IRIS Open Talks proposed a solution for overcoming the demographic crisis and for growth in the use of digital financial services: improving financial education and increasing the financial literacy of the population.
Assoc. Dr. Georgi Burdarov, geographer and specialist in demography at SU "St. Kliment Ohridski" presented the misconceptions related to the demographic crisis and the possible solutions for getting out of it. He listed facts that paint an unflattering demographic picture of Bulgaria in recent decades.
Here's the negative stats:
Bulgaria is the only country in the world, which in the last more than 30 years is in the top three countries with the highest negative natural growth, and our country is in the unfortunately first place.
Bulgaria leads the world in terms of population mortality.
Bulgaria has the lowest average life expectancy in the EU and the most aging population.
To get out of the crisis, Assoc. Assoc. Dr. Georgi Burdarov presented his 7-component program for the demographic restart of Bulgaria. The seven policy components that need to change, he says, are:
Employment and Income
Burdarov also drew attention to the Roma population, which could be a valuable resource for the economy if the strategy for its inclusion in society is changed. As of 2023, the Roma number about 800,000 people or more than 10% of the population of Bulgaria. Expectations are that by 2050 they will be around 22%. Now about 21.8% of this population is completely illiterate, and only 0.8% have a higher education. The way to involve them is to increase the motivation for better education.
According to Prof. Burdarov, the alarming demographic processes: low reproductive attitudes, declining birth rate, accelerated aging and global displacement of the population are not only characteristic of Bulgaria, but of Europe and the world.
"Societies that manage to respond to these trends in time and adapt to the new conditions will prosper. In this transformation, the biggest battle will be for educated, highly qualified, young people", the teacher believes. And he ended with optimism, pointing to positive examples from his practice.
Demographic changes are also causing changes in the financial sector. New business niches are opening, one of which is Open Banking. Galya Dimitrova, managing partner at IRIS Solutions, provided data on the huge potential for the development of services based on Open Banking in Bulgaria.
There were 10,000 users of services based on Open Banking in 2023 in Bulgaria, according to data from IRIS Solutions.
7.5 million will be Open Banking users in the UK in 2023 according to Statista 2024.
There will be 64 million Open Banking users in 2024 in Europe according to Statista 2024.
This means that 10% of Europe's population will use services based on Open Banking this year. "The expectations are that by 2026 the users in Bulgaria will reach 300,000 people, which is a serious potential", announced Mrs. Dimitrova.
According to her, for our country to become one of the leaders in Southeast Europe and an equal partner of the EU member states in this regard, it is critically important to work on improving the financial literacy of the population.
She debunked some of the misconceptions related to Open Banking that are floating around among Bulgarian consumers. The potential for misuse of sensitive financial information and digital identity theft are reasons why many consumers do not use digital financial services.
Mrs. Dimitrova explained that:
each user is permitted to access their data voluntarily.
each authorization is for a specific recipient and for a specific transaction.
the third party service provider (TPP), such as IRIS Solutions, does not access the data, but only transfers it to the authorized party.
the permit itself has a complex identification and authorization system that protects the end user from abuse.
This is regulated in the Second EU Payments Directive.
The need to increase the financial literacy of the population was the topic of the Mindset Power Talk, the interview conducted by Milena Hadjiivanova with the former vice-prime minister for economic development and former vice-president of the Black Sea Bank for Trade and Development and current professor of finance Prof. Dr. Daniela Bobeva and Stefan Vitanov, co-founder of financial literacy platform BoroBit.
"Everyone can be a minister of their personal finances if they have enough knowledge and if the misconceptions related to finances and personal well-being are broken. Saving in a bank or investing in real estate is not always a suitable hedge against inflation for every person. There are online calculators that calculate the best investment for each specific user. In order to use them, however, there must be accumulated knowledge and they must be acquired in the higher education system", said Prof. Bobeva categorically.
She previewed those from her new personal finance book, due out in February.
“Our BoroBit platform is a financial literacy tool that can help both universities and corporations. Just as employers take care of the physical health of their employees, providing them with cards for sports or additional health insurance, they can also provide them with access to the platform, as care for their financial health", announced Mr. Vitanov.
The BoroBit platform is an example of a practical application of Open Banking, for which IRIS Solutions is a partner.
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Look forward to the presentations from the discussion and a photo gallery!