Fintech Stories: Barion, the PayPal of the data information age

After our first two interviews for the Fintech Stories series highlighted startups from Australia and the UK, we are returning to the region to show that fintech stories may be built wherever the industry provides opportunities.

Late last year, Barion, a Hungarian startup, announced an investment of EUR 6 million from an incumbent in the Czech financial space, Home Credit Group, making it one of the largest fintech investments to date in the CEE.

We caught up with Tamas Biro, the co-founder and marketing director of Barion, for a quick interview about the company’s trajectory going forward.

Give us the 2-liner description of Barion
Barion is a better PayPal with Google’s business model. We process online and mobile payments, and make money on the data we collect, rather than on transaction fees.
What’s the problem you are trying to solve?
Payment fees are diminishing, and the industry needs a new business model. We want to be ahead of everybody else. Our business model was very successful in our home market, now we’re launching it abroad. One of the keys behind our progress is Barion’s innovative business model, which offers a very favourable commission system to retailers, where the company asks for the data of the purchases, because the very precise marketing service based on this data means a great value.
How many people on your team have prior experience in the financial/fintech scene?
We have experience in IT and online technologies. Our lawyer is an experienced financial lawyer and one of our angel investors, Roland Pecsenye, worked for IND Group that was sold to Misys.

“A good investor understands their roles is not to direct the company”

How large is the adressable market you’re targeting?
Our current license is valid through the entire EEA, but the business model could work anywhere.
You’ve recently attracted a sizeable investment for the CEE fintech scene, from an established financial player. How does the dynamic of the startup/scaleup environment change with a corporate investor on board?
We are still a dynamic, lean and startup-like company. We wanted to work with an investor who would leave our culture and agility intact. We found that in Home Credit. We had our first board meeting and we accepted the 2018-19 business plan really quickly, with unanimous vote. A good investor invests in the team and understands that their role is not to direct the company, but to help and advise, if needed. 
Apart from Barion, what other CEE fintech startup do you admire?
Our favourite is SEON, a startup with a killer anti-fraud solution which are using in our Barion Smart Gateway
What are the most relevant fintech-related resources do you digest?
Whenever we need information, we cross reference many sources to see the truth. Googling is an art you have to master when building a startup.

What fintech startup would like to hear more about? Let us know in the comments.

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