Starting back in 2014 when people were asking: ‘is fintech a technology from Finland?’ and coming here today with close to 300 members association, Holland Fintech has gone a long way in helping everyone in the financial industry to connect, learn, and innovate.
While celebrating the 8th anniversary of Holland Fintech, we invite the founder, Don Ginsel, to tell us more about what is the story behind Holland Fintech, what impact it brings to the Fintech ecosystem, and what can be expected in the future.
Have a read!
How the idea for Holland Fintech was born?
‘It all started when back in the day I was very curious to understand from an engineer’s perspective how the economy works, so I went working in banking. There I figured out that banks had a really weird sense of how to use technology to do what a customer wants. Their technology strategy really frustrated me, so at some point, I decided to leave the bank and work in venture capital. I ended up working with a lot of startups that had this really another way of thinking about how you use technology to deliver what your customer wants. Among all the others I discovered that there was an increasing group of startups, calling themselves fintech, that was aiming to apply the concept of building technology-driven solutions for the financial industry. I got really triggered by it and wanted to dive into what this means and how this works.
Frankly, I wasn’t the only one. I started talking to people in my network who had an interest in financial services and everyone said ‘this is really interesting, you should definitely do something with this. Let’s just all get together, get organized, and then we’ll figure it out.’ And that’s how Holland Fintech started with the first event on the 23rd of October in 2014 where we brought together quite a broad perspective of the industry with experts, investors, and startups to try to figure out what this mean and what could we do. And there we saw the need to just create some a platform where everyone and everything could come together – Holland Fintech the shared innovation ecosystem.’
The Netherlands today is one of the most attractive European fintech hubs. How has Holland Fintech helped to build this big and international ecosystem?
‘I like to stay modest about the company’s successes and accomplishments because, I think, we can only contribute small bits and pieces to the overall industry. But at the same time, we have been able to create a really easily accessible international ecosystem in the Netherlands because of working internationally and using English as a main language from the very start, which, I think, really helped to put this ecosystem on the map. This also made it really attractive for people to connect with each other, find each other, and also connect to the Dutch ecosystem. Fintech and financial innovation became something normal very soon.
We have made contributions to the global transition that the Netherlands are going through. For example, in the wave of Brexit, we see a large number of companies from the U.S., Europe, and across the world, that now choose the Netherlands as a landing place to set up. Our work sort of helped to create and show a certain size of the fintech ecosystem that became appealing for foreign fintech players. It’s like a gravity model. More mass attracts even more mass’
What challenges FinTech ecosystem is facing today and how is Holland FinTech helping to address them?
‘Declining growth is one of the biggest challenges the FinTech industry is experiencing today. This mostly has to do with the fact that capital is just becoming less cheap. Consequently, fundraising is a bit harder, and finding the right people is harder. It’s not an easy time to start in Fintech. Because of strict regulations startups are more likely to choose a non-regulated sector so they rather go into regtech or e-commerce than into payments, or investing. From our side, we keep on working with regulators and policymakers to see how we can improve that and help startups in FinTech. Like we are also providing support for finding investments and filling vacancies. For the companies that have matured already and have been able to maintain themselves, I think there’s still really strong growth possible. Digitization is not going away, but for scale-ups, other challenges arise, like growth across borders. That fits well with our international network.
There’s still a lot of opportunity and room for innovations for FinTech, as digitization in the payment, insurance, identity, and security sectors will keep on going.’
What should the dutch FinTech ecosystem, taking into consideration everyone from start-ups to big financial institutions, expect from Holland Fintech in the future?
‘On a Holland Fintech community level, we are working to adapt to post-covid life, because we see that the behavior and expectations of people have changed. It’s not so easy to get people out of their home office, no matter how nice the event is with drinks and everything on it. But we want, we need, FinTech people to connect and collaborate. To solve this, Holland Fintech is working to deliver a full events program for 2023 this December, hence making sure that our members and audience can sign up for all the events that we’re going to do throughout the whole year. And we will make sure they are must-attend events.
Delivering high-quality content is our priority, but can be quite challenging. We compete with events that cost several hundred euros, if not thousands of euros, to attend. Doing free events, as we do for all our members, has become a bit harder.
We keep on working on the principle of Connecting, Learning, and Innovating. Expanding each other’s networks so everyone is reachable for everyone. Learn together and from one another, where the world is moving, and where the challenges or opportunities are. And exploring, how we can help each other to work on that, within a trusted environment of innovation and collaboration. Collaboration between small and small, big and big, big and small. We will keep on working for favorable conditions for fintech, by providing the access to venture capital, talent, expertise on regulations, and access to the regulators themselves and making sure that all the network and the parties in it are visible, so it is an attractive place for people to join and do business with.
This is what Holland FinTech has been doing and what it will continue to do in the future to create a shared innovation ecosystem for all FinTech.’
24th November – Holland FinTech anniversary celebration. Why shouldn’t we miss it?
‘Even though most of our events are focused a lot on delivering quality content and making sure people can connect, learn and innovate, with, of course, fun social networking afterward, the Anniversary is all about having fun and celebrating this eight-year fintech journey we have been on.
I’m really looking forward to having a nice group of our former colleagues, members, and partners there that we really enjoy spending our time with. We’re all working together in this ecosystem, and it is just great sometimes to get together and informally have a drink, a chat, and some fun. We think it is important to be able to strengthen the relationships that we have with everyone without being too much concerned about all the content.
And for everyone who really likes fintech content, don’t worry, just a week later already you will be able to dive very deep into the content again, as about every week we have an event going on. And we’ve got some really nice ones coming up in December.’
This year Holland Fintech turns eight years old. That calls for a celebration! Get your tickets now and make sure you can join this party evening, with other members and friends.
We have sent out the invitation with the code to register. Have you missed the email but still want to join us in this fun night? Then you can request the code by sending us an email at: firstname.lastname@example.org