I can confirm that I am aware of the recent UK report ‘Kalifa Review of UK Fintech’ and its recommendations published in February.
‘Fintech’ is an abbreviation of the words ‘financial technology’ and sometimes also known as ‘digital finance’ which means the delivery of financial services by innovative technology.
I would like to take the opportunity to remind Deputies that fintech is a large part of the whole-of-government strategy on international financial services titled Ireland for Finance published in 2019.
Many of the features of the UK report are already captured in the Ireland for Finance strategy and in the work of the wider actors in the Irish ecosystem (both public and private).
The first pillar of the Ireland for Finance strategy is ‘Operating and Regulatory Environment’ and my Department is currently engaged in shaping a number of regulatory proposals from the European Commission to support digital innovation in financial services, the Digital Finance Strategy and package, launched in September 2020. That strategy aims to stimulate responsible innovation and competition, to enable fintech start-ups to scale up and grow, and ensure that EU financial services rules are fit for the digital age, while managing risks to consumers.
The second pillar of the Ireland for Finance strategy is ‘Technology and Innovation’; and work continues under that pillar to take advantage of the opportunities that fintech and digital finance may offer. World leading companies are developing new products and services from Ireland for global markets, with an exceptional level of collaboration between industry, academia, state agencies and regulatory authorities driving Ireland's dynamic ecosystem.
Indeed, the Ireland for Finance strategy builds on the valuable work on fintech achieved under the previous international financial services strategy, IFS2020, as Deputy Murphy will be very familiar with from his time lead on such matters.
‘Talent’ and ‘Communications and promotion’ are the other two pillars of the Ireland for Finance Strategy and we continue to supply the necessary education for the talent and promote our offering in the fintech space under these pillars.
Ireland’s offering includes an ecosystem that involves access to EU single market and customers, a strong financial services sector and a strong IT sector, with major global firms in both sectors operating in Ireland, a skilled English-speaking workforce, (including access to talent from the European Union and UK under the common travel area), and a highly regarded educational system.
We also have an ‘innovation hub’ run by the Central Bank of Ireland. The Innovation Hub allows fintech firms to engage with the Central Bank of Ireland outside of existing formal regulator/firm engagement processes and is a resource to help innovators navigate the regulatory landscape. The Central Bank wants to hear from firms who are developing or implementing innovations in financial services based on new technologies in order to gain early sight of these technologies and enhance their understanding of potential risks, and importantly, potential mitigants.
Further measures in the fintech area are set out in this year’s Action Plan under Ireland for Finance ‘Building on Resilience’ including a new fintech umbrella group set up in the Department of Finance.