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Over 80 speakers appeared at Sthlm Fintech Week to celebrate that teaching, learning, guiding and collaborating is at the forefront of the industry – the knowledge is truly in our networks.

Leading fintech players from the Nordic and Baltic countries met up online to discuss how crisis motivates innovation, how our fintech network can help fight crime, when we will see real-world applications of Open Banking and a lot more. 

1. Stockholm is heating up

Anna König Jerlmyr, Mayor of Stockholm, shared evidence on the city’s impressive development in the Fintech area. 2020 set a record year for funding of Fintech Companies in Stockholm who jointly raised more than one billion Euro. That’s a new high and second only to London of the European hubs. Over the three year span 2018 to 2020, Stockholm ranks third in Europe in terms of Fintech investments generated, after London and Berlin. There are now over 400 registered Fintech companies in Sweden and 80% of them are based in Stockholm.

2. Collaboration is the new innovation

The past year was obviously tough for a lot of organisations and individuals, but like so often in crisis, new opportunities arise. The rate of change and innovation seems to have increased. 92% of surveyed Fintech companies stated that they in 2020 launched, or are about to launch, new products & services (count us in!). Focus seems to have been shifted towards more execution, likely at the expense of planning and strategizing, resulting in an overall increased pace. 

Perhaps more interestingly, a lot of innovation is the result of partnerships between specialised companies. A lot of participants at the event reported a significant increase in partnering dialogues.

3. Open Banking – not if, but when

It’s probably not a surprise to anyone that Open Banking was one of the hottest topics at the conference. But is it still just a bright vision for the future or can we realistically predict when we’ll start seeing the real-world applications? A lot was said, and our own VP of Product, Olov Eriksson, summarizes:

"As with most changes they happen slowly and then all at once. For open banking I think it will be the same. Over the next few years we will see an increase in account to account payment. I also think we will see more apps and tooling where you can see all your spend. Looking over a 10 year period, I would not be surprised if it leads to dramatic changes in especially consumer banking. New players will own the interface to the customer while the traditional banks power them with financial products behind the scenes."

4. Follow the money

The event brought together two leading FinTechs (Pleo & Safello) and two key guiding authorities (Swedish Tax Authority and the Swedish Financial Intelligence Unit). The discussions didn’t centre around “should we work together” but rather how to maintain and develop a strong and united front against criminal gains. Because if criminals get to collaborate, then we should too.

Key highlights included Michal Gromeks keynote in utilising networks and following the money in the recent Twitter scams following the hacking of Barack Obama's twitter, among others. With a focus on crypto, an area many praise and others fear - he simplified and clarified a complex web in a way that would have de-mystified a few things for even my tech-phobic friends. 

5. The DeFi hype is real

Eric Wall shared his thoughts on the state of the cryptocurrencies. Decentralized finance (DeFi) and Bitcoin seem to be two of few things really enjoying what 2020 brought to the table. Also, Martin Ascard from Galiot presented the function of money Legos, the building blocks of DeFi, and how these have improved a lot recently – making them more easy to use. 

Even though the terminology might change with time (Bitcoin, Blockchain, Cryptocurrency, ICO, DeFi and…), the DeFi-services and the technology behind them will continue to improve, and traditional finance will be challenged by it. The big banks will probably accept the challenge and adapt to the new environment, a journey which will be exciting to follow. 

6. Talent shortage and how to fix it

A lot of fintech companies are experiencing the problem of talent shortage. An interesting discussion about this resulted in the conclusion that an expansion of educational programs focusing on Fintech needs to happen. 

We agree. Moreover, we think the industry needs to start looking for opportunities abroad. It is clear that Fintech companies need to be open to internationalize their teams in order to meet current and future demands. 

On a completely unrelated note: check out our Careers page – not saying we are short but we ARE growing so please have a look at the exciting remote roles we hope to fill at the moment. 

7. AI & ML against crime

The key to good compliance is knowledge. But how do we gather the knowledge in an effective and secure way? Acuminor’s James Wink spoke about financial crime data and its use. His perspective on how AI, ML and robot automation processes can be of use to tackle the challenges we face handling data. Thanks to these advancements in technology, the fight against crime can advance through:

  • Improved data analytics, to prevent false alarms and increase the ability to focus on real threats
  • Enhanced underlying data, to really get to know the patterns and behaviors of customers
  • Automated processes, for example when handling documents
  • Structured data, to make use of existing, unstructured data and not just focus on collecting

As important as the official structure of an event like this is, the truly remarkable come in the discussions and connections that form afterwards. Perhaps that is the magic of Sthlm Fintech Week – the work that will come from the seeds sewn over those two days.

All sessions are available on-demand here.