Valeri is a serial entrepreneur and investor. During the last 15 years, he has invested in over 15 companies in Bulgaria, some of which made it from start-ups to well-established ventures. Valeri built successful businesses in IT, financial services, professional services, energy, automotive, real estate, telecoms, and entertainment. In the last couple of years, he’s been focusing on redefining payments by building several fintech companies among which Paynetics, Phyre, and Phos. He is also Chairman of the Bulgarian Fintech Association. He was previously an international lawyer with White & Case in Brussels and Washington D.C.
Can you tell us more about what is fintech for you and what is your fintech role? What excites you the most in the Fintech industry?
Fintech has already infiltrated financial services to such a great extent that it has become a core ingredient of their foundation. Consumers, businesses, and all sorts of financial services firms are increasingly turning to imaginative combinations of software, hardware, and data to create and deliver new and innovative traditional financial products and services. Fintech is firmly entangled in the fabric of our financial society and it appears its influence will only grow in the future.
“A big plus for the Bulgarian fintech sector is that in the last couple of years, both foreign and Bulgarian venture capital funds are more seriously targeted it.”
How do you find the Fintech industry in Bulgaria? What do you think are the greatest opportunities and challenges?
Bulgaria continues to be at the forefront of the most cost-effective fintech locations in the world. The country has a highly developed fintech industry of more than 130 fintech companies operating in nine market segments. The ecosystem includes a growing number of startups, equity funds, business angels, and IT companies offering products and services to fintech companies. With innovation and digitization at its core, the Bulgarian fintech industry is key to the overall efficiency and modernization of the economy. A big plus for the Bulgarian fintech sector is that in the last couple of years, both foreign and Bulgarian venture capital funds are more seriously targeted it.
What role do you think BFA plays in the development of the fintech industry in Bulgaria?
BFA plays a key role in the development of the fintech industry in Bulgaria by creating and developing Fintech Ecosystem and strengthening its role in the Bulgarian financial system. The association facilitates collaboration and development between financial technology companies and acts as a facilitator between market participants, stakeholders, and regulators. The BFA contributes to uniting all interested persons or organizations that work in the field of Fintech.
“The Fintech industry in Bulgaria has reached a reliable stage of development for both local and foreign entrepreneurs.”
Why did you decide to join the BFA Board of Directors? What do you want to achieve during your term on the board?
As a co-founder and Chairman of the BFA, I firmly believe that financial technologies have become an essential precondition for developing the country’s economy, of which there are numerous examples in the modern world. Our mission is to encourage innovation, develop the environment, and thus help Bulgarian fintech companies to stand out globally. The sector continues to develop dynamically and sustainably, and there are many favorable conditions for stimulating entrepreneurship in the sector. The Fintech industry in Bulgaria has reached a reliable stage of development for both local and foreign entrepreneurs.
What are you most excited about seeing in the fintech sector in the approximate future?
The fintech sector is only going to expand and innovate faster and faster. It’s a great time to be working in this industry. The major changes I believe we will see because of advancing financial technologies in the decade to come are that most of the services will be virtual and businesses will connect directly to the customers. I would start with what is called embedded finance – this is the ability to add financial products to companies that have not offered a similar service before. For example, telecommunications companies now offer digital wallets and lines of credit. Second, I would put peer-to-peer as a way of raising capital. We see it in the growing number of companies like Klear Lending, Iuvo, Afranga, etc. Buy-now-pay-later – the ability to purchase goods and consume services in installments without any cost to the end user. Here we see interest even from traditional financial institutions in the country. Creation of new and increasingly attractive, sometimes highly speculative assets like crypto-assets, NFTs, etc.