BRUSSELS, 18 March 2019 – WSBI-ESBG organised on 13 March its first-ever FinTech Female Roundtable in Brussels. Supported by Fintech Ladies, Cosmo Element, Fintech Belgium and B-Hive, the event focused on the theme “Enhancing Collaboration in Financial Technology".
Both men and women who attended the event heard examples from women in financial services on how collaboration can be made successful. Various perspectives were given on the FinTech topic from a regulatory, consulting, bank and startup view. The roundtable exchange that followed provided a chance to interact and discuss the event topics more in depth.
The late-afternoon roundtable kicked off with welcoming remarks by Natalie Staniewicz, who leads Innovation & Business Development at WSBI-ESBG: “With this event we want to shine light on the various viewpoint of FinTech (meaning “Financial Technology") – from the perspective of a regulator, bank, startup and consulting firm. But we also want to show that the FinTech world is much more diverse than we often see in the conferences or events – the aim is to highlight some successful women with expertise in FinTech"
Maja Gostovic, Product Owner & Squad Leader plug in integrations from George Labs (Erste Group ) presented her experience on how to integrate banking and FinTech by showcasing the example of the George platform and their Plug in concept and API approach. “Customer centricity means we should collaborate" echoed throughout the presentation which shared some key learnings from the George journey.
Presentation of Jekaterina Govina, Advisor to the Board of the Bank of Lithuania, explained how regulators can collaborate and approach the FinTech topic to support financial innovation in the interests of consumers: “Instead of being only a watchdog we decided to help financial companies by taking a partnership approach. We guide, accelerate innovation and set an example".
Nina Hülsken, Managing Director of Cosmo Element, shed the light on the challenges of making collaboration successful while outlining some key areas where partnerships between corporates and startups in finance can bring strategic value: “to improve customer experience, create and strengthen capabilities, reduce fraud, expand product lines or close gaps, reach new customer segments or expand geographically"
Patricia Boydens, Chief Commercial Officer of Harmoney, showcased the FinTech state of play in Belgium while sharing experiences from the startup point of view: “Issues surrounding new vs old technology, in-house IT teams, security and trust, available data and deep data mining and a fast changing regulatory landscape – these are only some challenges that need to be overcome to reap the opportunities of corporate – startup partnerships"
The speakers' session ended with the announcement of the launch of the Fintech Ladies initiative in Brussels.
Headquartered in Berlin, Fintech Ladies is a network for women in the finance and tech industry. It operates in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and, since the FinTech Female event, in Belgium too.
The discussions on collaboration between different stakeholders continued during the roundtable exchanges which focused on three main topics:
• Collaboration in the FinTech ecosystem – challenges and opportunities for corporate – startup partnerships, facilitated by Fabian Vandenreydt and Raf de Kimpe (B-Hive)
One aspect discussed was the type of collaboration which depends highly on risk perception of the two parts - a partnerships being not only a mutually beneficial relationship, but also one where the two parts consider one another as equal for the scope of the partnership (compared to subordinated relationship when one part sets the conditions from a dominance perspective (e.g. acquisition, supply of services). Inter-bank collaboration was also highlighted – the idea being that banks which currently need to focus highly on effectiveness should look into aspects where they can join forces and take part in bank-bank initiatives where several partners can benefit from the same technology, service or partnership with external parties such as startups.
• Regulator – Bank & FinTech collaboration: best practices and learnings, facilitated by Catherine Houssa (Simont Braun)
Regulatory policies in Financial Technology were named as important to ensure a level playing field, consumer protection, avoid abuses and guarantee an adequate implementation. Equal access and market pluralism considerations should go hand in hand with financial stability while considering that the market should also not become too fragmented. Various policy initiatives such as sandboxes were discussed and the importance for regulators to foster a sharing of best practices (between market actors, regulators-with FinTech stakeholders and between various national regulators at European level) was highlighted.
• Collaboration at Leadership level: how to strengthen diversity in finance and at Board level, facilitated by Nina Hülsken (Cosmo Element)
Participants agreed that empowering women is a process that needs Leadership from the top - board members and managers should raise awareness for diversity and women participation at leadership level. A good way to promote new female leaders can be to focus on hard facts, such as the economic costs of missing diversity within the corporate environment. Existing best practices solutions and cooperation opportunities were also highlighted, e.g. the initiative “No women, no panel", supported by European Commissioner Mariya Gabriel, or the Scandinavian initiative TackaNej where male experts decline to take part in non-diverse panels.
After an afternoon of discussing FinTech, diversity and tech followed by networking drinks – we are happy to call our first FinTech Female Roundtable a fruitful success!
You can download the presentations of the keynote speeches or check the photo gallery and the event page.
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