Romanian tech entrepreneurs expand into banking sector

Romanian tech entrepreneurs expand into banking sector
By bne IntelliNews December 16, 2020

Romanian tech entrepreneur Vasile Olimpiu Balas, a programmer who has over 20 years of experience in developing software for the local banking industry, has taken over a 64.6% stake in local lender Banca Comerciala Feroviara and plans to turn the bank into one dedicated to local tech startups.

The bank was founded by local businessman Valer Blidar, who owns the biggest passenger wagon factory in Romania, to support the local industry.

The bank will change its name to Techventures Bank. "Starting with December 2020, we have a new project — Techventures Bank, a bank that will be developed according to the vision of an IT specialist who aims to deliver products and services connected to the latest advanced technologies available on the international market,” Balas said. 

“We want to differentiate ourselves through a technology applied and useful to each client. From January next year, we will start integrating a series of technologies, and we will continue to develop each solution and product through this vision," added Balas, quoted by

At the same time, another Romanian entrepreneur is launching a wholly-online bank in the Czech Republic.

The Romanian-Czech bank Octobank, a neobank — meaning a bank that operates only online — founded by Romanian entrepreneur Bogdan Atanasiu, is preparing to launch operations.

The lender will provide services through web and mobile applications. The virtual and physical debit cards issued by the bank are compatible with online and POS payments with Google Pay and Apple Pay, also offering the possibility to withdraw cash at any ATM.

It will aim to attract SME customers from the online retail area.

The private bank, based in Prague and with the main focus on online stores and merchants in the Eastern and Central Europe (ECE) region, will initially operate on the Czech market to later expand in Romania, Poland, and Hungary.

The launch of the operations is scheduled for early next year, after completing the first round of capital investment. Octobank representatives did not provide details about the targeted amount, but they specified that it is a pre-seed venture capital investment led by one of the Big4 consulting companies.

Octobank will operate in the Czech Republic in collaboration with a local bank.

"We have chosen the Czech Republic as the first market to launch operations because in recent years it has recorded the largest share of contactless payment transactions at points of sale (POS) in all European countries, this being the basis on which Octobank develops its solutions. And we expect this trend to spill over the entire ECE region, where we intend to continue the expansion with Poland, Romania, and Hungary at a later stage," explained Atanasiu.