Insider view Menno van Leeuwen, visiting TNW Conference for Holland Fintech
Back in the early days
The Next Web and I go back a long time. It was 2006 when I started my position within ABN AMRO as industry expert Technology Media & Telecom. I got introduced to Boris and Patrick, the guys behind The Next Web. I immediately became a fan, especially because of the positive energy they put in, starting and scaling initiatives such as TNW Conference and Spaces, where it all was about making connections (and keeping it fun). ABN AMRO would later on partner up with TNW. But, there was a decade where you saw hardly any financial institutions at this event. Lot’s of times I felt like Don Quichot, the single banker in this tech community. Having to justify internally why I spent those days and entree fees in Amsterdam Westergasfabriek. But things have clearly changed now. Fintech has grown over the years and created many unicorns. Tech has embraced Fin.
In the present, 2022
TNWConference 2022 was strongly packed with financial related tech content, from blockchain to challenger banks. I spent a full morning talking to the many fintechs who had a booth there. Both ABN AMRO and E&Y had programs in their glass houses integrated in the scene. NN was present with a large group of executive leaders. The Financial Times, the big shareholder/ owner of TNW and it’s conference was host to lot’s of fintech related sessions. If I would have looked with narrowed eyes I would have thought to be at a fintech event.
Also, the discussion on and off stage about the economic climate (expecting a downturn, cautious investors) is hitting both tech as fintech. You could say, this is a self-fulfilling prophecy. But as stated by many speakers at TNW it is also a time to really show you deliver quality and adhere to big customer needs. From that perspective it will be interesting to see what the future will bring.
In the future?
Finance and financial technology has always been a means to an end. That helps consumers and companies achieve goals, solving problems. E.g. for easier expense management I counted three scale ups at TNW so I guess there is still some room in the market.
Also spotted some climate fintech like South pole, but also in one of FT’s sessions where VISA and Commerzbank were addressing climate fintech as the opportunity area of this era. Propositions to influence consumer behavior, drive impact ESG investing, offsetting, co2 trading and carbon accounting are tech, fin and sustainable. All contribute to net zero target setting. The Netherlands is a frontrunner in sustainability so it makes sense to accelerate through the Dutch based fintech and tech ecosystems.
So, could ESG, the net zero commitments countries, economies and companies have committed to be the investment opportunity for tech and fintech? ‘Technofix’ as framed by Climate Overshoot. Could this new area give growth potential back to the tech – to encounter the downturn? Could Tech and Fin embrace Sustainability? Are these windmills for real? (Don Quichot pun intended). Let’s keep our eyes open, keep on connecting to each other, discussing and collaborating. The many HollandFintech events with our own ‘Don’ and TNWConference2023 are just the place for that.