Alyona Degrik: opportunities for fintech products opened by the digital economy in Ukraine

Alyona Shevtsova
4 min readOct 19, 2018

It’s 2018 now, and Ukraine is firmly moving towards the digital economy. We have one of the largest online retailers in Eastern Europe renting a huge area from the state postal service. Mobile wallets with electronic money successfully replaced by mobile banking — one of these products was recently awarded by American Forbes, another received an international award for UI / UX design, and the third has been used by more than 5 years for 3 out of 4 Ukrainians. Google Pay has been working for a long time, Apple Pay started it’s work recently, but already taking records in the supposedly poorest country in Europe. The big increase in the share of mobile payments caused by the active penetration of smartphones and 4G network — many examples can be cited, but the fact remains — right now there are excellent conditions for the development of fintech projects in Ukraine. The question is — what exactly should they be and what tasks to solve?

Solving small, but tangible customer problems

I won’t try to speculate on the Big Data topic — I won’t say anything new, and I don’t see the point of repeating after someone. The thesis «Google knows everything about us» is not so straightforward. Firstly, you also use this knowledge when you start your advertising campaign. Secondly, the growing awareness allows you to clearly know, what the modern user lacks for more efficient management of their money. Any new payment acceptance project should be aimed at:

  1. A very simple solution for 3–4 problems that competitors don’t solve;
  2. Giving the user a little more, than the standard experience of such action: rewards, gamification, awareness, personal management, and so on.

Fintech companies discovers the Ideas for the first and second points from their own experience and on the basis of success/failure in their own and neighboring niches.

Your new product should not «sell the service», but should help users to solve their problem with this service. It seems to be the same story, but in a sweet words — but no, there is a whole gulf between them. And we must be able to move through it.

People are connected more than ever. This is both challenge and opportunity.

And again I start with a beaten-up thesis — «after the appearance of a smartphone, we’re always in touch». These are not just beautiful words, but a phenomenon drastically changing the approach to the development of fintech projects. Continuing the story of «not to sell, but to solve a problem» — this transformation results precisely from a change in user behavior. The speed of information transfer, its consumption, mastering and generating opinions has grown many times. Therefore, demand is formed precisely on the basis of such global networking. Before buying or choosing the best way to pay, customers look at the reviews, popularity, level of communication of a particular brand, conditionally marking it in the head as «cool» or «meh». Therefore, it’s very important to use this global connection between your customers, to become part of their «question-answer» chain, solving problems. You must study inquiries, discussions, be aware of all trends — and then you won’t lose.

Saving time is one of the strongest benefits of your product.

One of the main competitive advantages for fintech products is the ability to save time for the user. No need to go to the bank to open a deposit — there is mobile banking for this. Paying a utility bill at the post office — no, thank you. For more than 10 years, terminals have been doing this, then payment sites, and now mobile apps and even chat bots. Pay for parking, p2p money transfer, book and buy movie tickets — all this can be done through a smartphone, and this will save you some time. Modern user suffers from his chronic lack of time, and then every saved minute after a typical operation is an additional advantage. That is why it’s very important for every product that works with money to be as simple as possible, not just safe.

For success and creating a loyal customer base, it’s critical to bring automation of the payment process to the level of simple confirmation. A modern customer is ready to trust personal data if it’s under reliable protection and will be used to solve his/her typical payment tasks by default. We see it on the cases of Uber, Masterpass, Apple Pay, etc.

Saving time — it’s also a big deal for new smartphones features. In addition to the obvious NFC-modules, I must say about QR codes — I wrote about it earlier. Camera scans the code — and the payment is done. It’s potential for offline retail is still not properly realized in Ukraine — for now.

And thanks to the described connectivity, your solution will be known and popular. And no, it doesn’t mean at all that it’s not necessary to invest money in advertising. «Buzz marketing» of new formation of demand — this is only part of the work. The further outcome of users in digital and in cashless will change not only the customer, but first of all the business itself. Transparency, active communication and maximum willingness to change — without these qualities, any fintech company will remain an outsider. And nobody wants such a fate.



Alyona Shevtsova

CEO of the international payment system LEO, the shareholder of IBOX Bank