Belarus is home to a growing fintech startup ecosystem that now hosts more than 100 fintech companies and applications, according to the latest Belarus Fintech Map by the Belarus Fintech Hub and the Center for Economic Research.
Payments, currency converters and cash transfers, as well as B2B fintech software developers, are the two most crowded fintech segments, with about 30 solutions and companies each. In the payments space, foreign solutions such as Apple Pay and Samsung Pay are operational in Belarus, in addition to local players such as Webpay.
Online investment platforms, initial coin offerings (ICOs) and blockchain, is another popular segment, with more than 10 solutions and providers, according to the map. It includes companies such as Scorum (Belarus), a blockchain-powered sports media platform, CashMarket (Belarus), an online business loan platform, FinStore (Belarus), an online investment platform provided by BelVEB bank, as well as digital assets trading platforms Currency.com (Gibraltar) and iExchange (Belarus).
Other minor categories represented in Belarus include credit scoring and debt settlement, crowdfunding and peer-to-peer (P2P) lending, robo-advisory, personal finance management, online accounting, and point-of-sale (POS).
Notable local fintech players to keep a close eye on, according to startup discovery platform Seedtable, include GiniMachine, which uses artificial intelligence (AI) to fight bad loans, Exp(capital), a market making software development company, and eComCharge, which provides the beGateway white label payment gateway solution for payment services providers and acquirers.
Meanwhile, regtech, insurtech and social trading are the three segments with currently no solutions or players operating in the country, according to the map, showcasing that there is a void to be filled in these sectors.
Belarusian startup ecosystem
As indicated by its much crowded fintech software development segment, as well as its relatively well developed B2B fintech software sector, Belarus is steadily growing into a IT development hub, and that’s not just for fintech, as noted by a translated report by online media Startup Jedi, which pointed out to the country’s rapidly growing startup landscape of “IT-specialists.”
According to the 2019 Belarus Tech Report, Belarus is among the world’s leaders in the export of IT services per capita. From 2005 to 2018, the export of IT services and products increased by more than 30 times, growing from representing 0.16% of all exports to 5.5%.
According to the Startup Jedi study, these progresses have been made possible by the country’s active and committed ecosystem of accelerators, incubators, IT events, and hubs, that have emerged over the past couple of years to boost the country’s young startups and entrepreneurs and foster innovation.
TechMinsk, for example, is an equity-free acceleration program for startups established in 2013 with the support of the US Agency for International Development (USAID) at Imaguru Startup Hub.
TechMinsk has supported now world renowned Belarusian startups including Msqrd, a photo and video editing app acquired in 2016 by Facebook, PandaDoc, the provider of a document automation software that has raised more than US$21 million in funding, according to Crunchbase, and Viber, a messaging app purchased in 2014 by Japanese tech giant Rakuten.
Belarus is also home to approximately 60 research and development (R&D) centers of international tech companies including Fitbit, Yandex, and NEC, according to the 2019 Belarus Tech Report.
Belarusian startups raised a record of US$93 million in 2018 with investment activity rising by 92% over the past five years, the highest growth shown in the region, the report says.