Collaboration high on the agenda at first ever Fintech Focus NI

Just a week after payments fintech DailyPay announced a £24m investment in Belfast, Ireland’s fintech community came together in Belfast’s historic City Hall for The Fintech Corridor’s first ever Fintech Focus NI event.

The Fintech Corridor’s first ever Fintech Focus NI event brought together some of the leading lights from fintech across the island of Ireland and beyond to discuss how we can drive development and collaboration through European and UK fintech connectivity.

The Fintech Corridor’s CEO, Hilary Moran and Chair, Simon Bailie, opened the event by sharing the great work the cluster is doing to bring together fintechs, academia and development agencies to boost collaboration and drive the industry forward.

Established in 2020, The Fintech Corridor is a cluster of FinTech companies, academic institutions, and development agencies along the Dublin to Belfast route. The Fintech Corridor promotes the region as a hub for FinTech and a gateway for companies looking to expand on the island of Ireland.

They discussed two key projects The Fintech Corridor is involved in:

DigiAdvance – This project aims to address digital skills gaps in the SME sector through the provision of low-cost, demand-driven, tailored training in key digital technologies for SME owners, managers and employees. 

FINE – The EU-funded FINE project aims to connect Fintech ecosystems globally and promote collaboration between investors and startups. This collaboration will support innovation, facilitate cross-border expansion and establish a thriving investment environment.

After the opening, we then had a panel on growing NI & Irish fintech through European collaboration which featured Alan McEneaney, vice-chair of The Fintech Corridor and part of PayPal’s EMEA Outsource Partner Billing, Invoice and Strategy Management team.

The discussion focused heavily on the recruitment challenges facing financial services and fintech firms across Europe and ways to plug the skills gap including closer collaboration with universities, short online courses and apprenticeship opportunities.

Other sessions included a conversation on communicating effective compliance which covered artificial intelligence, keynote speeches from Richard Swales, Chief Risk & Compliance Officer at PaySafe on new technologies such as network tokenisation, and Alison Currie, Director of Innovation & Entrepreneurship at InterTradeIreland, before the launch of a new platform for qualification passporting by First Derivatives and Pearsana.

Invest NI’s Karen Bradbury also took to the stage to provide an overview of Northern Ireland’s finance and fintech sector. Karen highlighted that the economic development agency had supported over 10,000 businesses and helped deliver 61,000 new jobs.

Karen shared insights into the first significant foreign investments from finance firms in Northern Ireland since the Good Friday/Belfast Agreement in 1998 and how they sowed the seeds for future growth.

Allstate, Liberty Mutual, Halifax (now Lloyd’s) and Abbey National (now Santander) were the first to move to Northern Ireland following the peace agreement and are still represented in Belfast today.

Karen also talked about indigenous finance firms such as First Derivative which was set up by Brian Conlon in the 90s from his mother’s spare bedroom with a loan of £5,000 from the Newry Credit Union. It’s now a huge success story and a global technology powerhouse.

Fast forward to today, and DailyPay follows a long line of international firms setting up shop in Belfast. Huge firms like Deloitte and PwC now have offices in Belfast, while Citi employs 4,000 people.

Ireland now has specialisms in capital markets, insurtech, regtech and compliance and data analytics and AI, boasting both established international firms and smaller disruptors.

In 2023, Chatsworth opened its Belfast office to tap into the city’s thriving fintech scene and deep pool of talent. We have had the pleasure of supporting fintechs across Ireland and look forward to deepening our connections here and growing the island’s reputation as a flourishing fintech hub.

While we aren’t as established as some of the major fintech clusters around the UK and Europe, it feels like there is real momentum growing behind the fintech scene here.

By being ambitious and looking beyond our local ecosystem, telling our story in the right way via the right channels, we can create huge opportunities across the island of Ireland and really put ourselves on the map as a great place for fintechs to grow and prosper.


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