FinTech: What is it all about?

Written by Nickolas Reinhardt on 11 February 2020 in Thought Leader
Thought Leader

Fintech is a sector where Europe can be a global competitor, writes Nickolas Reinhardt

Nickolas Reinhardt | Photo credit: Afore Consulting


Today, there is a lot of hype around FinTech. At Afore Consulting, we are organising our 4th Annual FinTech & Regulation conference in Brussels on 3 March. This will be a truly global event. But what is it all about?

We have seen the rise of market challenger companies that offer users a smoother customer experience when making payments and managing finances online. Some of these companies have become multi-billion-dollar businesses, but not all of them are American.

In fact, Europe has its own success stories to be proud of. The transformation of finance through technology is a fundamental one, although the relationship between finance and technology has always been very close.


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The speed of trading and settlement in capital markets, the rise of e-identification and fraud prevention methods, the way we use mobile phones and the recent excitement about crypto-assets are just some examples for this close relationship. So, what is changing now?

The speed of transformation and the roll out of technologies across the sector has significantly increased. There is nothing sinister about this. It is a mere reflection of how technology is changing all our lives. Efficiency reduces transaction costs and leads to faster and potentially safer delivery of services.

It is not only about speed but also the customer experience. As our lives increasingly move online, so do the services we require. As customers have access to cross-border services, the European Single Market for financial services is becoming more of a reality.

What does this mean for the current European regulatory framework? We are only at the beginning of this discussion. We are exploring the potential of new technologies such as artificial intelligence or distributed ledger technology. Often, we Europeans seem worried about our ability to compete with the US or China.

"As our lives increasingly move online, so do the services we require"

This is not the case for finance. Europe has significant potential. With the right regulatory environment, technology can contribute towards the creation of a genuine Single Market for consumers that could match that of other parts of the world.

What Europe needs is more harmonisation of its rules in some areas, such as anti-money laundering or consumer protection, and better and more pragmatic supervisory cooperation in others.

When it comes to new market developments, Europe should opt for a principles-based and outcome orientated policy response rather than resorting immediately to new Directives or Regulations.

In this context, we would in particular like to commend the European Supervisory Agencies for their measured approach to new technologies in the sector.

Of course, established financial services companies must have the opportunity to compete with the newcomers on a level footing but this should not come at the expense of Europe’s overall global competitiveness or the creation of a truly integrated Single Market.

We look forward to discussing these issues at our conference and to seeing the European Commission’s 2nd FinTech Action Plan later this year.

 

For information about the event, you can visit: https://www.fintech2020.eu/

About the author

Nickolas Reinhardt is co-founder and director at Afore Consulting

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