Ireland’s growing role in the fintech revolution generates €658m in exports

When it comes to technology and innovation, Ireland has earned a strong reputation as being an industry leader on the global stage, and our growing fintech capabilities are quickly becoming world-class. Fintech has enabled change to a traditional industry, changing our lives and the world of finance, by providing a plethora of alternatives with Ireland playing a pivotal role in this evolution.

he pandemic has, like in many industries, proven to be an accelerant in terms of the pace of innovation. Unprecedented global demands in recent years have led to increased fintech adoption. Now, as we continue to emerge from the pandemic and subsequent restrictions, the global financial technology sector continues to grow exponentially, and it’s also creating positive change in the industry alongside evolving consumer behaviours.

The future is set to revolve around cryptocurrencies, embedded finance, Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and sustainable finance, with many big tech players pivoting into this space. New innovations will be needed and Ireland’s fintech companies are ready to act.

Ireland is a global technology hub, eight of the top 10 global software companies have their European headquarters in Ireland and it is home to more than 250 of the world’s leading financial services firms. Ireland has become the breeding ground for a world-class crop of innovative fintech leaders and Enterprise Ireland is currently supporting over 255 Irish fintech companies expand in international markets, with €658m exports in 2020.

Transferring money across borders used to be a cumbersome task until Kilkenny-based Transfermate, a B2B payments technology company, opened our eyes to seamless cross-border payments, providing a faster, easier, and lower cost solution. Transfermate is Ireland’s latest ‘unicorn’, currently valued at $1bn and is the first Irish female-led unicorn in the state.

Digital wallets have taken the world by storm and, as a result of the pandemic, are the new norm. According to a BOIPA survey, 63pc of Irish consumers prefer cashless payments.

CleverCards, a Dublin based digital payments company, is supporting this movement by providing payment software applications to businesses enabling anyone, anywhere to be paid instantly via Apple/Google pay enabled digital Mastercards.

Financial crime continues to be a key challenge for the sector, heightened by evolving regulations, and pressure for increased customer experience. Fenergo, another Enterprise Ireland-backed unicorn, is leading the way to combat this by providing digital solutions for Know your Customer (KYC) and client lifecycle management (CLM) and has recently strengthened its AML transaction monitoring offering with the acquisition of Dutch start-up Sentinels.

Europe is paving the way for an inclusive fintech ecosystem. And one of the key drivers behind the rapid growth of fintech in Europe is the spread of open banking, as mandated by the European Union’s Revised Payment Service Directive, PSD2.

Europe’s position as a global regulatory leader, allied to Enterprise Ireland’s active investment in innovative startups, has provided fertile conditions for Ireland to develop its world class Regtech cluster. Irish companies, both established and startups, leading the way include Daon, ID-Pal, Know your Customer, DX Compliance, My Compliance Office, to name just a few.

The EU’s standardised regulation has increased the export playing field and Europe is an extension of the domestic market. Irish fintech companies must capitalise on the opportunities and the Dutch market, in particular, serves as a gateway to Europe due to similarities with Ireland, innovation, and openness.

Europe’s largest fintech conference, Money 2020, recently took place in Amsterdam. And 17 Enterprise Ireland fintech backed companies travelled to the Netherlands to participate in the three-day event. Six of those companies, AssureHedge, Daon, Fenergo, ID-Pal, Transfermate and WhenThen exhibited, flying the Irish flag.

Minister of State with responsibility for Financial Services, Credit Unions and Insurance, Seán Fleming attended to promote Ireland as a key source of fintech innovation across Europe and further afield.

Enterprise Ireland is committed to the development and ambition of the Irish fintech sector, and key events like Money2020 allow us to be part of the wider fintech movement.

Emily Gallen is senior market adviser, Fintech, Digital Technologies & Services at Enterprise Ireland Benelux in Amsterdam

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