After 8 months since its launch on the Romanian market, the local office of iBanFirst, one of the largest providers of foreign exchange and international payments in Europe, has recorded the highest rate of onboarding on the fintech platform in the region, with over 200 active SMEs in its portfolio. On the back of the war in Ukraine, the number of Romanian companies opening accounts on the trading platform has doubled in recent months. This has made Romania the most dynamic market in the region and the second most dynamic in Europe after France.
“From our point of view, Romanian SMEs have exceeded the <early adopters> phase, which represents a 15% adoption rate of fintech services. We are in the <early majority> phase, the leaders in this area being companies that develop import-export services and that need more transparency and speed in processing international payments. By the end of the year, we plan to develop the open banking capabilities, which will further simplify customers’ day-to-day business. Users will thus be able to centralise all their financial operations (viewing bank accounts, initiating payments, exchanging currencies, etc.). This will also allow us to address larger companies working with several banking partners”, says Alin Latu, Country Manager iBanFirst Romania.
The most dynamic month, both in terms of the number of new clients and transaction volume, was March. The high volatility in the foreign exchange market, generated by the developments in the Ukraine conflict, led to a decrease in the risk appetite of companies involved in international trade. As a result, iBanFirst’s Bucharest office registered a 300% increase in risk management services provided to clients, which contributed to a 250% increase in total transaction volume in the first quarter of 2022 compared to the last quarter of 2021. The number of SMEs that have opened accounts on the platform has also doubled during this period, to 40 new companies.
„The performance of the Romanian office is a great surprise for iBanFirst, exceeding our initial expectations. The adoption rate of fintech services is growing at an accelerating rate, and one of the reasons for this is the fact that nowadays companies operate in an unpredictable economic environment where they need to operate with speed and agility. The team of specialists we have developed locally is ready to provide companies with all the support they need to overcome their challenges and achieve their international growth objectives”, says Johan Gabriels, Regional Director for South East Europe at iBanFirst (photo L).
Our clients in Romania are companies with import and export operations in a variety of industries, from automotive, agriculture, IT and telecommunications to construction and retail. They use the trading platform to make fast, transparent payments and profitable currency exchanges, with access to over 30 currencies. In addition, companies benefit from adjacent financial services for currency risk management provided by a local team of 15 forex & hedging specialists.
By the end of 2022, iBanFirst Romania aims to attract 600 clients on the platform (40 – 50 clients per month) and to increase its team to 18 – 20 consultants. The main target clients are companies with an annual foreign exchange trading volume of at least €500,000.
iBanFirst currently operates 12 offices in 9 European countries. The first area of development was in France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany. In 2021, the company has started its expansion in Southern and Eastern Europe, following an agreement with the US fund Marlin Equity Partners for a growth capital investment of €200 million. In recent months, under the regional leadership of Johan Gabriels, four local offices have been opened in Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary and Italy.