In March of this year the Irish Government made leveraging Ireland’s unique ICT and international financial services clusters so that the country becomes a global leader for fintech a key priority in its new strategy for the international financial services sector – IFS2020.
Leo McAdams, Divisional Manager, ICT and International Services at government agency Enterprise Ireland, says that throughout the financial services industry the focus on and investment in fintech has never been greater.
“The pace of technological change means the financial services sector is seeking competitive advantage via increasing adoption and deployment
of technology. It is disruptive and evolving rapidly,” he says.
In recent years a number of significant fintech investments have been secured by IDA Ireland, including data analytics centres from Aon and Munich Re; cybersecurity centres from Zurich and Liberty Insurance; and software development centres from Fidelity and Pramerica.
Against this backdrop, fintech innovation is becoming pervasive and McAdams notes that innovative Irish start-ups are emerging from the diverse landscape of established local and global players in the international financial services industry and the wider technology sector here.
Enterprise Ireland estimates that there are 220 internationally focused Irish companies operating in the fintech space; a growing number in payments with others offering technology services to the funds industry including risk and compliance solutions.
“Ireland has a number of established fintech companies such as Fineos, CR2 and Fenergo that have used their technology as a differentiator from their international competitors and are winning global market share for their innovative products,” says McAdams.
“Payments companies such as Currency Fair, Taxback, Fexco, Sysnet Global Solutions and Monex are all growing strongly on the back of innovative, world leading payments solutions.”
The start-up rate for Irish fintech companies is accelerating rapidly, he continues. “In 2014, Enterprise Ireland supported 20 early-stage fintech start-ups, which is twice as many than in the previous year and we would see this upward trend continuing.
“We also have a strategy to attract international start-ups to locate in Ireland – our offer includes funding and mentoring for successful applicants.”
McAdams notes that new incubators launched in the Irish market in 2014 such as NDRC Launchpad, Accenture Fintech Labs and Mastercard Start Path Accelerator are all helping to build a pipeline for future fintech innovators and will further drive up the number of start-ups over the coming years.
An important part of the ecosystem is the Governance Risk & Compliance Technology Centre (GRCTC), which was officially launched last year to assist companies in moving towards ‘smart regulation’ in financial services . Funded by Enterprise Ireland and IDA Ireland it is one of a number of industry-led, Government funded technology centres that are designed to achieve competitive advantage for key industries in Ireland.