Industry experts weigh in on which, if any, of Europe’s fintech hubs might rise to prominence in the aftermath of Brexit.
Industry experts weigh in on which, if any, of Europe’s fintech hubs might rise to prominence in the aftermath of Brexit, as the AltFi Global Summit in Amsterdam looms.
London, a financial services haven with good access to talent and a highly progressive regulator, has long been referred to as a global capital of the fintech sector. But since the UK voted to leave the European Union, commentators have become nigh on paranoid about the possibility of London losing its much-vaunted fintech crown.
On November 7th, for the first time, the AltFi Global Summit will come to Continental Europe. Hosted at the Het Sieraad building in De Baarjes region of Amsterdam, the event will feature many of the biggest names from Europe’s rapidly growing online lending and digital banking sectors, including the likes of Zopa, Klarna, Revolut, Younited Credit, Spotcap and auxmoney.
Among a host of other topics, speakers from these firms will offer their thoughts on the impact of Brexit within the European fintech landscape.
Ronald Kleverlaan, managing director of CrowdfundingHub, a research firm, believes Amsterdam is poised for a period of significant growth.
“Amsterdam is one of the hottest Fintech Hubs in Europe, with a highly educated workforce, international talent and strong financial industry,” he said.
He added that after a decade leading the way in Europe’s alternative finance and fintech sectors, growth in Amsterdam has slowed over the past two years. He attributes this primarily to delays to new regulations in The Netherlands, and to local fintech firms being too focused on competing with one another, rather than broadening their ambitions.
But Kleverlaan sees change on the horizon: “Government is drafting new regulation, funding of VCs is at an all-time high and fintech companies are consolidating and the leading market players are working together to lobby on the local, national and European level with their peers for a level-playing field with the traditional financial industry.”
Meanwhile, Matthew Clannachan, head of investor relations at Estonian P2P lender Bondora, sees growth potential for a number of emergent fintech hubs.
He told AltFi to watch out for Sweden, Denmark and Estonia in particular, as these countries “already have a firm grasp on producing an array of innovative financial companies thanks to a wealth of tech talent, multi-lingual proficiencies and generous government start-up schemes”.
However, he added that he does not see Brexit as the end for London’s run as a global fintech hub.
"London is a globally unique fulcrum due to the critical mass of money and talent it concentrates under an accessible and strong legal system,” he said. “Brexit opens an opportunity for other locations to look at their own infrastructure and challenge themselves to do better; nothing major will fall their way just because of Brexit.”
Lendix, as it happens, became a direct beneficiary of Brexit when it clinched an €18.5m loan funding commitment from the European Investment Bank (EIB) in July of this year. The small business lender has in effect replaced Funding Circle as the EIB’s funding partner, after Funding Circle was forced to abandon a planned multi-billion pound programme with the Bank in the immediate aftermath of the Brexit vote.
Adding weight to de Nonneville’s position was Jeroen Broekema, who in fact heads up Funding Circle’s operations in The Netherlands.
He said that London is by far and away the hub for European fintech, and would remain that way. He said that emerging contenders, such as Amsterdam and Paris, offer other benefits to companies, such as quality of living, but that these “are not necessarily to do with fintech”.
Kleverlaan, Clannachan, de Nonneville and Broekema will each be speaking at the AltFi Global Summit in Amsterdam on November 7th, alongside a host of other speakers. There is plenty of information about the event available on the webpage, and you can register to attend here.