Dr. Eivilė Čipkutė, President of the Association of Lithuanian Banks, provided an overview of finance digital transformation. She noted that the shift in this sector, which has been greatly determined by technologies and the pandemic, is best illustrated by decreased cash payments. However, the growth of card payments seen over the past decade achieved a certain halt in 2020. Additionally, more cash withdrawals from bank accounts were observed in the first half of the past year, which was determined by the pandemic and people’s wish to keep savings at home.
“However, I am glad to note that, compared to other European countries, Lithuanian citizens more often prefer bank payments over cash. Of course, this habit was caused by the pandemic,” E. Čipkutė said.
She noted that changes in the banking sector are greatly affected not only by the pandemic, electronic finance technologies – fintech market, but also by neobanks allowing operation globally. According to the President of the Association of Lithuanian Banks, this technological shift, which emerged five years ago, is very important and now allows to forgo cash payments more and more often.
“For example, Sweden is successfully on the path to cash-free settlements and took a decision to no longer accept cash as a means of payment in starting from 2023. Other Scandinavian countries will seek to implement similar policies, too,” E. Čipkutė said.
Andrius Bičeika, Deputy CEO and Head of Business Development at Revolut, who spoke about a fast shift to digital banking, presented an overview of the global finance situation. According to him, the coronavirus grew payments with Revolut app in the Baltics tenfold, the number of users increased, Revolut cards were introduced in Lithuania and in Poland. It shows that fewer and fewer people these days use cash for payments.
“It is probable that in about three years, insurance technologies will grow even more, B2B and B2C business models will become integral, open banking will grow even more popular, card daily functions will become more sophisticated, they will be customised even for very young people,” A. Bičeika introduced future changes to expect.
Dr. Nerijus Mačiulis, Chief Economist at Swedbank, gave an overview of the Baltic economic outlook. Having started with the discussion of the coronavirus statistics, N. Mačiulis was delighted to note that the situation was improving due to creation of vaccines and people getting their jabs, but he said it is also possible that we will see another peak of the pandemic in the autumn.
“It should be noted that the Baltic States did not take a huge blow from the pandemic and had a far smaller recession than other European countries and their economies, apart from the tourism, entertainment industries, suffered only negligible changes,” N. Mačiulis said and noted that the economic situation was improving fast and we should soon return to the situation we had before the lockdown.
Although forecasts are positive, N. Mačiulis said that there were some factors causing concern. This is increasing money volume that will cause inflation, but this concern has been present already for a number of years. “Although central banks tell not to worry about it too much and say that inflation is temporary, in many countries we see that it is not only an interim effect and it may affect larger economies in the future,” N. Mačiulis forecast.
Reports in the conference were also made by Jokūbas Markevičius, Director of the Financial Stability Department at the Bank of Lithuania, Mantas Marčiulaitis, Director of Transformations and Partnerships at BMI Institute. Vaidotas Gurskas, Branch Manager at Citadele in Lithuania, Audrius Rutkauskas, Head of Innovation Center at SEB Lithuania, and Per Nordkvist, Head of the Innovation Centre at the Swedish Financial Supervisory Authority, shared their experience.
Fintech market was also analysed: Rugilė Stonytė, Senior Investment Advisor at Invest Lithuania, overviewed changes in this sector and global trends we should get ready for. Agnė Selemonaitė, Deputy CEO & Board Member at Connect Pay, Justinas Dedela, Head of Local Sales at European Merchant Bank, and Marius Bausys, Founder and CEO at ArcaPay, spoke about lessons of the pandemic and synergies of fintech and traditional banks.
TGS Baltic organised the conference together with the Swedish Chamber of Commerce in Lithuania and the Embassy of Sweden in Vilnius.