Why Dublin is a booming FinTech hub

Why Dublin is a booming FinTech hub

Though Dublin might not be top-of-mind when you think of financial technology, Ireland has become a hot spot for this booming industry.

Partner, Head of Technology, Media & Telecommunications Practice

KPMG in Ireland

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When people think of hubs for financial technology, certain places come to mind. London. New York. Hong Kong. But there’s another city that many might not realize is making waves in the space: Dublin. Though Dublin might not be top-of-mind when you think of financial technology, Ireland has become a hot spot for this booming industry.

Financial technology – or “FinTech” – encompasses a wide range of companies. Originally, FinTech described technology used to support financial services, such as specialized software for retail banking or capital markets. Yet over the last few years, the term has taken on wider use and applies to a more innovative range of companies, products and services. Think apps and solutions for crowd funding, payments and transactions, digital currencies, risk and compliance, insurance, trading and much more.

Nearly everyone has heard of big FinTech successes like PayPal – yet many Irish FinTech companies are among the new up-and-comers. Companies like online payment firm Realex Payments, which was acquired by Global Payments, are already globally successful, while companies like CurrencyFair, which offers an innovative currency exchange solution, are already making waves on the international scene. In fact, CurrencyFair raised €10 million in funding in the first half of 2015 and recently announced plans to hire an additional 50 people here at home. Another upcoming player in the Irish FinTech scene is Fenergo, which provides regulatory, data and onboarding solutions for financial institutions. Fenergo  made headlines when they announced a US$75 million investment from an American private equity firm.

So what makes Ireland such a great place for FinTech?

  • The right attitude. Ireland may be a small country, but size doesn’t hold us back. According to the IMD World Competitiveness Yearbook 2015, we’re #1 in the world for our attitude toward globalisation. One needs look no farther than the big FinTech success stories to know that a global outlook is critical in this sector and Irish FinTech companies are internationally focused from day one.
  • Deep talent pool. With a strong financial services sector, a booming tech sector and an emerging specialisation in FinTech, companies based here – or with a significant presence in Ireland – have an advantage when it comes to finding qualified talent. Current numbers have approximately 30,000 people working in financial services and another 100,000 or more in technology, creating a critical mass in both sectors.
  • Accelerators. We’ve seen considerable activity through accelerators specifically looking to support FinTech companies. First, NDRC, an investor in early stage Irish companies, launched its FinTech incubator in the spring of 2014 to support ten early-stage financial services technology startups. Then in 2015, Accenture brought their FinTech accelerator to Dublin, citing the many exciting prospects here in Ireland. That makes Dublin only the fourth city in the world to get this accelerator’s support, following New York, London and Hong Kong. And they are about to do it again in Dublin in 2016.
  • Government support. With FinTech forming a critical part of the Irish government’s plan to develop the country’s financial services sector, it’s clear that opportunities in this area are only going to grow. Ireland’s International Financial Services Strategy, or IFS 2020, creates a strong vision for financial services and FinTech development, with plans to drive job creation and economic growth and to provide ongoing government investment and support.
  • New industry association. The FinTech community has started to organize and collaborate. A new industry association, the FinTech and Payments Association of Ireland, was recently formed with the objective of becoming the representative body for these companies within Ireland. This association is open to businesses at all stages of development and plans to provide support to its members to accelerate their development within Ireland and internationally, and to liaise with the government to ensure that Ireland is and remains a great place to do business.

With the right people, strong financial backing and comprehensive support available from within the community, it’s no wonder that Ireland has ambitions to become a world leader in the FinTech sector.

 

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About the author

Anna advises many early stage Technology and FinTech companies on the challenges around fundraising, structuring shareholding arrangements, rewarding founders and employees and growing global businesses. Anna is a founding member of the Board of the FinTech and Payments association of Ireland which was launched on 14 September 2015.

Anna leads KPMG’s global partnership with Connected Intelligence (or Ci), the company behind Web Summit, F.ounders and their related US and Asian events, Collision and Rise. Anna has been recognised by Silicon Republic Women Invent Tomorrow programme as one of the 100 Top Women in STEM. She was nominated for the Woman Mean Business (WMB) Award for Women in Technology and was nominated one of the Top 30 Women in Tech in Ireland.

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