can push our ambitions even further to consolidate more companies under seedtag’s umbrella, embedding us as a global leader in contextual advertising.

Q: How will this expand seedtag’s services and technologies?

In terms of services, seedtag offers several contextual solutions, which are completely integrated into the content. We are currently expanding our options so that our clients can move from delivering contextual advertisements in-image and in-video, and also in-article and in-screen. The key is to allow our proprietary contextual AI to optimise among a different set of placements, depending on which is going to be a more effective way of respectfully catching the attention of users.

In terms of technology, our contextual AI has incorporated the strong computer vision capabilities of the technology built by Recognified. The combination of computer vision and Natural Language Processing algorithms allows our technology to be extremely precise when categorizing online content and determining its brand safety, which is absolutely critical for our clients.

Q: What is contextual advertising and why it’s so important in modern marketing?

Contextual advertising is a form of targeted advertising in which the content of an advertisement is in direct correlation to the content of the website page the user is viewing. We have applied AI to our digital advertising to develop our most advanced contextual analysis technology. Today, our algorithm has been learning for more than seven years, enabling us to offer the most powerful contextual AI on the market. Furthermore, we offer advertisers an effective alternative to the use of cookies by targeting users based on their real-time interests.

More and more players are positioning themselves in this sector to meet the demand of internet users, authorities and advertisers, so contextual advertising represents a growing share of the market worldwide.

Q: What’s the next step for seedtag? Will seedtag continue its international expansion?

Seedtag has a lot of growth opportunities ahead. Contextual advertising will keep developing in the coming years and we must be sure that we can offer the best product and service to our clients to capitalise on this growth. Organic growth is our number one priority.

Today we are leaders in Europe and Latin America, but our ambition has been to be global since day one. We will definitely continue to analyze both organic and inorganic opportunities to continue our international expansion, mainly to the United States.

Q: How do you see the advertising market, regardless of your technology, in 5 to 10 years?

It’s not easy to predict how such an innovative sector like advertising and the technology around it will look like in 10 years. However, there are some clear trends that we believe we will see over the next few years.

Media consumption across the globe is increasing across many digital platforms and this will only keep growing. The more time we spend online, the bigger the share of investment for digital advertising there will be.

Relevancy and attention will become the true currency in advertising. Only the brands and solutions that will be able to respectfully catch the attention of users and be relevant to them will survive in the long run.

We also foresee an increase in market duplicity. On the one hand, we will have the ‘walled garden’ platforms led by Google, Facebook, and sooner than later Amazon as key players. Alternatively, we will have an open internet that will be very relevant in terms of time spent but will have higher challenges in terms of addressability. Seedtag is moving towards being one of the key players in the open internet to help brands win the attention battle in a privacy-first world.

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Interviews

Bank CenterCredit – the best bank for business in Kazakhstan

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Bank CenterCredit is recognized as the best bank in Kazakhstan for work with small and medium-sized businesses according to the results of research by the international rating publication GLOBAL BANKING & FINANCE REVIEW. To answer how the financial institution managed to earn this award and establish itself as the best in the market for SMEs, we interviewed the Chairman of the Bank`s Management Board, Galim Khussainov.

Galim Khussainov, Chairman of the Management Board, Bank CenterCredit

Galim Khussainov, Chairman of the Management Board, Bank CenterCredit

Galim Abilzhanovich, the title of the best bank for SMEs speaks of a serious tilt of the Bank towards entrepreneurship, is BCC a bank for business?

Not really. Bank CenterCredit is a universal financial institution, and a significant part of its portfolio is devoted to retail. But we have traditionally strong and reliable relations with business. If a businessman comes to our service, we always have something to offer him. Starting from the opening of an account, we carefully guide the entrepreneur throughout his time at the BCC. The accumulated experience and rich product line allow us to make his business and cooperation with the Bank comfortable and profitable as we are always ready to support you with practically zero service cost, inexpensive loans and high deposit rates. Also, I would not divide our bank like a pie, as many banking divisions are investing in the success of our SME clients, which cannot be listed in the interview.

What do clients look for when choosing a particular financial institution?

Every year people are becoming more financially literate. You can get information about the bank by opening just a few websites. It is enough to have the Internet and some free time. All key indicators are available in open sources. It is also easy to compare service and product line fees. Well, no one has disregarded the opinion of colleagues and friends who already have experience of cooperation with one or another financial institution, often their opinion is key, because these people have already experienced the quality of services of our bank. There is also advertising and marketing, and potential customers should see high-quality and conscientious bank advertising, where certain services and products are presented interestingly. Another important factor is the amount of time that the bank has been on the market, the ratings of independent agencies and the compliance with the Regulator’s standards. Our Bank is already 32 years old, we have successfully survived several global financial crises, and we continue to work successfully despite the slowdown in business activity associated with the Covid-19 pandemic. This is thanks to a balanced approach, a somewhat conservative policy in terms of risks, as well as with the appropriate indicators, including the NPL.

Based on your words, it becomes clear why Bank CenterCredit was recognized as the best bank for SMEs in 2020. What else, besides the above, was offered to business clients last year?

First of all, we continued to work in the same way that has worked previously, while trying to improve and speed up the existing processes as much as possible. Plus, under strict quarantine conditions, we considered all incoming applications from financially impacted applicants and provided deferrals for payments to everyone whose business was affected by the pandemic. During this time, Bank CenterCredit also continued to actively lend to SMEs, which helped a lot of organizations to survive. Despite the decline in business activity, we continued to develop new services and products with an pivot to online service. Thanks to the effective Internet banking and the multifunctional mobile application StarBusiness, customers performed transactions without visiting the Bank’s branches. In terms of new products, it has been a record-breaking year. If I may, I will tell you about them in the order they are listed:

Let’s start with the “Number”:

Online opening of a current account for business clients – now there is no need to visit a Bank branch to open an account.

Online opening of deposits is also a very useful service, both in isolation and in everyday life.

Online issuance of guarantees within the limits through the Internet banking system is an indispensable tool for entrepreneurs participating in tenders.

Online opening of a blank limit for issuing tender guarantees through the Internet banking system is also a very useful and relevant product, when it is possible to make payments even without funds on the account.

“Growing Business” loan for legal entities and individual entrepreneurs is a very convenient and profitable loan product for small business.

The program of portfolio subsidies and guarantees – for lending to small entities, including micro-entrepreneurship within the framework of the State Program for Support and Development of Business “Business Road Map – 2025”.

We are also long-term partners with foreign financial institutions such as the Asian Development Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.

Within the framework of cooperation with the EBRD, in 2020 tranches were carried out under the SME support program, as well as another large-scale project – “Women in Business”. This one-of-a-kind program was created specifically to support women entrepreneurs.

An agreement on unfunded risk participation was signed between BCC and the EBRD, and not so long ago the financing of the first project in this direction was carried out.

Given the difficult situation in the economy sector, does the Kazakh government somehow help domestic business?

Of course, the state provides all-round support to entrepreneurs, and we, for our part, fully support the anti-crisis measures of the country’s government, putting the needs of the SME sector at the forefront. From the very beginning, Bank CenterCredit actively participates in almost all government programs implemented by DAMU Entrepreneurship Development Fund JSC, regularly receiving awards from this organization. Indeed, in cooperation with this fund, a huge number of projects in various sectors of the economy have been financed. At the moment we can offer business people loans at a minimum rate of 6% per annum. The loan is issued for investment purposes – up to 20 million tenge, and for replenishment of working capital – up to 5 million tenge. A highly demanded product.

What plans does the Bank set for itself for 2021?

We will move in accordance with the strategy approved by the Board, which, as we see, is bearing its fruit. We very much hope that the epidemic will decline and economic activity will increase significantly. Businesses will start operating at full capacity, people will start traveling, and we need to be prepared to offer them the most convenient services and products for every situation. We are planning an even more serious pivot towards online services, because digital products are truly products of the future.

Nonetheless, we will not forget about those clients who are more accustomed to classical banking services in the offices of the BCC. Now we have branches in absolutely all regions of the country, but the targeted opening of new and modernization of existing branches will continue. It is important for us to be closer to people. Our task is not only to follow trends, but also to create them.

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Bitcoin steams to new record and nears $1 trillion market cap

By Tom Wilson and Stanley White LONDON/TOKYO (Reuters) – Bitcoin hit yet another record high on Friday, and moved within...

What does cybersecurity look like for the financial sector in 2021? 19 What does cybersecurity look like for the financial sector in 2021? 20
Technology1 hour ago

What does cybersecurity look like for the financial sector in 2021?

By Neill Lawson-Smith, managing director at CIS The landscape is changing incredibly fast, with cybercriminals using the most up-to-date technology...

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