Ebury is a financial services company, specialising in international cash management solutions including cross-border payments, FX risk management, and business lending. We had the opportunity to meet Chiara Fortunali, Key Account di Ebury Italia, and ask her about both the recent past and the near future of this international fintech.
How did the pandemic impact on your business?
Having a totally cloud based infrastructure, we were already prepared to work in smartworking so were able to reorganize all our activities very quickly ensuring the continuity of all our services. In Italy we decided that, to protect the health of our employees, we would start working remotely from February 24th. This has allowed us to continue serving our customers with the same efficiency as always and without disruption due to the change in the way of working that has instead distinguished many of our competitors.
How did you deal with it from a business point of view? Have you created ad hoc initiatives for your customers?
At the beginning of the emergency, we asked ourselves what our customers’ needs might be. We tried to be close to them by monitoring the foreign exchange market for them and helping in managing international transactionality by monitoring the success of collections and payments. We then realised that many of our clients would have an interest in access to credit sources and we took steps to disburse funds guaranteed by the state. This way, people working with us can use Ebury to access credit sources with the speed and efficiency that characterizes our processes.
How do you think the pandemic it has impacted the fintech industry in general?
This pandemic has shown that fintech can help SMEs to improve their processes and that it is an alternative and very efficient channel for companies that are served less carefully by a traditional banking channel. They have sent us customers who did not even take us into consideration us before. Let me give you an example of an event that happened in Portugal: during the rampant emergency in Europe our Portuguese branch helped one of the leading hospitals purchase medical devices. In particular, thanks to Ebury, the hospital was able to arrange the purchase transaction at 10.00 pm on the Thursday and the funds arrived in China the following day. This allowed the hospital to receive the goods the following Thursday. With a traditional banking channel the transaction would have taken place on Friday morning, SMEs do not have access to premium services, and would have been cashed the following Monday, causing a delay of 4 days in departure and subsequently in receiving medical devices. It is still etched in everyone’s memory how much 4 days means in terms of the spread of the epidemic and the consequences for human lives.
What are your goals for the end of 2020 in Italy?
To continue increasing our market share and enrich our offer both in terms of products and currencies traded. 2020 for Ebury is the year in which we want to develop the capabilities with the currencies traded in Latin America. We have also entered into partnerships that allow us to increase our product offering to optimize cash flow. We are continuing to invest in our platform and want to continue helping hospitals and healthcare facilities to make international transactionality more efficient.
What is special about the Italian market from your point of view?
The Italian market is among those most attached to the traditional banking system. It has always been among those less advanced than fintech. The Covid 19 emergency has pushed everyone to work from home and consequently to review procedures a lot. As a result, all those companies that who previously looked at fintech with some distrust, have had the opportunity,during the lockdown, to appreciate its efficiency and are now no longer willing to go back.
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