Once a month, our partner and co-Chair of SEV’s Innovation Committee, Marco Veremis hosts innovative Greeks, who excel by achieving increasingly higher goals. His guests unfold their stories and share with us their exciting journey, experiences gathered along the way, but also their recipe for success.

In this second episode of Innovative Greeks Talks, Marco Veremis interviews Haris Karonis, one of the founders of VIVA WALLET, the company that JP MORGAN acquired 49% share at more than 1.5 billion euros valuation.

Viva Wallet is the first Greek unicorn that started as a fintech service provider of electronic transactions and payments and recently evolved into a full-digital neobank. Viva has its entire infrastructure in the cloud and designs apps that turn smartphones into payment systems. Viva Wallet struggled to emerge through the Greek market; however, it remained at its core a fintech company and achieved something that seemed inconceivable. Viva has a commercial presence in 23 countries, and JPM acquired 49% to set foot in Europe and increase its competitive position in the US.

Haris talks to Marco Veremis and Alexis Papahelas about how he started his journey from Peristeri in West Athens to conquer the world of digital banking. He talks about the difficulties he faced in Greece and abroad during an extremely tough period for the country and in an industry where an outstanding reputation is a prerequisite to accomplishing anything. He fought hard, was not disappointed, and used as a compass the quality of his work and his people, the “VIVA mafia,” as he likes to call them.

Spyros and Nikos refer to a critical point in their company’s path to success, which is not very well known. After two years in operation and one day before the 2015 referendum on staying in the euro, they rejected a 100 million acquisition offer. Watch the discussion below and discover how and why they were vindicated against what seemed absurd in those hours.

Haris Karonis, co-founder of Viva Wallet, the first Greek unicorn company