Ioannis Georgoulas: “The EMI and PI sector on our island is thriving”

An afternoon event organised by the Association of Cyprus Electronic Money and Payment Institutions (ACEMPI) is due to take place at Residence by Occhio in Nicosia at 5pm on Thursday, 28 September.

As well as Ioannis Georgoulas, Chairman, ACEMPI, the professional get-together will feature Constantinos Herodotou, Governor, Cyprus Central Bank and Patrick Papsdorf, Head of Section of Payments Oversight, European Central Bank as speakers.

Georgoulas recently talked to CBN to share the event’s aims as well as his views of the current state of the EMI sector in Cyprus, how the island compares to other locations hosting companies in the industry, and more.

How would you describe the current state of the EMI sector in Cyprus and how do you anticipate it to develop in the coming years? Will consumer behaviour play a role for example?

The EMI and PI sector on our island is thriving. There is a lot of interest from well-known international names and other new establishments to acquire a license in Cyprus. The regulatory and business environment is making this possible. On the one hand we have a Central Bank that understands new technology and the importance of providing grounds for the expansion of fintech and on the other hand, Cyprus is a well-known place for doing business easily, professionally while at the same time being home to well trained and educated personnel in the financial industry. The sector's growth is likely to be influenced by a combination of factors, including both domestic and international dynamics. For example, regulatory environment, technological advancements, global economic conditions, cybersecurity threats and consumer behaviour as you mentioned will play a role. Nevertheless, I’m sure that the development of the electronic money industry will change the way we interact in the coming years.

How does Cyprus compare to others in terms of what services and other facilities it can offer international companies in the sector interested in developing a presence on the island?

Well, there are certain criteria that makes Cyprus a perfect place for the electronic money sector and the financial services companies to establish a presence. First of all, EU membership provides the financial firms with access to EU’s single market. We have a stable legal and regulatory environment, and we offer an attractive tax system having signed double tax treaties with numerous countries. Due to the growing financial services sector that includes banking, financial technology, asset management, and investment services, Cyprus has developed expertise in various financial and technological products and services. There is a business-friendly environment and a well-educated and multilingual workforce, which is widely used in the financial industry. Cyprus is strategically located at the crossroads of Europe, Asia, and Africa, making it an ideal base for financial firms looking to serve clients across these regions and offers a high quality of life, with a Mediterranean climate, beautiful landscapes, a rich cultural heritage, and a safe environment. Last, Cyprus has introduced regulatory enhancements to attract investment funds, making it an emerging fund management hub.

What are some of the main challenges to the positive development of the local Electronic Money and Payment Institutions industry and what are some of the ways you believe these be overcome?

Regulation, cybersecurity, competition, customer trust and market saturation are just some of the challenges that EMIs and PIs face. Those challenges are global though, as we compete in a global economy. I believe that companies should invest in robust compliance systems, implement strong cybersecurity systems, and educate customers, focus on differentiation by providing innovative services and invest in agile technologies. At the same time, as I said before, the challenges are global and so is the market. Companies should look toward international expansion rather than just focus on one country.

Can you tell me more about why ACEMPI was formed and its role in supporting electronic money and payment institutions in Cyprus?

ACEMPI was formed when the stakeholders of this industry realised the growth and dynamics of the sector. It was a real need as the current members needed a formal representation to the local and international community, the state, and the regulators. I will repeat our mission: “The role of the ACEMPI is to promote and develop the electronic money sector in Cyprus and to reinforce cooperation among all stakeholders. In addition to supporting the successful development of the sector by examining and analysing all industry related matters and their impact on the institutions individually and collectively, the ACEMPI is focusing on protecting and representing its members’ rights and professional interests.”

The upcoming ACEMPI afternoon event on 28 September will include addresses by yourself as well as the Central Bank Governor Constantinos Herodotou and Patrick Papsdorf, Head of Section of Payments Oversight, European Central Bank. Can you tell me more about the event’s aims and who can benefit most from attending?

Our most important goal is to get closer to the local community and key stakeholders from the public and private sector. We want to share with them our vision and our goals. The exchange of knowledge and insights among industry professionals, experts, and stakeholders, including sharing best practices, discussing challenges, and exploring opportunities within the electronic money ecosystem is a top priority. We are thankful that the Governor of the Central Bank of Cyprus Mr. Herodotou is considering our efforts and at the same time it is a privilege to host him at our event. As well as the Governor, we are very pleased to welcome in Cyprus and especially to our event Mr. Papsdorf who is the Head of Payments of the European Central Bank. He is an international expert on payments, and he has accepted to join us and our effort to educate the local community.

Organised by ACEMPI, the afternoon event is sponsored by EBOS, Grant Thornton, KPMG, PwC Cyprus, and VISA. Coordinated by IMH, it is also supported by ECOMMBX, G.A.P. Vassilopoulos Group, KoronaPay Europe, Profee, Revsto, SEPAGA, TFI Markets, and Payabl.

Click here to learn more about ACEMPI’s afternoon event and to register.

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