There’s ne’er oft a day goes by without another news story alluding to Ireland’s thriving tech scene. Whether it’s another big brand move to the country or another game-changing innovation emerging from it, Ireland is having its own moment in the tech spotlight, and it’s showing no signs of slowing down. Today we’re exploring the fintech revolution in Ireland – why it’s happening and who’s driving it.
The recent news that €4.5bn worth of new data centre hubs are to be built in Ireland come 2025 was surely no surprise – this country’s serious about digital development, and growth is the name of the game. Micro bubbles and heart-health, quantum technologies and income streaming, there’s no shortage of the extraordinary technological developments that have their origins in the emerald isle, but there’s one sector that’s dominating the headlines more than any other right now, and that’s Fintech. From crypto and blockchain to RegTech and WealthTech and FinOps to payments, there’s been a veritable explosion of next gen fintech innovators that have their eyes firmly on our financial futures – and shaking up the traditional financial services sector in the process. So what’s driving this Fintech innovation-spurt, and who’s worth watching in this increasingly busy space? Read on!
Ireland: Innovation and its unique ecosystem
Our go-to tech database for Ireland, TechIreland, currently lists over 2248 Irish tech innovators, 170 of which fall into the Fintech bracket. That’s a big slice of the innovation pie! But if we dig deeper, Ireland isn’t exactly new to fintech. With a financial services workforce of over 30,000, and another (very impressive) 100,000+ working in technology, we’ve got a very healthy ecosystem that’s about as favourable as it gets for growth.The distinctive combination of a savvy tech talent pool with solid finance and tech backgrounds, and a very proactive government committed to its backing and support, is enabling a tsunami of fintech startups to collaborate and thrive across an incredibly growth-focused environment – with unprecedented results.
What: Blockchain is mostly known as the enabling technology of cryptocurrency- but it does more than that … a lot more than that. From enabling people to vote, to providing ID to refugees (helping them to access financial support), to powering efficient, safe record-keeping for pharmaceuticals tracking, blockchain is the technology that just keeps on (unexpectedly) giving, and we’re only just getting started. What’s more, Ireland is currently a hotbed of blockchain activity, with a number of high-profile enterprises emerging and driving game-changing innovations that just keep getting more impressive. In fact, it’s such a hotbed that they’ve only gone and formed their own Blockchain Association of Ireland, facilitating “Irish business leaders, educators, policy-makers and citizens in learning how blockchain technology can be applied to make Ireland the world’s most blockchain literate nation”. Well on their way, and driven by the burgeoning Irish tech scene, and the growing awareness of the myriad benefits of an Irish presence, the savvy business knows that Blockchain has a very bright future in this particular part of the world.
What: According to Gartner, business will have spent around $3.8 trillion on IT by the end of this year. Just over $2bn of that will be attributed to cloud services with a near $40bn on IaaS (infrastructure as a service) – a colossal spend on cloud, however you look at it. And as businesses increasingly migrate from on-premise operations to the cloud, working out how best to manage that shift in terms of costs and operational efficiencies is a bit of science, and that’s where FinOps comes in.
FinOps (Financial Operations), aka “cost optimization”, is an enterprise management SaaS solution that analyses the cloud-operating costs of a business, then provides insights that will help that business optimise their new cloud business model – think better planning, spending and forecasting – all critical when moving from that traditional fixed-cost on-premise data centre to the more fluid, use-based cloud model where spend fluctuates according to storage needs, CPU and memory requirements. The resulting ability to streamline and optimise operations – such as scaling storage up or down when needed, drives faster decisions, more streamlined efficiencies and more informed spending, helping an enterprise to maximise the value of operating in the cloud.
What: Investment management in Ireland has been undergoing a quiet revolution over the last few short years, breaking out of the confines of those dusty corridors of the traditional bank and straight into the hands of anyone who wants more of a say when it comes to their Euros – courtesy of mobile technology, and a dash of out-of-the-box thinking from Irish entrepreneurs. No longer the domain of wealthy individuals alone, investment management has thrown its doors open to anyone and everyone who has a bit of spare cash to put away – enabling them to move, grow and track their investments 24/7/365 (I’ve already checked my pension balance 3 times this month – and yes, it’s going up!). This new investments playing field on Irish turf has brought a whole new set of investments innovations to the fore, putting flexible, fast and (dare we say) fun, back into finance for the savvy Irish investor. The long and the short? Planning for your financial future just got interesting, and we like interesting …
What: In front of financial stalwarts Germany, France and Hong Kong in the burgeoning RegTech space, Ireland has seen RegTech investment leap from £5.5 million to £238 million over recent years, putting it firmly on the fintech map as a serious contender. This country means business!
RegTech – or regulatory technology – has already made big strides in disrupting the regulatory and compliance landscape, delivering game-changing solutions that are excelling in supporting the business world to meet the complex demands of compliance across the financial sector. Coined in 2015 by the Financial Conduct Authority, the term RegTech focuses primarily on providing enterprise with visibility across their monitoring, reporting and compliance activities, driving much-needed transparency and delivering the insights needed to meet, manage and adhere to regulatory compliance. The results? How about saving a lot of time, money, and the historic uncertainty that often comes with operating within this complex landscape? Not surprisingly then, the RegTech space shows no signs of a slow-down – which means there’s no shortage of eager RegTech pioneers vying to get in on the act.
What: Remember when there was just cash? Nope, me neither, and that’s what’s so great about tech innovation … the best technologies almost always feel like they’ve been around forever, and that’s certainly true when it comes to payments. Whether it’s P2P (person-to-person) or B2B, paying for goods and services today is a far cry from what it once was. From instantly grabbing that book from Amazon, to paying for your share of the bill on a night out, to streamlining the salary payments of your workforce, payments technology enables everyone to save time, effort and resources when it comes to paying our way, and convenience is at the heart of it. According to Philip Konopik, Ireland’s country manager at Visa, Ireland has the ecosystem to become a “regional leader in payments”. And with the recent news that challenger bank Revolut is pondering a new ‘payments and technology hub’ in Ireland, payments technology is having somewhat of a boom right now, with Ireland firmly on its map, if not leading the way. And with contactless transit, social-media peer-to-peer payments, and payment forms just a few of the payments innovations arriving on the Irish horizon within the next 5 years, there’s plenty to look forward to.
And there you have it – proof positive that the Irish fintech sector is positively booming, with an assured and very bright future built on homegrown talent, robust government support, and a collaborative mindset. If you’d like to find out more about where your fintech idea could take your business, let’s get the conversation started!