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Fintech thrives in the coronavirus era, say Israeli CEOs

Speaking at ‘Israeli FinTech: Outstanding Year with Challenges Ahead’, three CEOs share their insights.

James Spiro 09:4907.07.20
Despite global disruption due to the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, three Israeli CEOs chose to focus on benefits and opportunities presented during the crisis, speaking on Monday at an event organized by Tel Aviv-based nonprofit Start-Up Nation Central (SNC).

 

Payoneer’s Scott Galit, Fundbox’s Eyal Shinar, and Hippo’s Assaf Wand all appeared at SNC’s ‘Israeli FinTech: Outstanding Year with Challenges Ahead’ where they discussed how their businesses have pivoted during an unprecedented year. After some initial problems, they largely agreed that there were “as many opportunities as challenges.”

 

Fintech. Photo: Shutterstock Fintech. Photo: Shutterstock

 

According to a recently published SNC report, equity investments in Israeli FinTech have soared, demonstrating largely exponential growth in the last six years (with the exception of 2017). Israel has seen around $1.8 billion invested into companies - representing around 5% of all venture stage FinTech investments.

 

In total, 12 companies raised more than $100 million each, with many of them representing insurance firms. Fundbox, a provider of credit and payments solutions for small businesses, was one of the main recipients of investment in the sector.

 

Most of Fundbox’s partners are SMBs relying on B2B markets to stay afloat, explained Eyal Shinar, CEO and founder of Fundbox, Inc. Generally, it means that since they rarely relied on consumers, their business didn’t feel the impact as much as other companies. To date, the company has raised $284 million.

 

Similarly, Hippo Insurance Services’ Assaf Wand described some of the ways that Covid-19 has changed the way that insurance companies are monitoring their claims processes. Wand explained in the seminar how there have been fewer burglary and car accident claims, resulting in car insurance companies making a fortune. Also, since more people are home all day, residents spot problematic home issues (such as flooding) sooner than if they were at the office all day.

 

Payoneer Inc’s CEO Scott Galit leaned into the coronavirus era by ‘embracing global teams’ from around the world. For example, their regular Friday lunchtime gathering in the New York office was expanded to include colleagues from other locations. California would use Zoom to join them for breakfast, and European offices would check in for afternoon drinks.

 

Employees embraced working fully remotely, increasing the frequency of contact through digital communication, explained Galit. Payoneer spotted the risks of Covid-19 as early as January, so the company found ways to pivot and respond accordingly.

 

The thriving FinTech industry largely matches the sentiments of SOSA innovation hub’s founder Uzi Scheffer. Speaking exclusively to CTech, he described how companies today are using the pandemic to ‘cancel the noise’ often associated with the busy innovation space. Public relations announcements, fancy trips to Tel Aviv or Silicon Valley, and constant buzz have been replaced with the necessity to deliver real, tangible results.

 

“Overall, demand for technologies has never been so high,” said Scheffer. There’s been “somewhat of a change in nature. Much less noise, less exploration, pitches, and demo days. More to the essence.”

 

While it has become more difficult to ride the wave of innovation due to travel restrictions, processes are still moving forward.

 

“It's more difficult to do it, but the need beats the difficulty,” said Scheffer.