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SME Banking Conference in Tbilisi Promotes Financial Innovations to Ease Access to Finance

Tbilisi, Georgia, May 24-25, 2017: The SME Banking Club is hosting the Caucasus SME Banking Club Conference 2017 in Tbilisi this week, to promote innovative non-financial services provided by banks—including providing businesses with practical guidance on how to grow sustainably and expand access to finance.

IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, is supporting the conference through its program on Non-Financial Services for SMEs in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. Bank of Georgia is an exclusive financial sponsor. More than 60 executives and officials from Eastern Europe, the South Caucasus, Central Asia, and the Middle East are attending the conference.

With the diverse needs of SMEs prompting many banks to shift from simple lending to more comprehensive banking strategies, the conference will focus on digital banking and innovations. It has gathered key regional players to discuss innovations in digital, new lending and payment technologies for SMEs, as well as mobile solutions, e-banking, multi-channel strategies, and cooperation with fintechs and startups.

“New technologies and digital devices, and the rapid pace of innovation have had a big impact on the operating models of banks and banking infrastructure,” said Andrey Gidulyan, SME Banking Club founder. “In order to remain relevant, banks need to implement the newest financial services, including through cooperation with fintechs or using new opportunities provided by international IT services and corporations.”

“Our experience in emerging markets shows that non-financial services are a win-win for everyone. They help SMEs address some of their key challenges, while also bringing tangible benefits to banks as they help grow their SME portfolios,” said Olena Prokopovych, IFC Non-financial Services Lead in the Eastern Europe, Middle East and North Africa. “We are helping banks in the region tap into this vast potential while also helping SMEs grow sustainably.”

SMEs are the largest employers in many low-income countries, yet their viability can be threatened by a lack of access to finance. Creating opportunities for SMEs in emerging markets is crucial to encouraging growth and reducing poverty.

Managers, SME business leaders, and banking executives from Georgia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Ukraine, and Russia attending the conference include:

  • Boris Dyakonov, CEO, Tochka Bank (Russia)
  • Yakov Novikov, Co-founder, Managing director, ModulBank (Russia)
  • Olena Prokopovych, Non-financial Services lead in Europe, Middle East and North Africa, IFC
  • Manar Korayem, Women Banking Champions Program Lead, IFC
  • Zurab Masurashvili, Head of MSME Banking Department, Bank of Georgia
  • Eugen Metzger, Board Member, Ukrgasbank
  • Tamar Zhizhilashvili, Deputy Director of Marketing Communications & Business Banking, TBC Bank (Georgia)

IFC’s Program on Non-Financial Services for SMEs in Europe and Central Asia is funded by Switzerland’s State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO).

 About SME Banking Club

A non-profit association, the SME Banking Club provides information about the services European banks offer to micro, small and medium enterprises. It also promotes SME banking as a career option for workers in the financial industry. The association provides analytical services and conducts research on the banking sector across Europe.

For more information about the SME Banking Club, please visit https://www.smebanking.club/

 or more information about IFC, please visit http://www.ifc.org

For more information about Switzerland’s State Secretariat for Economic Affairs, please visit: www.seco-cooperation.admin.ch/index.html?lang=en

About Bank of Georgia:

JSC Bank of Georgia is the leading Georgian bank with a market share of 33.5% (based on total assets), 32.7% (based on total loans) and 32.2% (based on client deposits). The Bank offers a broad range of retail banking, corporate banking and investment management services. As of 31 December 2017, Bank of Georgia served approximately 2.0 million client accounts through one of the largest distribution networks in Georgia, with 276 branches, the country’s largest ATM network, comprising 772 ATMs, 2,697 Express pay (self-service) terminals and a full-service remote banking platform and a modern call center. For more information about Bank of Georgia, please visit http://bankofgeorgia.ge.