In response to requests relating to the CEO interview in last month’s newsletter, we asked Nebo Djurdjevic, CEO Digital Serbia Initiative, to tell us a bit more about the Fintech scene in Serbia.
The Fintech Sector in Serbia
By Nebo Djurdjevic, CEO Digital Serbia Initiative
Serbia is a European country outside the EU, with a population of 7 million with a well-developed and mature financial services infrastructure. Fintech is thriving in Serbia. There are several promising startups. It may come as a surprise but, according to Startup Genome, the Belgrade & Novi Sad startup ecosystem is the second-fastest-growing ecosystem in the activation phase globally.
Tech startups enjoy accelerated R&D deduction (2x) and IP Box (3%) tax regimes, meaning they pay almost no corporate income tax. National ICT exports have been growing at an annual rate above 20%, with the government providing strong support – from infrastructure to education.
Global banks with branches in Serbia are likely to develop and test innovative features and products in Serbia before rolling these out internationally. For example, Telenor, a multinational telco operator, has chosen to pilot its mobile bank in Serbia despite being present in 14 other markets, while Raiffeisen Bank International holds its annual regional startup competition in Belgrade.
Global Fintech companies have recognized the country’s potential as well. Ten out of the IDC top 100 Fintech companies have their products developed in Serbia. Some large internationally recognised that companies have their R&D centres in Serbia, such as:- NCR – a global leader in developing transformational transaction technologies, including online banking, POS systems, mobile payments, and omnichannel experience;- FIS – the #1 Financial Technology company on the FinTech100 in 2013 and 2014, an international provider of financial services technology and outsourcing services with over 20,000 clients in more than 130 countries; and- BlackRock – one of the world's largest asset managers, with $6.84 trillion in assets under management.
The future is exciting too – the University of Belgrade’s Faculty of Economics has opened its own incubator, with the aim of fostering innovative tech solutions developed at the university, which is a great addition to the existing system of incubators at tech schools across Serbian universities. This year, another impactful educational initiative was launched, with leading technical and business schools partnering to offer world-class programmes that combine technical and business skills. The first generation of students has enrolled in the state-wide Master 4.0 programme, which is hosted across three universities and features 300+ instructors from Serbian and international universities, as well as more than 70 companies, covering 140+ subjects.
The most successful global Fintech startups with Serbian founders include:- Tradecore – whose innovative Broker IQ product is the leading cloud-based solution for start-up and existing brokers to help them operate and grow their brokerages;- Penta – fast and easy business banking used by more than 4000 businesses in Germany; and- Tenderly – a smart contract monitoring platform with real-time alerts, analytics and troubleshooting tools.
Digital Serbia Initiative (DSI) is a non-governmental organisation with the strategic goal of developing a strong, globally competitive digital economy in Serbia.
Founded by the leading digital players in the country, this non-profit combines the forces of more than 30 member-organisations from all sectors relevant for the growth of a digital ecosystem – including tech, banking, and finance, telco, consulting, legal, education and research, media, pharmaceutical, and startup support organisations.
DSI aims to create a business environment that serves the digital economy by investing in strategic programmes in the areas of formal and informal education, startup ecosystem development, legal and regulatory frameworks, digital infrastructure and public dialogue on digital transformation.
The content of this article does not reflect the official opinion of Edgar, Dunn & Company. The information and views expressed in this publication belong solely to the author(s).