In the dark days around Christmas, enjoying time away from work and having more time and focus on family and friends, one gets bombarded with overviews of the past year. It’s very tempting to also look back and describe the highs and lows of the past year, but at first sight, it feels like Covid-19 has captured all attention, with a side role for the US elections and Brexit. But everyone can tell you that.
At the level of Fintech, the year was actually much more exciting, with the implementation of new Anti Money Laundering rules and PSD2 Strong Customer Authentication, the digital finance outreach by the European Commission and even a Fintech action plan, by the Dutch government, all marked the very dynamic regulatory environment in Europe, just like abroad. Businesswise, we saw many fintech companies raising enormous amounts – albeit often at an equal value or a discount compared to past years’ valuations – and scaling like crazy while consumers, businesses, and financial institutions had to go digital suddenly after March this year.
For many companies, it was a blessing in disguise. Neobanks, regtech, neobrokers, banking platforms were all doing well. But within Fintech several companies also struggled to raise new funding or acquire new customers in a remote world where all that mattered was the need to have. It seems that “Never waste a good crisis” has penetrated all management teams this year and therefore budgets were often tightened or cut, leaving a trail of distress and companies going into hibernation, waiting for the tide to turn.
For our organization, this was also an eventful year, with its fair share of troubles. Dealing with current business conditions also made us rethink our model, our operations, and cut costs. Not per se a bad thing on the level of the organization, but nonetheless painful when you have to deal with canceled plans, work with reduced capacity, and of course the process of letting good people go. It had to be done, and I believe it will result in something better after the storm has passed. But I am rather focused on new ideas, new plans, and scaling up.
Being a bit disappointed with our results over the past year would almost make me forget that we also did many great things! Like contributing to the Fintech Action Plan and publishing the Fintech State of Market report; Organising a digital-first Amsterdam Fintech Week, and turning our complete program to online, as it has never been any other way. We have contributed to the European Fintech Navigator and supported many companies that wanted to learn about the Dutch market and launch here. But there is still much to do, especially given the time we still need to fully recover from Covid.
I am very happy that we are getting very positive responses to our reach out to potential board members (see the previous blog) because I believe that the new board will significantly strengthen our position and our work for our members and the Dutch Fintech ecosystem. Together with them, our team is going to keep on improving how we educate, connect, promote, and represent the members of our network. If you want to get a sneak preview of what we have in store for you in the coming year, check https://hollandfintech.com/program/.
So, the past year has been tough from time to time, but I feel we are ready for 2021 and beyond, and I can’t wait to get the year started to realize all of it, together with you. As always, please feel free to reach out with any ideas or suggestions. I wish you all the best for the coming year, in health and prosperity!