Quite apart from the fact that Ireland has a ‘Viking’ past, in the sense that the Norsemen arrived in their boats and set themselves up around the island, the relationship continues today, but with the direction of traffic reversed. This time the Irish fintechs have arrived in Scandinavia where they are able to achieve significant growth thanks to the level of innovation and enthusiasm for fintech businesses in the Nordic countries.
Stephen Florence, Account Director at Fenergo, said: “Similar to the Irish approach, the Nordic financial services industry is quite innovative. They are willing to both leverage and embrace new technologies to drive revenue and reduce cost.”
As the Irish Independent points out, “Sweden is second only to Silicon Valley in terms of the number of unicorns — multi-billion-dollar tech companies — produced per capita. OECD data shows Sweden has 20 startups per 1,000 employees, compared to five in the US. Companies like Spotify, King and Skype are household names.”
The Irish fintech sector is also showing some impressive growth. Since 2014, Enterprise Ireland has invested in more than 80 fintech startups and these newbies have generated €1bn in revenue.
Established Irish fintechs, including Fenergo, Monex, Rockall Technologies and Corvil are known to many in the Nordics and there are a whole list of more to come.
Fenergo, for example, has a product that aims to solve banking problems and it has been very well received in Scnadinavia. The reason for this is explained by Stephen Florence: “”The Nordic region has multiple regulatory jurisdictions, languages and currencies. Some form part of the European Union — Finland adopted the euro, Denmark and Sweden did not and neither Norway nor Iceland are members of the EU.”
He added: “This poses complex compliance challenges for financial institutions that are operating across the region. As we have a rules-based engine, we can support multiple regulatory demands with one instance of the solution. If we look at our current client base, most are global institutions who have experienced and solved the same challenges that financial institutions in the Nordics are currently facing.”
There is another advantage for Irish fintech personnel working in the Nordics — they are used to cold weather and rain.