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A FinTech Academy for the CEE Region To Be Launched in Sofia

Bulgarian fintech think tank Sophia Lab is joining forces with Israeli consultancy firm Equitech to launch CEE FinTech Academy – an organization aiming to satisfy the growing demand for professionals in the field of fintech, data protection, and cybersecurity. The news was announced at Annual FinТech Summit 2019 by Filip Genov, Co-founder of Sophia Lab, and Tal Sharon, MD at Equitech. Further details regarding kick off and pricing will be announced soon.

The idea for the academy came up in a meeting between Genov and the Bulgarian State E-Government Agency. “In this country, we have approximately 39K private legal entities and another almost 7K public which in the next five years need to have a cybersecurity function and/or a cybersecurity service provider that is registered and certified. And this offering does not exist.”, said Filip Genov, who is also VP of UniCredit Bulbank.

Banks want to learn fintech

CEE FinTech Academy will provide two programs, both targeting employees in financial institutions and businesses.

The first program will give financial workers a broad understanding of fintech and industry trends. The desired outcome would be more cross-team collaboration, increased employee engagement, and sourcing innovation internally.

The second one is focused on professionals who want to get certified in data protection and cybersecurity. “It won’t be long until every company will have to deal with cyber aspects: either threats, compliance, not breaking the law and dealing with regulators. In order to do that, they will need to have an internal person working from inside the team”, explained Tal Sharon. The goal of the academy will be to educate existing employees and make them cybersecurity champions for their teams.

Leveraging human capital

It turns out that low penetration of cybersecurity is not the only issue financial institutions have. Another big problem is low employee engagement. Sharon believes that the main reason for that is that companies don’t invest in their human capital. “Very sad fact: only 3% of the companies are investing in their employees”, he said and added that educating financial workers about fintech can be a great business booster.

Right now big companies face much resistance from staff when it comes to adopting new technologies. Employees are too focused on their streamlined functions. On the other hand, customers demand financial services working seamlessly which require more cross-department collaboration than ever. Bringing a broad understanding of fintech, data protection, and cybersecurity to lower organizational levels can help big players stay afloat among the growing competition in the sector.

Regional scope

CEE FinTech Academy has the ambition to provide certification and competence for cybersecurity in the region. It will bring in experts from Israel and other countries. Genov expressed his willingness to cooperate with other active members of the local ecosystem in building the programs. However, it’s still not clear when they will kick off and what the enrollment criteria will be.

The Fintech Academy is one of the initiatives of Sophia Lab aiming to support the fintech environment in the region. Last year, Sophia Lab launched a RegTech SandBox (mechanism for development of regulations that keeps up with the fast pace of innovation- ed.note) in collaboration with the Commission for Personal Data Protection focusing on R&D discussions between the regulator and the industry.

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