Within the scope of their professional workshop, the “Electronic Payment Service Providers’ Association” (EFISZ), continued to hold professional forums and roundtable discussions also in 2021. This year, in the framework of four online workshops, the experts discussed the current events of the digital financial sector, the relevant technology trends and their experiences in the industry and in general, and they analysed the domestic, European, and global trends.
The snapshot of the electronic payments market and perhaps the most important lesson and conclusion from banking and fintech collaborations is that, as a result of the pandemic caused by the coronavirus, the digitalisation in Hungary has leapfrogged years: new ideas, new collaborations and new solutions have emerged. However, in connection with the pandemic, sometimes we hear the term “big reset”: everything had to be redesigned also for the players in the sector, and many “startups” had to shut down. The payments sector is not only affected but largely influenced by phenomena that also affect the daily lives of consumers, such as the emergence of non-EU global service providers appearing in the EU’s internal markets, against which the EU’s internal service providers are currently at a competitive disadvantage or the pandemic situation caused by the coronavirus that resulted in changed shopping and travel habits. In terms of cash flow, the clear winners in this situation are online merchants and online shopping service providers. With the rise of e-commerce, electronic payment methods have also become increasingly important.
In addition to the electronic payment market, the discussions focused on the initiatives related to urban digitization and smart cities, as well as their contexts in terms of electronic payments. Although a generally accepted definition does not yet exist, we can state that a city will be smart if it uses innovative digital technologies in the design, organization, and control of its sustainable ecosystem. Cities need such services the most that are easy to adapt. The future will be about getting in line with the set of user expectations that city dwellers and residents expect—simple, easy-to-understand and easy-to-use, low-cost, and digital services will need to be provided.
If we analyse the sectors of the economy, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are unequivocally the driving forces of the domestic and European economy, and their examination is essential for a comprehensive overview of financial and economic processes. One of the consultations on the European Digital Finance Strategy once mentioned that everything that the “European digital finance profession” has put together in a year will not be realistic without strong support for the SME sector. EU competitiveness, or its restoration, is a critical task in which SMEs play one of the most important roles, so it does not matter how competitive the SME sector is.
Nowadays, it is unavoidable to consider sustainability in the examination of all economic activities. By ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance) we mean values that objectively add value to our society, and thus the ESG is more of a kind of approach, a set of values represented. Sustainability in terms of governance, social and environmental considerations need to be treated as one, as the pillars are interlinked; in a holistic approach, neither pillar can be truly effective without the others. Sustainability requires a change in mindset, it should be part of the cultural thinking or a fundamental consideration, and a self-imposed and mandatory expectation. The root of the topic is individual responsibility, and this is to be found in the attitude. The role of awareness and education is of paramount importance.
The definite goal of EFISZ is to continue its activities in 2022, thus continuing to actively participate in shaping the future of financial digitization in Hungary and the region, in the financial education of the population, and in increasing user awareness.
The document of the EFISZ fintech roundtable discussions will be available soon!