A Deep Dive into Czech & CEE's Fintech and eCommerce Landscape: CatalystConversations, Ep. 4 Radim Oulehla | CatalystPay

A Deep Dive into Czech & CEE's Fintech and eCommerce Landscape: CatalystConversations, Ep. 4 Radim Oulehla

  • 9 min read
  • 27 february 2024

Venture into the ever-evolving world of e-commerce with CatalystPay's interview series. Join us as we delve deep into the entrepreneurial journeys of leading figures in the eCommerce ecosystem in Central and Eastern Europe, uncovering insights on revenue growth, sustainable business models, and international scaling. Whether you're a budding e-commerce entrepreneur or a seasoned pro, these conversations are bound to ignite fresh perspectives and actionable wisdom.

For today’s edition, we have approached Radim Oulehla, a passionate Fintech & eCommerce figure within Czech Republic & the broader CEE region. We aim to delve deeper into the CEE Fintech landscape and explore the intriguing dynamics in Czechia. Among his projects, he created the largest FinTech magazine in the Czech Republic and Slovakia, and he turned online shopping into good deeds through his first project, PodpoĹ™it.cz. He is also a part of the team organizing the largest FinTech events in the Czech Republic.

You run the largest FinTech magazine in the Czech Republic and Slovakia. How would you describe the growth and development trajectory of the fintech market in these countries over recent years? And where is it heading?

The growth and development trajectory of the fintech market in the Czech Republic and Slovakia in recent years has been remarkable, characterized by innovation and adaptability. The fintech ecosystem in these countries has evolved dynamically, with the emergence of new startups and platforms focusing on digital payments, personalized banking, peer-to-peer lending, financial advice automation and blockchain technologies. This growth has also been supported by government and regulatory initiatives that have sought to create a friendly environment for fintech innovation. This is moving towards further development of digital financial services, integration of artificial intelligence for better user experience and increased use of data for personalized services. I give a lot of credit to the Czech Fintech Association for all this.

 Radim Oulehla

What would you say are the biggest challenges eCommerce businesses face these days to sustain growth? How do these challenges differ between established companies and startups?

Large, established companies may struggle to adapt quickly to market changes due to their size and established processes. Maintaining a spirit of innovation and agility is key to maintaining a competitive advantage. Integrating the latest technologies into existing systems can be a challenge for large companies, especially if they have an outdated IT infrastructure.

For new companies, it can be a challenge to build a brand and gain customer trust in a crowded competitive environment. Start-ups often struggle with limited capital and may struggle to maintain positive cash flow during the early years of operations, especially if they are investing in growth and expansion. Finding the balance between rapid growth and sustainability can be difficult for start-ups. They need to scale operations efficiently without sacrificing service or product quality.

What is your observation of the online payments landscape in Czechia and Slovakia? How do the local players adapt and stay competitive vs the global competition and in this fast developing industry?

The online payment environment in the Czech Republic and Slovakia is developing rapidly, requiring local players to constantly innovate and adapt to new technologies. These companies are striving to remain competitive by investing in the development of their technology platforms, improving security protocols and expanding the range of payment methods. Partnerships with global financial institutions and technology companies allow them to leverage the latest trends and innovations in the industry. Local firms also place a strong emphasis on regulatory compliance and data protection, which is essential in Europe due to strict privacy rules. This strategy not only helps in building trust among customers, but also in maintaining a strong market position compared to global competitors.

Payments are a crucial element of the eCommerce experience. In your perspective, what are the primary challenges that merchants face when it comes to payment processing?

E-commerce merchants often face high transaction fees, which reduce their profit margins, especially at low sales volumes. Another issue is payment security, where merchants must invest in robust solutions to protect their customers' sensitive financial information and prevent fraud. Integrating different payment systems and gateways can be complicated and costly, making it difficult for merchants to offer a wide range of payment options. The speed of payment processing is also key, as delays can lead to customer dissatisfaction and increased churn. Finally, with the increasing number of international transactions, merchants face challenges related to currency conversion and cross-border fees, complicating global expansion.

Radim Oulehla

What are the most important aspects of choosing the right payment processing solution from an eCommerce perspective (in the different stages of growth of an ecommerce business)? Looking at consumer preferences, do you see any emerging payment trends?

When selecting the right payment processing solution, it is crucial for e-commerce merchants to consider the ease of integration and user-friendliness of the platform to ensure a smooth shopping process for customers. Flexibility in the payment methods offered, including traditional cards, e-wallets and emerging contactless payments, is also important to accommodate diverse consumer preferences. A flexible pricing structure that adapts to different stages of business growth helps merchants keep payment processing costs in line with their turnover. Recently, the popularity of 'buy now, pay later' payment methods and similar schemes has grown rapidly, reflecting the growing consumer demand for more flexible and innovative payment solutions.

What is your perspective on the adoption of blockchain and cryptocurrencies in eCommerce payments in the region, considering the global interest in these technologies?

The introduction of blockchain and cryptocurrencies in electronic payments is a promising trend that reflects the global rise of interest in these technologies. Blockchain offers increased transparency, security and efficiency in transactions, which can significantly reduce the cost and time required for cross-border payments. Cryptocurrencies as an alternative payment method are attracting a segment of customers looking for fast, anonymous and secure transaction options. Yet, there are challenges such as regulation, volatility of cryptocurrency values and widespread adoption that need to be addressed for wider adoption in e-commerce. However, with a growing number of merchants and platforms accepting cryptocurrencies, the future for blockchain and cryptocurrency integration in electronic payments in the region appears promising. Initiatives to educate and raise awareness about the benefits and risks associated with these technologies are key to their successful integration and adoption among merchants and consumers.

Also Read