Ukraine is already setting trends in global fintech
December 22, 10:00 Company news Share:
Valery Kondakov, CEO of the service company UNITY-BARS
Despite the difficulties of wartime, Ukrainian IT remains powerful. Domestic specialists not only maintain their reputation in the global market, but also continue to create innovative products. Valery Kondakov, CEO of the service company UNITY-BARS, one of the pillars of Ukrainian Fintech, explained how this is possible, despite — or thanks to — the challenges.
— The end of the year is a good opportunity to look back and analyze your own achievements. What are you especially proud of this past year?
— We did not set over-ambitious goals for ourselves that would be impossible to achieve. For all of us now the goal is the same — victory. On the scale of our company, this means maintaining the team and clients, implementing important projects and, of course, helping the Armed Forces of Ukraine. One of the important events this year for us was the launch of the new NBU electronic payment system SEP-4 — an analogue of the European SEPA. From a business perspective, this is not so much a profitable project as a critically important one for the state.. This is a significant step towards Ukraine’s European integration and adaptation of the Ukrainian financial market to EU rules.
But we completed the minimum program from a commercial position. In particular, we launched our own AML project — a solution for combating money laundering. We expect great demand for it, because, in fact, all financial institutions need it to comply with legal requirements.
— You use AI functionality in your AML product. Artificial Intelligence has become the word of the year and the technology everyone is talking about lately.. What potential does AI have in fintech, one of the most regulated areas?
— The potential is really great. It is worth understanding that it is unlikely to radically change the principles of fintech operation, but it will transform many processes. So, at the everyday level, most of us have already worked with applications that use AI. This can work similarly in banks.. A simple example — transaction analysis. Conventionally, now the specialist should study the table with the turnover of the account. Artificial intelligence can save many hours by immediately drawing attention to translations that require more detailed human analysis.
— Your company has been in the IT service market for more than 30 years. What are the specifics of the developer-customer relationship in the fintech industry and what lessons have you learned from your experience?
— Quite often the following rule works: those who have a good idea do not always have the means to implement it, and vice versa. Good ideas usually require considerable investment for a high-quality result.. Therefore, it is sometimes difficult to compete with other service businesses that underestimate the cost of development without fully understanding the complexity of fintech projects. And here customers need to explain the importance of the competence of those who will implement the project. A good example is tenders of Western businesses. They usually require a lot of evidence of professionalism, such as industry certifications and the like.. Although this may seem like bureaucracy, in practice it guarantees expert execution, rather than a “crude” product that someone else then has to redo.
— Classic outsourcing—essentially, resale of engineers’ man-hours—does not provide additional value to customers. What advice would you give to IT service businesses that want to deliver more value to their customers?
— It’s worth at least retaining and developing your team, analyzing the competencies of your colleagues. When there is an understanding that you have people capable of implementing your own product, plan and do it, or at least start doing it. This way you can gradually move away from classic outsourcing. The latter can be compared to repairs in garages: they may fix your car cheaper there, but will it be done reliably and efficiently? The service station, of course, has a higher bill, but there you can be sure that the work will be carried out by specialists who know exactly what they are doing. And your product is a long-term success story, while one or two large clients are not forever.
Therefore, to develop towards your own product, you need more than just developers. The team requires business analysts, sales and marketing specialists, support, etc.. d. At the same time, it is important to maintain flexibility in order to quickly respond to market changes. If we are talking about expanding the service and product business, then this requires, at a minimum, feedback from existing clients, development of the team’s expertise, and a willingness to adapt their offers to different markets and invest in their promotion.
— In what direction is global fintech moving? Can Ukraine, with its amazingly digitalized financial sector, become a global trendsetter?
— The course has not changed yet — digital and cryptocurrencies are developing, and their regulation is becoming more serious. This is a plus for us, because we are working on this already today, while the war that is being waged in the digital space is pushing us to strengthen digital security. Therefore, Ukraine is already setting trends in global fintech, while other countries now do not have our challenges and are slow. Soon they will be forced to catch up, which means coming to us for our products.
— The IT talent market has changed significantly due to the full-scale war: now there are significantly fewer vacancies than candidates. Is the situation the same in the fintech sector? How do you find and develop your own specialists?
— We continue “ chase” candidates, because we need highly qualified and specialized specialists. In the case of fintech, it is not enough just to be good at certain technologies — you also need to understand the financial sector. Therefore, we, in particular, cooperate with universities to expand their educational programs, and also have our own educational projects for technical specialists in order to immerse them in the financial sector. We also invest a lot in the development of the soft skills of our colleagues — in particular, in communication skills, negotiations, understanding of the market and industry, etc.
— What are your wishes for clients, partners and competitors in the new year?
— My wish is simple — victory and peace. I wish you to remain positive in your heart: we will rebuild everything, defeat the enemy, and everything will be fine.