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The Foreign Investors Council and EBRD Hosted Conference On Financial Services

The Foreign Investors Council of Serbia, in cooperation with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), organised the second conference on financial services: DEVELOPMENT OF FINANCIAL SERVICES: CHALLENGES AND OPPORTUNITIES.

The conference focused on the continued digitalisation and green financing, with the intention of intensifying dialogue between the public and private sectors to present new solutions that can improve the efficiency and security of digital financial services, as well as raise awareness of the importance of implementing the concept of “green financing”. This concept stems from the increasing need to shift the focus from profit as the primary, and often sole, goal of investing to goals that include sustainable development and environmental protection for the benefit of all stakeholders, especially the citizens of the Republic of Serbia.

The conference was opened with introductory speeches by members of the Executive Board of the Council, Zoran Petrović, President of the Executive Board of Raiffeisen Bank Serbia, and Matteo Colangeli, EBRD Director for the Western Balkans, as well as an address by the Governor of the National Bank of Serbia, Jorgovanka Tabaković.

Zoran Petrović, member of the Executive Board of the Council and President of the Executive Board of Raiffeisen Bank Serbia, reminded attendees of the important role of digitalisation and the implementation of innovative solutions in achieving the main objectives of the EU’s financial services regulatory framework. These objectives include ensuring financial stability and adequate protection of consumers, investors, and policyholders. He further noted that global trends are placing increasing importance on the concept of “green financing”. “We can expect further complexity in the mechanisms for controlling and verifying green projects, as well as the development of non-financial reporting criteria, which will further highlight the need for constant alignment of domestic regulations with EU regulations, the introduction of innovative solutions, and the intensification of cross-sectoral dialogue and strengthening cooperation between the public and private sectors,” Petrović emphasised.

In his introductory address, Matteo Colangeli, EBRD Director for the Western Balkans, stated: “We are pleased to have joined forces with the Foreign Investors Council in organising this event and honoured by the participation of the National Bank of Serbia.” He added, “Every year, we direct over 300 million euros into the real economy in Serbia through the financial sector, and supporting its resilience and stability is a key priority for us. Looking ahead, we are working on introducing new products that specifically target the two main themes of this conference, green and digital transition, as well as risk-sharing instruments with our partner financial institutions.”

Governor Tabaković opened the conference, highlighting: “Sustainable growth is not achieved through sprints or marathons alone, as our work does not have final victories. Words are the beginning, but only actions and results speak for all of us. In the spirit of the first panel’s title – let everyone transition from words to action. The working method of the National Bank of Serbia will remain the same – actions!”

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Members of the Foreign Investors Council have significantly contributed to the development of the financial services sector in Serbia by initiating numerous innovations and improvements to existing solutions, which have already been implemented or are expected to be implemented in the near future. These include the introduction of qualified cloud-based signatures, real-time online fiscalisation and e-invoicing, the introduction of the first registered electronic identification scheme, enabling monthly bill payments and purchases in retail stores and online shops through the national IPS (Instant Payment System) using QR codes, and the introduction of electronic promissory notes for legal entities and entrepreneurs. These advancements, made by relevant institutions, especially the NBS, during the pandemic, will have a lasting positive impact on enhancing the competitiveness of the Serbian economy.

The panel discussions were moderated by Dušan Lalić (Generali Osiguranje)

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