The final round of the Visa Everywhere Initiative (VEI) was held in Fintech Hub of the Astana International Financial Centre (AIFC) as part of the Fintech Summit Astana Finance Days. Twenty teams from Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Singapore and Russia presented their working prototypes and detailed business models in front of the jury, which included independent fintech experts and representatives from Visa, Alfa-Bank, Halyk bank, First Credit Bureau and ABC-I2BF Seed Fund.
The projects of the Visa Everywhere Initiative participants were presented in such areas as financial literacy, financial services for individuals, financial services for small and medium businesses, new technologies and products in insurance (Insurtech), B2B services for the financial sector, mobile financial services for Beeline. By decision of the jury, the following five teams became winners:
– reKassa (Kazakhstan)
– LendingStar (Singapore)
– Nebank.kz (Kazakhstan)
– NumbaPay (Kyrgyzstan)
Nurlan Kussainov, CEO of the AIFC mentioned, “We are very pleased with the results of the program with Visa. We are especially happy with the high evaluation of the program by participant start-ups, mentors and partners. For us, this is a confirmation that we correctly chose the direction, which is support for young innovative companies that will bring the change and fundamental improvements in the financial services of the country and the region.”
Senior vice president and director of Visa’s regional division on the CIS & South-Eastern Europe, Vera Platonova noted, “Today, about 5 billion people worldwide have mobile devices, but almost 2 billion do not have access to reliable and secure financial services. This speaks of the high demand and importance of programs such as the Visa Everywhere Initiative, aimed at finding innovative solutions to help improve financial literacy, access banking services, make safe and fast payments. We are pleased that the first VEI project in Central Asia was successful and generated interest among a large number of participants. All of them showed interesting ideas for solving the future tasks in the field of payments and commerce. We hope that the Visa Everywhere Initiative will become a regular platform for the creation and implementation of Fintech-relevant solutions for the market, which in turn will contribute to the digitalization of the Central Asian economy.”
During the event, discussions were held with the participation of experts from leading Kazakh and international companies. Experts discussed key trends in fintech at the global level, examples of successful models of fintech cooperation between financial organizations and startups, managing and attracting world-class cadres, profitable models for collaboration, conditions for encouraging investments, examples of initiatives around the world that have forced innovation.
All VEI participants get the opportunity to realize their developments and ideas in cooperation with Visa or its partners – banks, insurance companies, mobile operators. Partners of the program are Alfa Bank, Beeline, Centras Insurance, Halyk Bank, Wooppay, Forte Bank, KPMG, Kazpost, Al Hilal Bank, and others.
VEI is a global Visa program to support Fintech startups, which is held for the first time in Central Asia in partnership with AIFC. During the 1.5 months of the application process, from mid-March to late April, 93 applications were submitted for participation in the VEI program in areas from financial literacy to artificial intelligence. Applications were submitted at the idea stage, as well as at the stage of projects ready for implementation. 34 teams from 93 reached the semifinals, which took place on May 23-24 in the Fintech Hub of the AIFC.
For the first time, the Visa Everywhere Initiative started in 2015, and during this time more than 4,000 start-ups participated in the program, 220 finalists received mentoring support, and 70 winners received prizes totaling more than $1 million. Today, VEI startups have attracted more than $2.5 billion in investment.