Empowering fintechs to build a brighter tomorrow for Ukraine

May 2, 2023 | By Mark Barnett & Dimitrios Dosis

From the ashes of war, the phoenix of Ukrainian start-ups continues to rise.

In one of the most remarkable demonstrations of courage and resilience ever witnessed in European business, early-stage start-ups in Ukraine increased funding in 2022 by 20% versus 2021.

However, while agility and endurance have driven short–term growth, there is only so much they can withstand the hostility of war. According to TechUkraine, 91% of Ukrainian founders require urgent financial support to ensure the long–term survival of their businesses. 

For as long as the conflict continues, the extraordinary support of Europe’s public and private sectors cannot subside. How we support Ukraine now will impact future generations of Europeans and the region’s global footprint.

Launching Start Path Ukraine

So, 10 months ago, Mastercard took the stage at Money 20/20 Europe – alongside Oleksandr Bornyakov, Ukraine’s Deputy Minister of Digital Transformation – to outline how Mastercard plans to lead fintech support efforts from the front.

In partnership with the National Bank of Ukraine and the Ministry of Digital Transformation of Ukraine, we announced Start Path Ukraine, an initiative designed specifically to support Ukrainian fintechs and entrepreneurs.

Today, we take the next step on this journey. It is our great pleasure to announce that – after a comprehensive process aimed at selecting those that would best support the country’s recovery and growth – we have chosen the five fintechs to join Start Path Ukraine.  

Everyone at Mastercard welcomes AML.point, Electronic KYC, Neofin, RemOnline, and Zhabka to our family. During the next six months, these businesses will receive access to resources, mentoring, networking opportunities, and grants equating to $10,000 each. The ambition? To create digital solutions that will drive economic recovery, growth, and inclusion in Ukraine. 

Building on existing foundations

The launch of Start Path Ukraine represents the next phase of our unwavering commitment to support the country and protect its outstanding contribution to our industry. 

When Russia invaded Ukraine last year, we immediately deployed our network and resources to support those affected – from our own people and partners to citizens and displaced communities – in any way we could.  

In July last year, we launched Where To Stay – an online platform designed to provide Ukrainians in Poland with all the financial and logistical information they need to find their new home. From housing prices to the cost of a weekly shop, we aim to make it as easy as possible for people to decide which Polish town or city would best suit their needs.

We also opened the Diia.Business consultation centre in Warsaw – in partnership with the Ministry of Digital Transformation of Ukraine, the Ministry of Economic Development and Technology of Poland, and the Polish Investment and Trade Agency – to enable displaced start-up founders to access the expertise and resources they need to run their business as usual. 

Of course, our infrastructure has also played a critical role in ensuring those still in Ukraine can make purchases, pay bills, and run businesses with as little interruption as possible.

Thanks to our incredible in–market team, we have continued to service nearly 60 local banks, along with thousands of merchants and millions of consumers across the country. 

We also signed a Joint Statement with the European Commission, World Bank, National Bank of Ukraine, and fellow payment industry leaders to further improve the transparency, cost and accessibility of remittances to Ukraine.

Building a better tomorrow for Ukraine

These are just some examples of how critical our industry can be to the livelihood of those impacted by this conflict. Over 8.1 million Ukrainians left the country in the past year, often leaving behind their documentation and simple access to financial services.  

Thanks to the evolution of fintech in the past few years – including cross–border payments, open banking, and open finance – displaced people have been able to access bank accounts, book accommodation, and tap into other basic financial services at the time when their well–being leant on them most. 

Start Path Ukraine is about more than just supporting Ukraine's start-up scene – it's about empowering its people to rebuild their lives and their country. The five inaugural fintechs represent the vanguard of that effort, and we're proud to welcome them into the Mastercard family.

Together – through inclusion, resilience, and innovation – we can contribute to a brighter future for Ukraine and Europe. 

Mark Barnett & Dimitrios Dosis, Mastercard