Számlá Lets the Machine Free the Human


Balázs Ángyán, managing director of Számlá

As the fintech industry evolves rapidly, the 18-year-old Számlá (the name translates as has established itself as a significant presence in Hungary. In an exclusive interview, managing director Balázs Ángyán reveals how it has maintained its market leadership, tackled new market challenges, and adapted to the ever-changing world of digital financial services.

BBJ: To what do you attribute your company’s success?

Balázs Ángyán: We have an internal saying from one of the founding fathers: “Man is too valuable to do a job that a machine can do.” Almost everything that drives the people at Számlá is contained in this single sentence.

We appreciate our customers. Even if they have never paid and never will pay for using Számlá A customer is not someone who makes us money but someone whose life we want to make better.

We do not make our customers work unnecessarily while using the software. If something can be programmed, we fix it, even if it means a lot of work for us and little savings for an individual customer. But with 700,000 customers, even the smallest simplification saves our customers a lot of time.

Otherwise, our experience is that innovation, while important, is not the most important thing to our customers. Much more important is how we treat and think about them. Maybe that is the secret.

Of course, we cannot forget the obligatory elements, such as easy, fast and reliable software, the stability we offer our customers, and compliance with current legislation at all times. These are essential, but they are not enough.

BBJ: What new market needs and challenges has the company identified that have contributed to reaching more than 700,000 customers?

BÁ: It’s clear that the two-step change in legislation in 2018 and 2020 (that is, the obligation to send invoices online) has been a major driver of customer growth. But we could also talk about services that are not so much innovations as market disruptions: for example, the 40% reduction in the price of e-invoices compared to the prices at the time; our autokassza [bank integration] service, which predates the EU regulation by years, our Számla Agent service, which automates invoicing for online shops and larger companies; or our delegated invoicing and self-billing services, which are still shocking the market today. There is no one magic bullet, but there are well-thought-out services that work together to deliver a great customer experience.

BBJ: How have changes in online billing regulations affected the company’s development and innovation strategy?

BÁ: For online software, there should have been no particular technical challenge in meeting the reporting requirements of online invoicing. Moreover, at Számlá, we did not see the change as a problem but a great opportunity. Once the technical criteria for the change in legislation were published, we could complete the developments very quickly, months ahead of the deadline, so we “only” had to focus on the marketing part for a few months. So, there was no significant change to our previous development and innovation strategy.

BBJ: How did the management of Visma Group change the operation and growth plans of Számlá

BÁ: Unlike many large investment companies, Visma strongly believes local markets are best known by local management. That is why, somewhat surprisingly for us, the management team that previously ran Számlá stayed in place when Visma became the 100% owner of Számlá They trust us, support us and help us when we ask for it, but basically, they let us work and accept the strategy proposed by the local management. Visma is a growth-oriented company, but its growth targets and expectations align with what we think is achievable, given our knowledge of the local market.

BBJ: Are there plans for to expand its range of services beyond invoicing?

BÁ: We are reluctant to give any details at the moment, but we can tell you that we are closely following the legislative changes that are already partially or fully known in the market, whether they are related to eVAT, eNyugta or the instant payment system. We now want to support our customers in the digitization and automation of activities related to economic events in a broader sense beyond invoicing.

BBJ: What are the advantages of introducing factoring services for your clients, and what feedback has the company received on these?

BÁ: In a more challenging economic environment like the one we are currently experiencing, companies find that maintaining liquidity requires more work, attention and possibly more financial investment than in good years. A factoring service is a great help for companies to ensure they have access to their invoices as soon as possible after they are issued, either the same day or the next day. What is innovative about the joint service between Számlá and our factoring partner Flexibill is that it has made this service, which was previously only available to medium- and large-sized companies and required a lot of administration, infinitely easier and accessible to hundreds of thousands of small businesses. We have received excellent feedback and have already invoiced hundreds of millions of forints to our customers despite the short time since the service was launched.

BBJ: How does the new digital debt management service provide specific legal support to clients in case of overdue receivables?

BÁ: The automatic payment reminder service has been available on Számlá for quite some time. However, the digital debt management service introduced this year has taken it to a new level. From the polite reminder, even before the due date, to the legal action, the process is almost entirely automated. Returning to the previous question, in a tougher economic environment, it is not only our own businesses that may struggle to maintain liquidity but also our partners. And experience shows that those who manage their receivables more consciously and, if necessary, more vocally get their money sooner. So now, unfortunately, this service is particularly relevant. Kft., the company behind Számlá, was founded in 2004. The following year, initially growing out of a need for its three IT founders to issue their own invoices to clients quickly and easily, Számlá was launched as an online invoicing service. According to the company history, the first invoice was issued on Aug. 11, 2005, at 12:08 p.m. By October 2009, 500 companies were registered in its system. Five years later, it was the first on the market to provide an easy, simple e-invoicing service for SMEs at an affordable price: the first e-invoice issue was issued on March 10, 2010, at 9:35 a.m., and the company started to grow in earnest. In 2018, Visma, the leading provider of business software and e-commerce IT development in the Nordic region, joined the founders of Számlá as an owner.

This article was first published in the Budapest Business Journal print issue of December 1, 2023.


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