In Ukraine, where the government forcibly closed more than 90 failing banks just a few years ago, consumers have been rightly concerned about the security of their savings.
During the height of the bank closures millions of Ukrainians were affected not only by spiking interest rates and alarming currency inflation, but also the constant worry that they would be unable to access the savings they had once entrusted to banks.
In 2016, in the midst of the shutdowns, Stas Gontovoy and co-founder Ivan Lukash made their own attempt to help Ukrainians navigate the unpredictable financial sector. They started by collecting all available data from banks’ financial reports, and created a tool that could calculate a “financial stability score” for any bank operating in Ukraine.
What started as a simple scoring tool has evolved into a comprehensive comparison platform for insurance and banking products, under the name and domain “hotline.finance.” True to the original vision, the platform continues to serve as a source of financial knowledge for the everyday Ukrainian, providing analysis and insight into banks’ performance as well as advice on personal finances.
Pioneering online banking in Ukraine
After the banking crisis, the Ukraine government passed legislation, called BankID, that allows banks and insurance companies to sell products and issue policies online. With this change, Ukrainians living anywhere in the country now have greater access to important services that previously were much more challenging to learn about and purchase. Gontovoy says that hotline.finance is hoping to build on this development by helping financial institutions offer services online - after all, their platform is already a place where customers comparison-shop.
“Hotline.finance can be a valuable way for financial institutions to reach new customers,” he says.
With the grant award from MetLife Foundation and Village Capital, Gontovoy plans to build out a new educational module for their platform, with the goal to strengthen financial literacy amongst users.
“The online financial market is only at its infancy in Ukraine, so we still have the power to shape and transform services in a way that will really improve people’s lives,” said Stas. “Any Ukrainian, regardless of where they may be in the country, should have access not only to financial products but also to trustworthy and reliable information about the institutions that they are confiding in,” he said.