Polish-Czech Fintech Forum in Prague

Blog featured image
  • On May 30, 2023, a Polish-Czech Fintech Forum took place at the Polish Embassy in the Czech Republic, with the participation of companies and entrepreneurs operating in both markets. 

  • The forum was organized by the Embassy of the Republic of Poland, eService and PKO Bank Polski, in cooperation with the Chamber of Deputies and representatives of the Ministries of Industry, Trade and Finance of the Czech Republic, as well as the participation of the Visa and Mastercard payment organizations.

  • At the event, participants discussed the potential for developing cooperation and trade with the support of innovative digital marketplace tools and electronic payments.

The Polish-Czech Fintech Forum is a tripartite initiative of the Embassy of the Republic of Poland to the Czech Republic, the largest acquirer in Central and Eastern Europe - the Polish company eService, and the leader of the Polish banking sector - PKO Bank Polski, which, through its branch in Prague, provides support and services to businesses and corporations operating in the Czech Republic. The aim of the undertaking is to review trends and solutions available in e-commerce and the possibility of their effective use for the development of Polish and Czech companies, their cooperation, as well as trade between the countries. 

"For years, the Czech market has been one of the most important for us. There, we provide services to both Polish companies and retail chains operating in the Czech Republic, as well as local entrepreneurs. Our experience shows a huge role that electronic payments play in business development - both in cross-border relations and in growing sales in both markets. Both Polish and Czech consumers are very open to modern forms of shopping and payment, putting them among the European leaders in this regard. For businesses, however, it means new challenges in providing convenient and intuitive, yet secure payments. This is where eService's role begins, and the Forum we organized is to find the best forms of cooperation," said Joanna Seklecka, CEO of eService.

"Cooperation between Poland and the Czech Republic is of great importance for the development of the economies of both countries, and supporting it is one of our top priorities. At nearly EUR 34 billion - the record trade turnover last year, makes the Czech Republic the second largest export partner for Poland - and Poland is the Czech Republic's second largest trading partner in the EU, right behind Germany," said Mateusz Gniazdowski, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Poland to the Czech Republic. He also emphasized that “Poland is effectively using digital transformation to strengthen its competitiveness and attractiveness in the international market. Our country supports investment in e-commerce and the tools that develop it - innovative digital solutions and mobile applications, enabling Polish and Czech entrepreneurs to reach contractors and consumers in both countries with their offers.”

Polish-Czech trade and economic relations 

A year has passed since the previous meeting between Polish and Czech entrepreneurs. During this time, relations between the two countries have continued to strengthen and develop, against the difficult situation and uncertainty created by the events in eastern Ukraine. It is worth pointing out that Poland's current level of trade with the Czech Republic is higher than with many times larger economies such as France, the United States and China. You can see a huge potential here, which is also indicated by publicly available data. They show that e-commerce with foreign countries is gaining popularity, and more and more domestic companies see it as a growth opportunity. Some of them want to start their expansion from the market of their close neighbour - the Czech Republic. This is supposed to be facilitated by geographic proximity and related similarities, as well as the impression that entering the relatively small Czech market will be easier than heading west. As an added incentive, the Czech Republic is one of the fastest-growing e-commerce markets in Europe, with online stores already accounting for 13.5 percent of domestic retail sales. Their turnover is steadily increasing, and not just as a result of inflation. According to forecasts by the Polish Investment and Trade Agency, the turnover value of the Czech e-commerce market already exceeded CZK 223 billion (about EUR 9 billion) at the beginning of 2023.

Poles and Czechs have similar preferences

Surveys conducted by eService and Visa (www.eservice.pl/en/research) indicate that Poles and Czechs are among Europe's top societies most likely to use modern forms of electronic payments. In both countries, more than 60 percent of the respondents prefer to use electronic payments when shopping at traditional stores and service outlets. That's at least double the percentage of people who prefer to use cash in these situations, with an even greater advantage in Poland at 62 percent versus 26 percent who prefer cash. The similarities in attitudes towards forms of payment are particularly evident in grocery purchases and in the fact that the higher the value of the transaction, the more often and more willingly it is settled using electronic payments - by card or e-wallet in a smartphone. The Forum's participants also learned about the impact that the use of electronic payments has on reducing consumer service times and costs and time burdens on the economy. According to estimates compiled by eService, the duration of all payment transactions completed in 2022 in Poland was about 14,212,000 - 8 h business days. Of this number, as many as 8,692,000 days (about 61 percent of the time) are consumed by transactions carried out in cash, even though its declining share of total transactions already amounted to only 21 percent in 2021 (according to NBP data). This shows the tremendous savings that come from using modern forms of electronic payments. 

Safety is not a marketing gimmick

During presentations and panel discussions accompanying the forum, a lot of attention was paid to cybersecurity issues in e-commerce and the operation of financial institutions. Noting the changing realities of the market and the challenges involved, it was stressed that the operation of the electronic payment industry is stable and secure, thanks to the solutions and procedures that have been developed and continuously improved. Moreover, in a situation accompanied by public concern over the outbreak of war in our eastern neighbour, all payment systems worked smoothly, also ensuring trouble-free and efficient processing of a significant number of payment transactions carried out by refugees with non-EU payment cards. 

The Polish-Czech Fintech Forum is a continuation of last year's meeting between Polish and Czech businesses at the Embassy of the Republic of Poland in Prague. This year's guests included business leaders, representatives of the financial industry, as well as members of the Polish-Czech Parliamentary Group and representatives of authorities supporting the development of the financial sector, trade and industry in the Czech Republic. The Forum enabled them to exchange practical experiences and ideas for improving partnership relations and Polish-Czech cooperation.