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Opinion

Will Covid-19 give CEE banks the edge in the fight against fintech?

It’s hard to blame anyone for looking for bright spots in these difficult times.

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In central and eastern Europe, some embattled senior bankers are taking comfort in the thought that the Covid-19 crisis might help them see off the challenge from fintechs and other non-bank players.

It is easy to see why. At any time, banks’ biggest assets in the battle against tech rivals are their balance-sheet heft, track record and customer trust. In a non-financial crisis, the value of each of these assets increases exponentially. 

At times of turmoil, trust is clearly key – and banks’ pivotal role in the economy makes them the go-to partners for governments looking to deliver financial support to businesses and gives them access to more or less unlimited central bank liquidity.

Banks in CEE were particularly well placed going into the Covid-19 crisis. As well as boasting some of the strongest balance sheets in Europe, and ample experience of market turmoil, they are also among leaders in terms of technology.

A surge in usage of digital banking channels as customers eschew cash and embrace e-commerce has thus played to their strengths. Not only have they been easily able to handle the increase in volume of online and mobile banking, but clients taking the digital plunge have access to highly sophisticated and accessible platforms.


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