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Michael Kogeler: “Armenia should export successful FinTech solutions”

 Wednesday 23 November 2016
Micheal Kogeler
Photo: Mediamax

Micheal Kogeler


In late October Dilijan Training and Research Center hosted Armenia’s first Fintegration hackathon in FinTech format, aimed at combining financial services and digital technologies.

The hackathon was organized jointly by Dom-Daniel and Microsoft Armenia in cooperation with Central Bank of Armenia and NASDAQ OMX Armenia.

Banks.am talked to General Manager of the CEE Multicountry region at Microsoft Michael Kogeler, who came to Armenia to attend the hackathon.

- Having seen the potential of Armenian startups, how do you think we can facilitate development of entrepreneurship in the region?

- It is not about adding new startups, it is about maintaining the existing ones. According to the new tendency, if a startup has the necessary means and successes, then it moves to Silicon Valley. You need to create an environment, where startups would like to stay in the region. Who knows, maybe one of the teams at this Hackathon will become a successful company.

Everyone speaks about the Diaspora; they say Armenia is a wonderful place. Then tell me please, why won’t you come back to Armenia if that is the case? This proves that there are, nevertheless, problems in the country. Unless those problems are tackled, any startup will try to open the window and fly away once it is successful.

Photo: Mediamax

- What is the secret of creating a successful FinTech ecosystem?

- I noticed something curious and probably hilarious – banks worldwide seem to be organizing their own “death”, as with development of FinTech direction the business model of traditional banks undergoes changes. Five year later this business model will differ essentially from what we have today.

The fact that financial structures want to organize such events might tell about their vision. Perhaps banks want to be a part of innovation and use innovative talent. The problem here is what will happen if startups create a solution tomorrow, which will replace banks.

I think that successful FinTech solutions should be exported. If the given business model works well in Armenia, it can work, for example, in Belgium. If you have such solutions, export them. I think that uniting developers and students of business schools is a good idea.

- Are you saying that FinTech companies and banks will be able to work together in the future?

- If they are open to change, that cooperation is possible. I like current moods in Armenia’s banking system – they want to know what is happening, how technologies change everything. If the next steps are right, it will be great, but if they make mistakes, nothing will work out.

- Have you planned any joint initiatives with Microsoft Armenia in the nearest future, relating to Armenian IT?  

- We already have projects at this moment, aimed at supporting startups. We need to provide mentoring to startups, as we do in other countries. Microsoft Innovation Center operates in Armenia now, where many startups learn how to write codes and many more.

I spoke to the management team of NASDAQ OMX Armenia during my visit to Armenia on possibilities of establishing startup incubator there. This kind of an incubator was opened in Bulgaria recently, where 60 startups will receive support and consultation 24/7. I wish such an establishment operated in Armenia as well. I think that we need to discuss this topic with the Central Bank and private organizations. This is a rather realistic vision, if we find partners.

Narine Daneghyan talked to Micheal Kogeler

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