“Banks and retail. Digital Transformation and Interaction”. What did the second PLUS-Forum show in Tashkent?
It is no coincidence that the capital of the republic of Uzbekistan, which is the most dynamic economy in the region, becomes the venue for the international PLUS-Forum “Banks and Retail. Digital Transformation and Interaction” for the second time in a row. Recall that the World Bank predicted a 5.5% growth of the economy of Uzbekistan in 2022, and the economic growth rate in Central Asia is expected to rebound to 4.3% by the end of this year.
Bringing together over 1,600 delegates from 51 countries, the event supported by the Central Bank of the Republic of Uzbekistan confirmed once again its status as one of the most popular platforms for inter-sectoral communication in the Central Asian region.
More than 120 experts from various international and regional companies spoke at the panel sessions and round tables.
The representative exhibition held as part of the Forum was attended by 79 companies in their capacity of PLUS-Forum partners and sponsors. The companies presented at their stands innovative technologies, solutions and products for the areas such as fintech, banking, public services, e-commerce and retail.
Chairman of the Steering Committee Alexander Grizov, who opened the 2nd International PLUS-Forum “Banks and Retail. Digital Transformation and Interaction”, welcomed the delegates and noted the increased interest in the event from the market participants: “It is always great to take the first step. It demonstrates courage, determination and a positive attitude. Taking the second step requires courage and a will to steadily steer the long-term course. This is our principle, and we will be following it without fail!”
Deputy Chairman and Board Member of the Central Bank of the Republic of Uzbekistan, Ilhomjon Abdugafarov noted in his speech: “The success of last year's PLUS-Forum made it possible to broaden the agenda of the event this year and invite more participants. The Forum has become much larger, delegates from more than fifty countries came here.”
Having traversed the prospects for the payment systems market in Uzbekistan, Ilhomjon Abdugafarov stressed that the republic continued comprehensive reforms aimed at improving the payment systems market. He also informed that a Cybersecurity Center was established in Uzbekistan, a biometric identification project was successfully developing, and the number of non-bank payment service providers already exceeded the number of banks.
Cristina Doros, Visa Vice President, Country Manager for Central Asia and Azerbaijan, welcomed the participants of the PLUS-Forum and briefly reminded the audience of more than 60 years of Visa's experience, emphasizing that all the while Visa has been the global leader in the digital technology and payment solutions development, operating in more than 200 countries around the world.
“We have issued 3.8 billion cards, that is, almost half of humanity has a Visa card, and we process 232 million transactions a year,” said C. Doros. “The cards are accepted by more than 70 million merchants worldwide. The term “fintech” appeared relatively recently, but the concept itself, in fact, appeared 60 years ago. We were the first fintech to create the first electronic payment system.”
Cristina Doros also said that the Central Asian market is a priority for Visa: “We have been present here for 25 years, and this year we are honored to be the title sponsor of this event,” she stressed. “PLUS-Forum creates a platform that allows us to discuss what is happening, to see in more details what companies are doing.”
PLUS-Forum special guest, international expert in the development and transformation in the banking and retail sectors Michael Ruckman gave his Master Class “Difficulties and imperatives of leadership in the digital age” in the format of a business breakfast.
Almost all experts were unanimous in their opinion that the digitalization of banking and payment systems, as well as their permanent transformation, is an actual necessity today.
Most speakers noted at the sessions that the rapid development of the fintech industry and digital transformation are among the key drivers of almost any business. And taking into account that Uzbekistan has strode forward confidently in terms of economic development in recent years, the topics discussed at the Forum platform have gained new relevance and significance.
Chairman of the Board of Tenge Bank Talgat Ayupov noted in his speech that Uzbekistan is a country of great opportunities and informed the participants about the experience of the banking business development in the republic. He also made a presentation, which is interesting as well, in terms of practical use, for those involved in the development of fintech projects and seeking to learn about the main challenges in the payment market of Uzbekistan.
Irina Odinaeva, Managing Director of the Financial Services Department at Accenture, told the Forum participants how new technologies help banks today develop such a popular product as digital mortgage.
Speaking at the session “Banking business in the process of transformation” Alexey Volynkin, First Deputy General Director of the Innotech Group, informed about a new business format – bionic companies built on the symbiosis of artificial intelligence and humans. He dwelled separately on the importance of introducing technologies for saving data about all processes in the company for the purpose of downloading and training artificial intelligence.
First Deputy General Director of Datatech Alexander Fridman informed the Forum participants in detail about the practical application of solutions based on Big Data and AI in the financial sector.
Speaking at the panel session “Payment business. Development in all azimuths, QIWI Chief Commercial Officer Alexander Agakov said: “The last few years have been unique, and the pandemic has pushed the entire business to solving various kinds of new tasks. People, faced with this Future Shock, were actually able to survive it only thanks to digitalization. In particular, it helped the supply chains, which were broken, deliver services and goods to people much faster. Digitalization has become a way out of the trap emerged from the pandemic.”
The presentation by Kirill Ovsyannikov, Deputy General Director for Strategic Areas at BS/2, dedicated to the building of a unique acquiring ecosystem in Uzbekistan, was met with special interest by the audience, since it included practical examples of advanced technology implementations.
At the end of the first day of the International PLUS-Forum in Tashkent, UZCARD, the national payment operator of the Republic of Uzbekistan, and the Innotech Group, a leading provider of high-tech solutions for business digitalization, summed up the results of the Startup Bridge acceleration programme. The Demo Day event was attended by 6 startups, finalists of the programme.
The second day of the 2nd International PLUS-Forum “Banks and Retail. Digital Transformation and Interaction” started with the session “Open API. Crypto. Blockchain. Multi-vector nature of bank transformation”.
Akshay Chopra, Vice President, Head of Innovation and Design, Visa CEMEA, joined the session participants in the online mode and made his presentation “Digital and Crypto Currencies, Seamless Payments” to inform in detail in which countries and how well developed the institutions of central bank digital currencies (CBDC) are today, illustrating his presentation with meaningful infographics.
Speaking about trends in retail, Magnum CEO Azamat Osmanov named the most important things necessary to build any business. He assigned a special role to interaction with regulators in terms of lawmaking and permanent dialogue with the government in order to stimulate business development without any interference, but with a support.
Answering a question about the prospects for fintech and retail markets in Uzbekistan, moderator of the session “Best business cases of retail banking. We analyze, adapt, implement” Mark Zavadsky, ex-general director of Alibaba Russia&CIS, ex-vice president of Sberbank, board member of the Riki Group, said: “The market of Uzbekistan is very promising today, and it has a unique chance – while going through the path of digitalization, the development of e-commerce and fintech – to use the opportunities to study the experience accumulated by different countries and to avoid repetition of others’ mistakes, and most importantly, to understand what part of this experience is adequate to the culture and traditions of the country and how the regulatory norms should be amended to allow the digital economy to develop ever-more-rapidly”.
The final event at the 2nd International PLUS-Forum was the round table “Fintech 2022 and neobanks. Main trends”. Among the issues vigorously discussed by the participants was the reason why traditional banks are not suitable for e-commerce, how to turn e-commerce into a fintech-based unicorn ecosystem, corporate innovations in fintech, digital trends in banking and financial services, fintech as a driver of the digital economy, and more.
The round table participants noted that the 2nd PLUS-Forum in Tashkent became an excellent platform to share experiences among financial institutions, business actors, payment and marketing companies from around the world. Moreover, each speaker was able not only to share the experience of his company, but also to suggest specific solutions for a particular issue.
So, session moderator Nukri Tetrashvili, CEO of TBC Bank (Tashkent), spoke about the development of financial services in the Republic of Uzbekistan: “The role of the state is very important for the development of fintech in Uzbekistan. But in order to develop this market, a critical mass of players is also important. For example, TBC Bank became the first digital bank in Uzbekistan. On the one hand, it was easy for us, as this is a great privilege, but on the other hand, it was very difficult.”
On the second day of the Forum, the Innotech Group, a leading provider of high-tech solutions for business digitalization, signed an agreement with UNIVERSAL PLATFORMS LLC (UZCARD) on the shared use of the Universal Integration Platform in the Uzbek market. The project is unique for the Uzbek market and will allow local players to effectively develop in the fintech industry.
In its turn, Datatech became the official distributor of the Arenadata EDP corporate platform for data collecting, storing and processing in Uzbekistan.
According to numerous testimonials of the participants, the PLUS-Forum held in Tashkent has become an extremely useful and meaningful platform for professional communication. The platform will undoubtedly serve as a new impetus for the development of innovations and promising international projects in Uzbekistan.
In his closing speech, Chairman of the PLUS-Forum Steering Committee Alexander Grizov thanked the participants and, summing up the event, concluded: “Now in our digital world, everyone has learnt how to know the value of his/her time that became a kind of cryptocurrency. Everyone has it in his/her pocket. And not a single regulator will ever prohibit the use of this cryptocurrency. And that is why we value this time the most.”
Read a detailed report on the representative exhibition of the PLUS-Forum “Banks and Retail. Digital Transformation and Interaction” in the upcoming issue of the PLUS Journal.
The Steering Committee expresses its gratitude to the sponsors of the PLUS-Forum “Banks and Retail. Digital Transformation and Interaction”:
• Title Sponsor: Visa
• Strategic Sponsor: Innotech Group, Datatech
• Premium Sponsor: Penki kontinentai group
• General Sponsor: Aktiv company
• Exclusive Sponsor: REALSOFT
• Official Sponsor: NBA Technologies International
• Diamond Sponsor: QIWI Business
• Evening Reception Sponsor: EXPERA
• Coffee Breaks Sponsor: Bukhta
• Platinum Sponsors: Fido-Biznes, HESON RUS, ATM ALLIANCE
• Gold Sponsors: UPT, Thales, Vision Labs, Regula, SafeTech, BPC, FIS, Tarlan Payments, OneSpan, iw-group, software Group, Infobip, Tieto Evry, Compass Plus, Kayssa, LifePay, Paymob, Genesys, Garantex io, Sababa Security, Tenge Bank, Lexis Nexis, Ipak Yuli Bank, Temenos, DIS Group, A+Solutions
• Silver Sponsors: Dataphone, TexSistemaServis, Bass Technology, OTI, Multicarta
• Registration Sponsor: International Bank of Tajikistan• Bronze Sponsors: Sargent & Grenleaf, Octo, Ostkard, iNTHEMElAB, Master Sky, ACI, Nadeks, Sunmi, Orenkart, Cardhall, ArtBank, LMA, Ingenico, MTS Bank, Dekos