Kyiv startup yoCard enters Russian market as first step to international expansion

Disregarding the current tensions between Ukraine and Russia, yoCard, a Kyiv (Kiev) -based startup developing a virtual mobile wallet application to store customer loyalty and discount cards, has made public its first steps on the Russian market as part of its international strategy. This strategic move has already been done or is under consideration by many other Ukrainian startups due to the proximity and cultural similarities between the two markets.

“We have some good deals coming on board and we do have further plans to penetrate the Russian market based on my experience in Ukraine,” said the startup’s CEO Maksim Masiliy in an exchange with Ukraine Digital News.

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Ukrainians have more than 40 million social network accounts, Russian sites still dominate the market

According to research by Yandex Ukraine, Ukrainians have created 40 million accounts on popular social networks like Odnoklassniki, Vkontakte (VK.com), Facebook, and Twitter as of summer 2014. Russian social networks still dominate the market, as 27 million accounts have been created on Vkontakte and 11 million have been created on Odnoklassniki, as opposed to only 3.2 million Ukrainian accounts on Facebook and 430,000 on Twitter.

Not only is Vkontakte the leading overall service, but it leads the rankings in nearly every region (oblast). Only in the Donetsk region is Odnoklassniki more popular. Based on the number of accounts created, Vkontakte is most popular in the Kyiv (Kiev), Dnipropetrovsk (Dnepropetrovsk), and Lviv (Lvov) regions.

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Ukraine’s first VC association aims to be “the front door for foreign investors”

Illustrating a willingness to reshape and open their industry to the global market, Ukraine’s venture capitalists have launched their own association. Joining the initiative are 30 industry players including not only such major Ukrainian funds as AVentures Capital, Horizon Capital, TA Venture or Vostok Venture, but also the EBRD and the Ernst & Young Venture Capital Excellence Center.

Christened UVCA (Ukrainian Venture Capital and Private Equity Association), the organization held its founding meeting on Friday, August 22.

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Russian subsidiary of Poland’s Asseco launches division in Crimea to serve local banking sector

Banking and finance software developer R-Style Softlab, based in Russia and owned by Polish company Asseco, is opening a new division in Crimea. Its office will be in Sevastopol.

The department will specialise in software development for the banking sector, particularly banks located within Crimea and nearby regions. The company expects that by the end of the year at least 50 Russian financial organisations will have opened up offices on the peninsula, all of them potential clients.

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Kiev police testing new online tracking platform for resident queries

Police in Ukraine’s capital city of Kiev (Kyiv) are testing a new innovation that allows residents to track queries made to the police through an online platform. As reported by Ukrainian online publication AIN.UA, the initiative is part of a growing state strategy to liberalize and digitalize the relationship and interactions between citizens and government apparatus.

The police requests tracking system, currently running in test mode, functions thus: when a city resident calls the police number 102 from a mobile phone, an SMS with the number of the query is then registered and made available to the caller. The caller can then use the tracking number to locate their query on the police website and oversee progress.

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Ukrainian startup Ritot accused of fraud after raising $1 million on Indiegogo

Ritot, a Ukrainian startup seeking crowdfunding on Indiegogo for a what they present as the “first projection watch,” has raised a considerable amount of funding, but garnered criticism and accusations of fraud in the process. With less than a week left in their Indiegogo campaign, the company has far surpassed its original target of $50,000 by taking in over $1 million from more than 6,000 backers.

According to Ukrainian tech blog AIN.UA, backers have begun to accuse the company of offering more than they can deliver. Some even doubt of the identity of Ritot’s founders and of the very existence of the technology required to develop the expected product.

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IT outsourcing company Ciklum comes out in support of new Ukrainian military tax

Staff at Ciklum, one of the largest IT-companies in Ukraine, have been suggested to transfer 1.5% of their salary to the needs of the military operations in Eastern Ukraine against pro-Russian insurgents. The proposal was made by the founder and director of Ciklum, Torben Majgaard, who sent an open letter to his employees regarding the issue, reports AIN.UA.

Ciklum’s announcement comes on the back of a change to the country’s Tax Code earlier this month made by the Ukrainian parliament (Rada), whereupon the wages of working citizens will be subject to a military fee of 1.5% until January 1, 2015. The funds will be used to finance the armed forces. However, according to Torben, most developers working at Ciklum, and within the IT industry as a whole, will not be impacted by the new tax legislation.

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Russia’s Quadro Capital Partners and Forex Club ready to invest in Ukraine

Last week Russian venture fund Quadro Capital Partners (FXC-QCP VC) and online trading service provider Forex Club announced investment plans in the field of Internet trading on the international stock market. The target geography includes Russia, Ukraine, other states of the former Soviet Union, and Europe.

The total volume of investments could reach up to $200 million, a Forex Club executive told the Russian news agency Interfax, with a planned amount of investment of up to $50 million per one project. Both acquisitions with further integration into Forex Club and capital injections in independent companies are under consideration.

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Ukraine could block Russian “propaganda websites”

The Ukrainian authorities may block Russian web resources which they believe to be responsible for propaganda, as well as those linked to the Donbass insurgency.

“At the moment we are working at both the legal and technical level in order to follow the examples of Israel, America and China, closing down sites which pose a threat to our people,” said interior ministry aid Anton Gerashchenko earlier this week.

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Report: Illegal importation of IT-related products causes huge losses to Ukrainian budget

Last week the analytical firm IDC reported that losses in potential VAT revenue from the illegal importation of IT-related products, such as tablets, laptops, and phones from $233 million in 2013. Moreover, this figure does not take into account the related losses borne by the state when refunding nonexistent VAT to unscrupulous importers.

For the first half of 2014, losses to the budget decreased following a lower amount of  equipment imported and a slight decrease in the illegal importation of equipment.

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