To advocate and nurture the rising levels of innovation that have, in recent years, promoted Slovakia as home to some of the most renowned IT developers in the world, three industry leaders have come together to create the official FinTech Hub Slovakia.
Together, the esteemed Slovak Fintech Association, global payments heavyweight, Mastercard and expert software development firm, Vacuumlabs began to unveil the first few glimpses of the new Hub as early as December 2020. So the timely and recent launch of FinTech Hub Slovakia is welcomed with high anticipation. As well as offering members a range of perks, including the use of a physical workspace, the Hub will act as a vital toolbox for founders of start-ups and scale-ups to access the networks, regulatory guidelines and tech support they need to accelerate their ambitions within the region.
Based in Bratislava, Slovakia, this is the first FinTech Hub within the Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) region to be designed with the specific intention of supporting innovation; developing Slovakia as the next global leader of financial technology. And the Hub couldn’t be supported by more appropriate founding members. Mastercard, Vacuumlabs and the Slovak Fintech Association all boast a well-established record of supporting companies that accelerate change in global financial services, forming the very basis of the financial ecosystem.
The creators were first inspired by the regulatory sandboxes successfully implemented across the world; as witnessed in countries from Great Britain to Singapore. “We wanted to choose the best of similarly functioning platforms and combine it under one roof. We build our approach mainly on openness and accessibility,” says Juraj Králik, Executive Director of FinTech Hub Slovakia and Head of the Slovak FinTech Association.
The overarching goal is to support innovation and digitisation in the financial sector within the CEE region. The Hub is looking to grant companies the opportunity to test the validity of their solutions in a secure environment. All the resources required to achieve this will be provided, alongside expert help and advice.
Members of the programme will be able to use the platform in three main directions – technological, legal, and mentoring. They will get priority access to the proprietary testing environment provided by the Hub’s technology partners. They will be able to build faster, more efficient, and successful go-to-market journeys under the guidance of experts. Each selected participant will benefit from a designated mentor who will oversee the progress. And above all, a physical workspace for innovative startups will be based in the heart of Bratislava.
“We are happy to contribute to the development of these goals. We will support those interested not only with the expertise of the Mastercard team, but also with our technologies so that we can speed up the entire process. I’m talking not only about technologies from the traditional card world but also outside it, such as open banking, peer-to-peer payments, solutions using big data or artificial intelligence, user-friendly ways of authentication, tools for better security and more,” explains support members of the hub Mastercard CEO for Slovakia and the Czech Republic and partner of FinTech Hub Slovakia Michal Čarný.
The programme is open to any type of entrant, whether they’re a start-up, scale-up, or well-established company. To get accepted, the Hub is looking for the uniqueness of the product, concept, or prototype as well as the success and suitability of the product for the region.
The Hub will also further assist members in obtaining the necessary licenses required by the sector. “As soon as the company completes the program in the FinTech Slovakia Hub and launches its service on the market, we can guarantee not only technical but also administrative support in applying for the necessary license. This is one of the reasons why the Hub has a neutral built as a neutral platform. We look to uphold and promote the common interests of all market participants. This will contribute to the continuous high-quality innovations appearing on the market”, explains further Juraj Králik.
One of the most interesting and sought-after benefits of the Hub is Slovakia itself. “We are members of the European Union and the North Atlantic Alliance. We belong to the Schengen area and, last but not least, we have the Euro, which is a great advantage over other local Visegrad Four players. The proximity of Vienna is also a great benefit in terms of arrivals and departures. And last but not least, Slovakia has a large number of talented people needed for companies to grow further from here”, concludes Matej Ftáčnik, CXO of Vacuumlabs.