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The number of electronic money institutions (EMIs) operating in Lithuania rose to 40 in 2018, up from 12 just two years earlier, and the sector’s revenues from electronic money issuance and payment services surged to 6.4 million euros, according to Bank of Lithuania statistics. Changing market situation prompted UAB “Kredito uniju namai”, which is a part of Forbis Group, with 64 percent of EMIs as company clients, to change its trading name. From “Kredito uniju namai” it will become “Fininbox”.
“The old name was good while our clients were mainly credit unions. But the market has broadened to FinTechs startups, electronic money institutions, and so on. So rebranding is logical,” said Tadeuš Šturo, the CEO of the subsidiary.
Rapid growth is thanks in part to favourable conditions created by the central bank as the local financial regulator. According to Fininbox’ representative, today 64 percent of the company’s clients are electronic money institutions (EMIs), while 29% are credit unions and 7% are currency exchange operators. They are spread all over the world – in Europe, Asia, and both North and South America, Mr Šturo said.
And EMIs are just one part of the market for Fininbox, which offers full IT solutions for banks, credit unions, payment providers, currency exchange operators and a big variety of FinTech operations from many countries.
“We have clients licenced by the Bank of Lithuania and clients licenced by other countries’ regulators – Malta’s, the UK’s, Ireland’s, and so on. We’re open to everyone, and technically we’re able to serve clients from all over the world,” Mr Šturo noted. He says, that working in close tandem with the Bank of Lithuania, which is part of the Eurosystem, enables it to react quickly to any changes in the market and the rules of the game.
“It’s about meeting the challenges of today’s financial industry in a reliable and cost-effective way,” the company’s CEO stressed. “In a world of rapid change, the approach of renting rather than re-inventing IT can really pay off for institutions of any size, letting them focus entirely on creating value for customers and eliminating many costs and headaches,” he said.
With its new name, Fininbox also plans to expand its range of services. It expects to be the first in Lithuania, for example, to provide automated SEPA Instant credit transfers and SEPA Direct Debit, and among the first with solutions for implementing the EU’s Revised Directive on Payment Services (PSD2). It will also offer anti-money laundering (AML) training and financial accounting for FinTech firms. And Fininbox now powers the Contomobile app for sending, receiving and managing funds with personal and business IBAN accounts – Forbis Group’s own first foray into providing financial services.
Hence the new service offerings. They are in addition to the group’s deep expertise in all kinds of IT integrations, and to the “shared development” model it offers so that multiple clients can split the costs of creating new features they all need or want.
The unit, whose original name meant “House of Credit Unions”, was established to make the Lithuania-based Forbis Group’s powerful FORPOST system, which is used by major international banks, available also to smaller financial institutions on a flexible banking system-as-a-service (SaaS) basis.
Company calls it a ‘banking system-in-a-box’, since it includes everything: software, infrastructure, support and development. It’s a world-class backend, secure and compliant, that costs less, has more features and scales more easily than any system that a smaller firm could build and maintain in-house.
While implementing advanced secure IT solutions for big banks over the last three decades, Forbis itself gradually became an expert in modern financial products, including compliance with AML and other regulations. Now the company says SaaS clients are increasingly seeking its industry advice.
Lithuania is among the leading European Union states according to the number of women working in the field of technologies and innovations. The IT field boasts a growing number of success and leadership stories of women that are the inspiration to other women of different ages. However, the experts claim that women still have a huge potential in this field and there is plenty of space for their self-fulfilment in the technology sector.
Working in the IT field is increasingly popular
Paulius Vertelka, one of the founders of the mentorship and consulting programme Women Go Tech, says that although the IT field is currently still dominated by men, the situation has changed for the better within the last decade: in Lithuania, we see the growing number of successful women working in the IT field, leading technological companies, and developing innovations.
“Women in IT mostly work as project managers, testers, data analysts; fewer of them work in the capacity of programmers or IT system architects. Both women and men hold talents among them, which should be encouraged, empowered and welcomed to the sector of innovations. We cannot afford ourselves to ignore women that make half of our talented society, and therefore, both men and women should follow the principle of gender equality,” says Mr Vertelka.
Mr Vertelka says that due to historical men domination in the IT field, not only women aiming to have a career in this sector need encouragement, but also men working in this sector must be encouraged to open up.
Wide possibilities for self-fulfilment
Ija Šležė, CEO of the IT company Forbis, is one of examples of successful female leadership in the IT field. The career path of Ms Šležė takes its roots from her passion for mathematics while at school and has led her to the CEO position of the company developing IT solutions for financial institutions.
“Looking back to my first year at the university, I could not have even imagined that I will enter the IT world. I was studying maths with particular interest in its real-life application. Then, at the beginning of my career, I discovered programming. It attracted me because programming requires analytical, concrete and structured thinking. Later, I had a chance to try other IT positions in the banking sector. At that time, I was the only woman in the IT team, however, this never stopped me from fulfilling my ambitions to have a career in this field,” tells Ms Šležė about her choice and the beginning of her career.
According to Ms Šležė, her biggest attainment from the IT career is a possibility to fulfil, test and improve herself, and learn new things.
“A large number of people still believe that IT is programming only; however, IT has many directions that both men and women may choose from to fulfil themselves. Work in IT requires creativity; however, it is not easy to control this creative process. It is a challenge, which is always intriguing and allows you to improve yourself constantly. For me, this is probably the biggest advantage of working in the IT field,” says Ms Šležė.
According to the head of Forbis, women who are interested in the IT field should disregard all stereotypes and seek to fulfil themselves in the activities that they really like.
More determination is required
Meanwhile, programmer Karolina Ambrazevičienė at the technology company Tesonet is convinced that any person can succeed in the IT field regardless of their gender, if he or she is ready to constantly improve and expand their professional knowledge.
“I would like to believe that women are no longer affected by stereotypes and are able to select their profession according to their interests and goals rather than perceptions of typically feminine or masculine professions. I have many female friends and acquaintances, who successfully work in the field of technologies,” says Ms Ambrazevičienė.
However, she believes that there still is a lack of appropriate information on IT sector professions and their diversity in schools. According to Ms Ambrazevičienė, if the stories of successful women and their attainments in the technology field were highlighted more often, more women of different ages would choose careers in this sector. Success stories would definitely be an encouraging example to young women.
“However, I find women’s desire and perseverance the most important. I started my career by studying books and I had to learn everything myself. It is really possible. If you think that you belong in IT, stop dreaming and start acting. There is plenty of information online. All you need to do is commit yourself and seek your goals,” says Ms Ambrazevičienė.