Internet Is The New Bank: Digital Festival Discusses Online Payments

Most of us are familiar with using a card for payment after making a purchase. Of course, cash is still around, but have of ever thought of paying for something without actually having to move physically by merely being online? Or, even better, by paying with internet money?

The latest event of Digital Festival discussed precisely the issue of online payments. Tuesday marked another Digital Festival overcrowded event, with programmers, business people, students and others, who gathered for an evening of rich discussions on online payments, its future potential and challenges.

The discussion starts by looking at PayPal & Online Payment Challenges, explained by Flakerim Ismani, Co-Founder and CEO of Metro LLC. Ismani discussed the PayPal use in the country and region. In Kosovo, it is still a challenge because it is not yet functional. However, as Ismani explains, the potential for e-commerce is enormous, especially on the exports area.  “We are hoping to solve the issues with online payments” he says, “but all paths are laborious and costly.”

However, banks such as Raiffeisen have already started facilitating online payments. Florent Lila, Cards Specialist from Raiffeisen Bank, one of the few banks that provides the opportunity to pay online, spoke about e-commerce. This method of selling goods and services as electronic sales, through the internet, has proven to be very beneficial as it smoothens the process of payments. Lila explains that the internet penetration in Kosovo is 76% and “over 1/3 of internet users are ready and willing to make online payment (if they are provided with the opportunity).” Moreover, there are many advantages to it, as Lila explains that it helps eliminate waiting lines, the customer can have access 24h a day and sale if the service/good will be immediate.

Following the discussion about e-commerce, the audience had the opportunity to listen also about E-banking; a service which is used to obtain different information from one’s account, be that balance, transaction history or any other information related to one’s bank account. Fitim Goga, Digital Services Expert, also from Raiffeisen Bank, who presented about this topic, explains that there has been a rapid increase of e-banking users. Now, the customers can even get a loan online without having to visit a bank branch.

However, the concept of what a loan means might be changing as well. Valmir Hazeri from Bittsaphire, a company a virtual incubator of ideas and crypto-start-ups creator, introduced Bitcoin – the new Euro, Dollar or any currency you use. Bitcoin is a monetary system that uses cryptography; often it is called Internet money as it is a digital value that cannot be touched physically – in fact, it cannot be replicated nor can one copy it – and no, not even copy pasted. In fact, as Hazeri explains, Bitcoin’s supply is finite, determined on 21 million, which will last until the year 2140. What makes it unique from other currencies is that Bitcoin is decentralized – it is produced from the network that keeps it up and running, be that from minors or bankers.

With all these new advancements on the field of online payments, from 15 ATMs that Kosovo used to have just a few years ago, to more than 500 ATMs and millions of cards that has today, there is a lot of potential to move even further in technology; as Haziri says, youngsters can create new things, be that in design, content or programming –  “the most important asset that we have is the brain – so let’s start creating.”

And, if you want to start creating, visit us at Digital Festival – we have an app challenge weekend coming up. For more information, check this out.

Blog by: Shpresa Frrokaj

Photo Credits: Arben Llapashtica