OVER 50% OF REVENUES FROM OVERSEAS

Portugal 2019 | TELECOMS & IT | VIP INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Daniel Araújo, CEO of Asseco PST, on overseas revenue streams, IT services, and Asseco Academy.

What are the key achievements and milestones during the company's evolution in Portugal?

Our first key milestone was that we were the first and only core banking software firm that was ever founded in Portugal. Another key achievement of our company is the fact that two years after our inception in 1988, we became an international firm. From the very beginning of our firm we were focused on pursuing an active international expansion.

What makes Asseco unique for its global and Portugal operations?

The core component is that we have been working in the financial sector for approximately 30 years; this enabled us to followed the evolution of the sector over the last three decades. As far as differentiation is concerned, the global nature of our group allows us to leverage the experience of member companies present in other markets. We, Asseco PST, are present in eight markets, Asseco Group is present in more than fifty countries and this enables us to gain knowledge from other markets and bring it to Portugal.

What are the main directions and areas of focus for the group's R&D efforts?

There are a variety of focuses, including the internet of things, digitalization, AI, cybersecurity and many other areas. Our aim is to continue working very actively in these areas and continue our investment so as to try to capture opportunities that will naturally arise as some of these technologies become more widely implemented.

How would you asses the company's financial performance?

In Portugal, we have been doing extremely well for the past several years, and this is also true globally. If we were to dissect our latest turnover levels, we have to remember that even though Asseco PST is based in Portugal, more than 50% of our revenues come from overseas. Besides Portugal, we also have operations in Angola, Mozambique, Cape Verde, São Tomé and Príncipe, Namibia, Malta, and East Timor.

Which line of banking IT services generate the most revenue?

If you look at our entire portfolio, you see that we are an end-to-end provider for banks. Some of these banks have been with us for a long time, and we can provide products and services that range from core banking systems to internet banking or mobile apps. Establishing and running the core banking systems is naturally an area of heavy investment, particularly because regulation has a large impact on this area, and there are constant changes occurring. Digital transformation projects have also become a very important part of our offer and a significant source of our company revenue.

What opportunities do you see in the IT sector in Portugal?

We have witnessed several changes in the Portuguese tech sector over the last five years. Big players have all moved into the country, which puts a huge demand on talent. The fact that the Portuguese economy is not producing as many software engineers as the market demands only increases this pressure. We were originally founded in Funchal, Madeira, and we still keep our main software development center there. We have around 150 employees in Funchal and approximately 200 in Lisbon. As far as opportunities are concerned, I would say that in Portugal, like in many other Western European countries, there are many opportunities related to Digital Transformation projects. GDPR has also been a great opportunity this year and, specifically in the financial sector, there will be opportunities in fields related to open banking and PSD2.

Are you planning to widen your areas of focus even further?

At present, our idea is to have as broad a portfolio as the general Asseco group has, which is really A-Z offering of services. We will try to engage opportunities that arise across the market in Portugal and in the many markets in which we are present. Our group is also actively looking for opportunities for growth via acquisition. We love great opportunities, and we are looking to engage with them.

How would you evaluate the talent evolving through your training program, Asseco Academy?

You have to remember why we created the academy in the first place. This was focused more on the Portuguese speaking markets we operate in rather than on Portugal itself. While there is a shortage of qualified talent in Portugal, there is an ever-greater shortage in some of the other markets where we also operate. We decided to create the Academy in order to engage with the sector as best we could so as to promote the available talent. This enabled us to help more people qualify so more opportunities could be developed. Overall, we consider this program to have been an excellent success.

What does it mean for Asseco to have won the OutSystems Innovation Award?

We invested a lot on our own internal systems, so we could increase our internal efficiency. We are extremely proud of this award because it reflects our sustainable developments toward greater efficiency.

What is your goal for the next few years in order to utilize the company's new office?

Before we opened this office, we had opened another office in Funchal where we had also doubled our capacity. Our goal is to continue engaging with our customers while also being on the lookout for new opportunities, which includes entering new markets. With the help of Asseco Group, we are looking at opportunities in Slovakia and other countries in central Europe where we think we have an interesting offer. Our growth has been such that we expect to need even more space in the coming years.

How would you assess the potential for further growth in 2019?

The growth perspectives are good, and we have interesting projects in the pipeline that will keep us busy until mid-2019. We are excited about 2019 for our operations in Portugal and international markets. Our main strength is that we consider ourselves to be one of the most experienced software company operating in the financial services sector in Portugal.