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Fintech Vortex Recap: Opening keynotes by Constantijn van Oranje and Ancilla van de Leest

Fintech Vortex was launched today by Prince Constantijn van Oranje-Nassau (StartupFest Keynote) and Ancilla van de Leest (Opening Keynote). 

The StartupFest Keynote took the form of a conversation between Don Ginsell, CEO of Holland FinTech, and Constantijn van Oranje-Nassau. Fintech Vortex is part of StartupFest Europe, for which Constantijn is an ambassador.
Don kicked off the conversation by asking how StartupFest began. Constantijn explained that StartupDelta exists to do innovation on behalf of the government. Unlike the strong technology markets in the United States (such as Silicon Valley), European markets are not as well-developed and therefore not as well-placed to cope with change or to innovate. Governments need to be involved to help stimulate growth and support businesses, but it is difficult for them to take care of everything efficiently and adequately.
The Dutch government have essentially outsourced the shepherding of start-ups to StartupDelta. StartupFest Europe brings together players from across the market in a series of events and workshops that are small enough to permit the right kinds of businesses to meet each other.
Don commented that StartupFest brings people together in an atmosphere that is typically “gezellig,” a Dutch word that roughly translates as “cozy” or “friendly.”
Constantijn replied that, yes, the atmosphere is certainly gezellig, but in fact they want startups to get past gezellig and down to doing business. He expressed his admiration for business culture in the United States, where people don’t just talk, they make deals at the end of the day.
In contrast, he argued, the Dutch tend to like to talk a lot, but do not necessarily come to any conclusions. Moreover, they tend to think rather locally. We need to get past both of these mentalities by joining forces. Constantijn stated:

“By being a platform for others you are growing the pie, and I think we should be doing much more growing of the pie.”

This process does not have to be disruptive. Realistically, in fifteen years our markets will be different due to changing regulations, and this will affect everyone, from startups to banks to insurance companies. So the right response to “disruption” is not to be combative with other companies, but to cooperate.
Next on stage was Ancilla van de Leest to give the opening keynote. Don introduced Ancilla as “a fierce privacy activist,” and true to form, Ancilla focused on privacy issues relating to our financial data. Her talk was entitled, “An Introduction to Privacy Friendly Crypto Currencies and the War on your Financial Data.”

Ancilla described how the move towards a cashless society is undermining our ability to make anonymous transations. More and more stores are going cashless, citing security concerns and costs. Ancilla argued that they are pushed in this direction by banks, who make substantial profit over selling the enormous quantities of financial data that digital transactions generate. In other words, a cashless society is of interest to business, but, she argues, not necessarily good for individuals. As she put it:

“Do you trust where it’s stored or not? Do you trust when the NSA drops by that they’re not just going to hand over your data?”

Most of us, she argued, do knot know where our data is stored or who has access to it. She believes we should have the right for our transactions to remain anonymous.
Ancilla discussed cryptocurrencies as a potential source of transaction anonymity. She pointed out that, contrary to popular understanding, no two cryptocurrencies are alilke, and not all provide anonymity. She gave an overview of five of the largest cryptocurrencies (Bitcoin, Pivx, Verge, Zcash, and Monero) and discussed the varying levels of privacy they permit. Very few of them began in a privacy-friendly fashion; rather, privacy was layered on top later.
Ancilla told us that cryptocurrencies are being developed at lightening speed, and the growth of the IoT will likely feed into these developments, since it will stimulate the growth of digital micropayments. But at the moment, most people do not know very much about them, and it is not clear how they will develop. In sum, she believes that cryptocurrencies hold significant potential to address consumer privacy issues, but she warns that we still have substantial work to do.
Live blogged by Erin Taylor, senior researcher at Holland FinTech. Join the conversation with us @HollandFinTech on Twitter, #FintechVortex

Meet the Speakers

Constantijn van Oranje-Nassau
Constantijn van Oranje-Nassau
Special Envoy, StartupDelta
Prince Constantijn van Oranje-Nassau is Special Envoy for StartupDelta since July 2016. Previously, he founded C22C, and is Director of Digital Technology & Macro Strategy at Macro Advisory Partners since June 2015. Follow him on Twitter @Constantijn_NL
Ancilla van de LeestAncilla van de Leest
Co-founder, Project Opaque / Privacy Advisor, Startpage.com

Van de Leest is a Dutch politician and co-founder of Project Opaque, a platform dedicated to creating awareness about data ownership among citizens first, and consumers second. When launched in fall 2017, Project Opaque will assist people with their online presence, making it fun rather than difficult. Follow her on Twitter @ncilla]]>

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