What does Ireland’s fintech sector need? What are its strengths? What can be improved? Enterprise Ireland hopes to answer these questions and more with its Fintech Census.
This summer, Enterprise Ireland set upon a mission to map the fintech ecosystem of Ireland with a survey of the sector. The Fintech Census initiative that kick-started this plan forms part of the Government’s IFS 2020 Action Plan for 2018.
“One of the biggest positives about the census is that it is a collaborative effort, led by Enterprise Ireland, with support from key stakeholders in the sector, including IDA Ireland, Banking and Payments Federation of Ireland (BPFI), Fintech and Payments Association of Ireland (FPAI), Financial Services Ireland (FSI) and Fintech Ireland,” said Eoin Fitzgerald, senior adviser for fintech at Enterprise Ireland.
‘Irish fintech companies are thinking internationally from day one, which is why there are so many impressive fintechs coming out of Ireland’
– EOIN FITZGERALD
The survey invites input from all Irish and international fintech companies operating in Ireland. EY Ireland has partnered with Enterprise Ireland on the preparation of the report, having carried out similar analysis across the UK, Australia and ASEAN regions.
Fitzgerald gave us more information on the survey and what this research can deliver, as well as an overview of the Irish fintech sector as it stands.
What’s your assessment of the fintech sector in Ireland?
Ireland has a thriving fintech sector with approximately 200 to 300 companies in the space. We have some of the largest Irish fintechs such as Fexco, Taxback etc as well as the international names such as Stripe, Square etc. Because Ireland is a small but well-connected market, the Irish fintech companies are thinking internationally from day one, which is why there are so many impressive fintechs coming out of Ireland.
In terms of key players or influencers, you can’t look past the partners of this particular initiative – IDA Ireland, BPFI, FPAI, FSI and Fintech Ireland – as they are all key players in supporting and developing the Irish fintech sector in a number of ways.
How do you think this compares to other countries, particularly the US and the UK?
I think what sets Ireland apart from the UK and other markets is that, while Ireland hosts all of the large multinational companies, none compete for customers in Ireland, enabling extraordinary levels of collaboration. It also allows Irish fintechs an unrivalled ability to secure expertise. Many of Ireland’s fintech founders know first-hand the pinch points of the sector, having held senior positions.
Which fintech companies on the scene would you single out as ones to watch?
From an Irish point of view, we have some fantastic companies in the regtech space that are providing solutions across the globe, such as Corlytics, AQMetrics, Know Your Customer and Governor Software, to name a few. I would also give a shout out to Aid:Tech, which is using blockchain technology to support the distribution of aid across the globe in a transparent manner that ensures the right people get the right support.
From an international point of view, it is fascinating to see the growth of true disruptive companies such as Stripe, Revolut, Lemonade, Robinhood etc.
As a fintech adviser, what are the most common roadblocks you find fintechs encounter and how do you help them overcome them?
The sales cycle in the fintech space can be long, especially when selling into large banks and financial institutions. It can also be difficult identifying the right person in these organisations who has the authority to purchase the product. The experience of our sector team and international teams, and the deep relationships internationally, are where Enterprise Ireland can offer the most support in relation to this. We are also quick to guide our clients on managing their expectations around time taken to close deals etc, so that they can manage cash flow, projections and pipeline with regard to this.
What kind of supports does Enterprise Ireland provide to fintech companies?
Enterprise Ireland offers a wide range of supports to companies in the space, ranging from equity investment and financial supports, to ‘soft’ supports when expanding in international markets through our 33 offices. We also offer a wide range of training and development programmes to upskill senior management and sales teams. We also use our extensive connections and network to help companies make progress internationally.
How will a data-gathering exercise such as the Fintech Census help to improve these supports?
The census aims to provide a crucial fact-base for fintech companies, investors, policymakers and other stakeholders on the scope, scale and strategic positioning of the fintech sector in Ireland, and to chart its growth. In addition to informing future policy across the areas of tax, employment, regulation and investment, the completed census report will allow a comparison of the Irish fintech sector to other leading fintech hubs, and highlight areas where Ireland needs to improve.
To add your contribution to the Fintech Census, click here.