‘2021 was an impressive year for the Bulgarian FinTech industry –  more than €130 million were invested in FinTechs, we stepped on the highest FinTech stage in Europe – Money 20/20 Amsterdam. What is more, the Bulgarian government and independent regulators recognised the industry’s role in our economy and now works with the community on a daily basis’ – summarised Valeri Valtchev, Chairman of Bulgarian Fintech Association. 

The Numbers

All in all BFA’s performance in 2021 continued to impress – partnerships straighten, new members joined, opinions on regulation expressed and work recognised by major players in the ecosystem. This is only to show that despite social limitations it is possible to facilitate communication and ease the work between the public, private sector and academia, which ultimately leads to a thriving contemporary industry.

BFA will continue its work as a mediator and trendsetter in the biggest FinTech Hub of Southeast Europe (SEE).

Events

Despite the pandemic in 2021 BFA managed to keep up with events both virtual and on-site.  We participated in numerous webinars and online meetings among which Digital Financial Literacy in Bulgaria – Public Discussion, OECD Financial Education Workshop, FinTech Leaders Podcast, and many more.

Annual FinTech Report 2021 – Release press-conference

For a third consecutive year BFA published an Annual Fintech Report which marked the achievements of the digital finance industry in the country and region of Southeastern Europe. This year issue is very special – it is a collaboration between BFA and more than 20 private and public key FinTech stakeholders in the region, including the Ministry of Finance of the Republic of Bulgaria, the Financial Supervision Commission, the European Commission, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, InvestBulgaria Agency, Paysafe, Paysera, NEXO, Vangavis, and many more. More about it here.

Money 20/20 – a dream come true

On the show in Amsterdam, we were more than 20 Bulgarians who showcased the most prominent FinTech businesses from our country. The initiative was supported by the Bulgarian Small and Medium Size Enterprize Promotion Agency and InvestBulgaria Agency. Visiting Europe’s biggest FinTech event in Europe and organising the biggest Bulgarian FinTech delegation was an important milestone for us, which showed the true potential of our ecosystem.

France FinTech Week 2021

As a co-founder 0f the European Digital Finance Association (EDFA), BFA was invited to participate in a European FinTech meeting on the France Fintech Week 2021. During the meeting in Paris, we set the EDFA’s agenda for 2022 and prepared for French and Czech EU presidencies.

The Role Of Women In Fintech – BFA Study 2021

At the beginning of 2021, we have put a new goal to our ecosystem – to foster the role of women in Fintech in Bulgaria, thus realizing the full potential of Bulgarian society in our industry. At BFA, we want to provide a program of regular events that will include a mix of learning opportunities and community-building talent of women across the FinTech ecosystem.

In April 2021 we have gathered with 14 BFA company members and created the inaugural edition of Women in Fintech Bulgaria Study 2021. The study is aimed at providing a current snapshot on gender equality in the Fintech industry in our country as well as on the challenges and opportunities before the female talent in our ecosystem. More initiatives are about to come. Stay tuned!

Regulatory

In 2021 the Association participated in various regulatory initiatives both on the national and supra-national levels. We took part in public discussions on topics such as the crypto markets in the EU regulation – MiCA, eID,  P2P Lending Sector Industry Standards, Financial Literacy Strategy for Bulgarians, etc. Our regulatory work continues in 2022.

Financial Literacy Strategy for Bulgarians

In 2021 the Bulgarian government passed the first National Strategy for Financial Literacy. The Strategy is a result of more than 40 governmental and non-governmental organizations among which Junior Achievement Bulgaria, Initiative for Financial Education, National Revenue Agency, BFA, the Association of the banks in Bulgaria, etc.

The Strategy contains a specific part devoted to the need of studying digital financial services and products and their positive impact and risks they might pose to the financial system. In addition to the Strategy, an Action plan was approved and measures towards teaching contemporary digital finance implemented.

FinTech Education

FinTech education remained one of the main work verticals of BFA. In the last 12 months, we launched the second year of Finance, Investments and FinTech Masters’s degree programme at the Faculty of Economics and Business Administration at the Sofia University “St. Kliment Ohridski”, and lectured in more than 5 universities and schools across the country, reaching more than 300 university and school students. In addition, we launched the From Zero To FinTech Hackathon. In total, we involved more than 20 FinTech companies in our initiatives.

The FinTech Master’s Degree Programme

For the second year in a row the Faculty of Economics and Business Administration (FEBA) at Sofia University, joined forces with the Bulgarian Fintech Association (BFA) to teach FinTech. Similar to last year’s, the FinTech programme turned out to be the most popular Master’s degree at the FEBA and based on this success will be extended and improved to continue providing the highest quality higher Fintech education in the region. The FinTech programme once again put a focus on the development of digital financial services and products, taking into consideration the Bulgarian fintech success stories.

From Zero to Fintech 

The hackathon was the logical next step of the Master’s degree program in Finance and Investments at Sofia University. It was held in English from 6 – 14 March and provided more than 70 participants with a series of workshops, conducted by some of the most prominent specialists in the field of marketing, sales, and investments in Fintech solutions in Bulgaria and Europe. Legal experts touched on regulations and investors shed light on financing and access to venture capital. The event was fully in English and open to anyone interested in the field of digital finance. The main goal of the hackathon was to help the development of Fintech ideas and business plans in Bulgaria.

The big winner was SAVI who proceeded with the real-life realisation of the business plan.

Community and Partners

Bulgarian Fintech Association continued to attract new members for its causes and grew by 12 members in 2021. Today, we represent 59 organisations interested in FinTech from the region of Southeastern Europe, including 2 universities – Sofia University and VUZF-Sofia. Our relationships with the public and private sector improved and straighten resulting in various partnerships with the Financial Supervision Commission of Bulgaria, Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Education and Science of the Republic of Bulgaria, European Commission, OECD, European Digital Finance Association, etc.

Concluding Words

‘2021 was a fruitful year for FinTech in Bulgaria. It allowed us to grow from a community of like-minded people to a proper cluster, leading the transformation of traditional industry in our country. In the years to come, we will continue our work and give our best not only to sustain Bulgaria’s position of a FinTech Hub in Southeastern Europe but also to lead the digital transformation of Europe‘ – Valeri Valtchev, Chairman of BFA

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