2 years of iBanFirst in the CEE region: Romania is in the top 3 markets with the highest adoption rate of fintech services among companies

  • Romania is in the early majority phase, where more than 50% of SMEs now collaborate with fintechs for fast and cost-effective foreign exchange and international payment solutions.
  • Over the last 7 years, the rise of fintechs offering access to international payments within the local market has translated to substantial savings for Romanian SMEs, amounting to €1 billion annually.
  • During its two years of activity, iBanFirst’s Bucharest office has facilitated international payments totaling more than €1 billion for its Romanian clients.

Bucharest, 11 September 2023: After two years of operating in the CEE region, with an initial office set up in Bucharest and subsequent expansion into Sofia and Budapest, iBanFirst, a leading global provider of foreign exchange and international payments for businesses, has successfully onboarded over 1,000 companies from the CEE area onto its platform, where they can conduct cross-border transactions in more than 30 currencies. Notably, Romania stands out as one of the top three European markets for the company in terms of revenue. The country is positioned in the early majority phase, with approximately 50% of SMEs choosing fintech solutions as an alternative to conventional banks. Considering the cost savings that companies achieve by avoiding traditional service fees, iBanFirst estimates that digital financial services contribute to annual savings of up to €1 billion for Romanian SMEs.

In its two years of activity, iBanFirst’s Bucharest office has facilitated international payments worth more than €1 billion for its Romanian clients, with an annual growth rate surpassing the European average. Moreover, amidst the backdrop of geopolitical crises, economic uncertainties, and extreme currency volatility, Romanian trade companies have increasingly embraced the hedging tools provided by the fintech, which serve to protect their profit margins and grow their business operations within the region. The company projects that the transaction volume in Romania will double in 2023 compared to 2022, with predictions hitting the €1 billion mark.

`iBanFirst’s success story in the CEE region and in Romania is largely due to the people here, who are much more open to new technologies and digital solutions, compared to Western markets, where the uptake of innovative banking practices tends to be slower. Furthermore, the business climate in this region is growing fast, which is driving up demand for cross-border payment solutions in various currencies and tailored risk management strategies`, said Johan Gabriels, Regional Director for South-East Europe at iBanFirst.

The Bucharest office team has grown to 20 consultants, currently serving 400 clients. Every month, around 30 Romanian SMEs open an account on the iBanFirst platform, which enables them to make fast, transparent, and cost-effective payments and foreign exchange operations in over 30 currencies. In addition, each client benefits from a dedicated account manager, who helps them use the platform and grow their business using IBanFirst products that are suited to their needs. 

The Romanian client portfolio includes import-export companies operating in various sectors, from automotive, agriculture, energy, IT and telecommunications to construction and retail. The value of transactions carried out through the platform can range from a few thousand euros to transactions worth millions of euros. Romanian companies primarily engage in trade with foreign partners from the EU, China, and Turkey.

`Romania is enjoying an exponential growth of companies that are expanding their operations in the region. We are delighted to support this trend and help entrepreneurs from various industries to grow their businesses beyond their country’s borders. Our team of specialists is ready to provide local companies with all the support they need to achieve their international goals and overcome the challenges they may face in the process`, said  Alin Latu, Country Manager iBanFirst Romania.

iBanFirst’s platform also meets the needs of large companies working with multiple banking partners by integrating open banking capabilities. These companies can centralise all their financial operations in a single interface (check bank accounts, initiate payments, and exchange currencies), which further simplifies their day-to-day financial operations. The outlook for the development of open banking infrastructure is highly promising, as the global value of payments facilitated by this technology is projected to experience a staggering growth of 2,800% by the year 2026[1].

iBanFirst currently has 13 operational offices in 10 European countries (France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary, Italy, Spain, and the UK) and has been included for the 5th consecutive year in the Financial Times’ top 1,000 Europe’s Fastest Growing Companies. iBanFirst processes transactions worth over €1.4 billion per month across all group-wide operations.

In August of this year, iBanFirst appointed Julien Molez as Chief Operations Officer and a member of the company’s Executive Committee (EXCO). Julien Molez has nearly 20 years of experience in consulting, technology, and artificial intelligence within leading financial institutions. As he takes on the responsibility for all operations at iBanFirst (Know Your Customer processes, transaction monitoring, payments and foreign exchange back-office, banking relationships, and liquidity providers), Julien will use his experience to shape an even more efficient and automated operational model, aimed at simplifying the customer experience while supporting iBanFirst’s growth across its various markets.

[1] https://linas.substack.com/p/fintechpredictions2023