Top Dutch News – 7 November 2023

Stay up to date with the latest news from the Netherlands!  Enjoy reading!

Rabobank Decentralizes Personal Data Vault Datakeeper (Emerce)

Rabobank is spinning off its ID-wallet venture, Datakeeper, to allow the decentralized personal data vault concept to grow independently of the bank. The ownership structure and plans for external funding remain undisclosed. Joris Lange, who led the project since 2020, is passing the reins to Vincent Kolijn, now the executive director of Datakeeper. Datakeeper, established in 2017, offers a mobile-based data vault for storing and sharing personal documents securely, with the data residing on users’ mobile devices. Datakeeper itself has no access to the data but facilitates secure data exchange for businesses. Vincent Kolijn emphasized the importance of ID-wallets in facilitating data exchange for everyday tasks, from age verification to accessing financial information, and even retrieving data from common databases. Examples include accessing data from the basic population register (BRP) and employment history records from the UWV. Other wallet and technology providers in the Netherlands include Ver.Id and Yivi. This move signals Rabobank’s commitment to advancing data security and privacy solutions. Read more here.

The Netherlands initiates the construction of GPT-NL as its own AI language model. (TNO)

The Netherlands has embarked on the development of GPT-NL, its own open language model, with the aim of bolstering digital sovereignty. Collaborating non-profit organizations TNO, NFI, and SURF are jointly spearheading this effort, funded by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy (EZK). This initiative marks a crucial step toward fostering transparency, fairness, and the adherence to Dutch and European values in AI applications, all while respecting data ownership. GPT-NL will serve as a virtual resource open to partners, including academic institutions, researchers, and government agencies, facilitating the exploration and experimentation of language models in various domains. This project consists of two phases: the first year focuses on developing the Dutch language model, with active involvement from the academic sector, while the subsequent phase involves operation, including a connection to the national supercomputer. The realization of GPT-NL has been allocated €13.5 million by RVO/EZK, reinforcing the Netherlands’ expertise in generative AI language models and promoting research and innovation in the field. Read more here.

Dutch payments startup Fero just raised a $3 million seed round led by Coatue with this 11-slide pitch deck (Business Insider)

Dutch fintech startup Fero has secured $3 million in a seed funding round led by US investor Coatue. Founded in 2022, Fero aims to streamline the customer verification process at the point of sale and reduce cart abandonment rates, which have become increasingly important with the introduction of Europe’s PSD2 Open banking regulations. The company’s goal is to alleviate the friction customers often encounter during payment authentication. According to Fero’s CEO, Craig Savage, more than 45% of customers abandon their online shopping carts due to payment-related issues, resulting in over $5.2 trillion in lost revenue annually. Fero distinguishes itself by using AI to analyze individual shopping behaviors, preferences, and activities to predict and personalize the purchase process. The company’s funding, which follows its completion of the tech startup incubation program with Antler, will be channeled into expanding Fero’s team, including its data science and engineering unit in Madrid, its Amsterdam office, and its operations in the United States, further advancing its mission to enhance the shopping experience for both retailers and customers. Read more here.

33 million for 4 Dutch start-ups from the EIC Accelerator program (Rijksdienst voor Ondernemend Nederland)

In the third round of the 2023 European Innovation Council (EIC) Accelerator program, four Dutch start-ups secured €33 million in funding, positioning the Netherlands in fourth place among participating member states. The EIC Accelerator program, a component of Horizon Europe, aims to enhance Europe’s competitiveness through innovation. The four Dutch start-ups received €10 million in subsidies and garnered an additional €23 million in investments. These companies include Axelera AI, Chaincraft, Deftpower, and Skytree, each with unique solutions in artificial intelligence, sustainable fatty acid production, electric vehicle charging, and carbon capture. The EIC Accelerator supports innovative companies at various stages, with a focus on deep-tech innovations, helping them develop, scale, and bring high-impact innovations to market. The Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO), as the national contact point for Horizon Europe, provided crucial guidance and assistance to these successful start-ups. Read more here.

Online bank Revolut launches growth offensive after receiving DNB approval. (fd.)

Dutch online bank Revolut has received approval from the Dutch Central Bank (DNB) to expand its services, including offering mortgages and loans. This move aims to make Revolut the primary bank for a significant number of Dutch customers. Customers will now receive Dutch bank account numbers instead of Lithuanian ones when opening new accounts. While existing customers will be gradually transitioned to the Dutch branch. Revolut seeks to enhance trust and expand its services, particularly targeting young consumers. The online bank currently has around 600,000 account holders in the Dutch market and plans to introduce mortgages, consumer loans, and investment services. Despite recent challenges, including the rejection of a UK banking license and issues with customer fund theft, Revolut is focusing on tackling financial crime and maintaining growth. The bank acknowledges that it faces competition from players like N26 but remains committed to its market expansion. Read more here.

Ease2Pay presents the 2022 annual accounts and is allowed to leave the exchange’s penalty bench. (fd.)

Rotterdam-based parking and payment app firm, Ease2Pay, has been removed from Euronext’s watchlist after filing its delayed 2022 annual accounts with the AFM (Authority for the Financial Markets). The delay was attributed to administrative inaccuracies in units of acquired company Involtum, primarily concerning VAT. The eventual VAT position for December 31, 2022, was determined to be €103,000 after consultations with tax authorities. The delay announcement in April came alongside the revelation that Ease2Pay would need to make a €23 million goodwill impairment, significantly impacting its financial results, with a reported loss of €26.8 million in 2022. Without the impairment, the loss would have amounted to €2.7 million. The company, co-founded by Jan Borghuis and Gijs van Lookeren Campagne, co-founders of car-sharing firm Greenwheels, aims to transition into the primary bank for many Dutch customers and has plans for mortgages, consumer loans, and investment services. Despite challenges and criticism, Ease2Pay continues to focus on growth, with a special shareholders’ meeting scheduled for December 13 to approve the annual accounts. Companies listed on Euronext failing to meet listing requirements may face placement on the watchlist and potential delisting after two years. Read more here.

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