Concluding the Visa Innovation Program Season 4 with a celebration full of innovation and fintechs! This year, we hosted a big international Demo Day event at the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center in Athens. Sixteen fintechs graduating from the Greek, Bulgarian and Turkish hubs presented their innovative solutions that address some of the financial services industry’s biggest challenges, such as advancing next-generation payments experiences, empowering SMEs, unlocking new payment flows and building a smarter and more sustainable future. Continue reading to learn all insights!
Time for a recap
Since its inception in 2018 in Bulgaria, the Visa Innovation Program has swiftly evolved into a gravity point for the best fintech entrepreneurs and a growth machine for emerging fintech startups across Europe. It has completed 4 cohorts in Greece, Bulgaria and Turkey, and attracted over 900 applications from more than 60 countries. Among those, 72 start-ups were selected and have successfully graduated with a total of 68 pilots. A key feature of the Program is to give local fintechs access to Visa’s global network of business partners, and 133 Borderless days have been organized in the last two years alone to foster cross-market connections and collaborations. The program delivered a total of 1300 mentorship hours. Fintechs participated in 84 investment rounds and received more than 350 million euros worth of funding. One of the first participants to the program, Payhawk, became Bulgaria’s first unicorn in 2022. And we are just warming up.
Season 4 Demo Day
The Visa Innovation Program Demo Day, one of the biggest gatherings of the fintech ecosystem in the region, started with welcome notes by the General Manager of Visa, Greece, Cyprus, Malta, Israel, Ms. Sevdalina Vassileva.
“Visa is constantly innovating to make new and future payment methods and channels better and more accessible to all. This is what guides our approach to collaborating with fintechs to create new ways to pay and be paid. The Visa Innovation Program started as an individual local program and within 4 years, it expanded regionally. I am proud to say that the program was also launched in Spain this year, following its success in our markets, and we hope to expand its reach further. As we are set to announce an open call for the next cohort soon, I am very pleased to see that the Visa Innovation Program has become a truly institutional platform that is here to stay”.
The Demo Day continued with a discussion panel with speakers from all around the world, demonstarting the large network the Visa Innovation Program has managed to attract throughout the years of its existence: “Fintech powers the future of everything — reimagine the way people live, work and play in the digital era”. The discussion was conducted by the industry leaders, Apostolos Apostolakis, Founding Partner at VentureFriends, Momtchil Elenkov, Fintech Director of Viber Rakuten, Ohad Maimon, CEO of Hyp, and Saner Mesçioğlu, CVC Director of Aktif Ventures.
The Visa Innovation Program alumni also joined us for this Demo Day and shared their experience with the graduating 4th Cohort:
- Victor Trokoudes, Co-founder and CEO of Plum and George Karamanolis, Co-founder & CTO/CIO of Crowdpolicy.
- Galya Dimitrova, Managing Partner at IRIS Solutions and Rene Tomova, Head of Platform — Design Partner at Eleven Ventures.
- Serdar Kodal, Co-founder and CEO of Haso and Kaan Akin, Founder of Hackquarters.
Who grabbed the awards?
During the event, the audience had the opportunity to watch demos from the sixteen fintechs graduating from the Greece, Bulgaria and Turkey and to vote online for their preferred startup in the following categories:
- Most Valuable PoC
- Best SME Solution
- Most Innovative Startup
- Most Eco-Friendly Fintech
And the winners who grabbed the awards were… drumroll, please:
- “Most Valuable PoC “ Award — MonoPayments with their collaboration with Qumpara;
- “Best SME Solution” Award — Coriunder;
- “Most Innovative Startup” Award — ComeTogether;
- “Most Eco-Friendly Fintech” Award — EVLoader.
Last but not least, Beatrice Larregle, Regional Managing Director, Southern Europe, Visa, closed the event with some insightful remarks. She pointed out the importance of creating more inclusive economies and developing solutions that are more accessible to all. She congratulated the fintechs, thanked all the attendees, program managers, clients and the Visa Team, and mentioned that the team is already busy preparing the 5th Cohort of the program!
Wrapping it up
Overall, the Visa Innovation Demo Day was a huge success, attended hybridly by over 230 special guests from the startup and fintech ecosystem, Visa and bank executives, PoC partners, and stakeholders of the Program. There is no doubt that the Visa Innovation Program has established its way in the startup and fintech ecosystem, and Visa has enabled the whole process with 4 cohorts in the row! The future looks even brighter. Season 5 of the Visa Innovation Program is coming with even more initiatives, wider reach, bigger community, more exciting PoC opportunities, and larger investor pool. Stay tuned!