FinTech isn’t an “era of change but a change of era” said MEP Cora van Nieuwenhuizen in her introductory remarks at the ERFF workshop on FinTech in retail financial services on 9 February 2017, at the European Parliament. “FinTech is a marriage between the financial sector and new technologies. It’s not just about data, but also blockchain, robo-advice and IoT. It requires huge investments and development, and can create jobs and growth. But Europe is not in pole position; we are about #12 in the world. We need to accelerate our efforts. There is no going back,” she insisted.
Over 40 participants from consumer organisations, business, the European Commission and the European Parliament agreed that FinTech can enable increased competition, lower prices, easier access to services and products, greater choice, and wider financial inclusion. It holds benefits for business and consumers alike. Innovations under discussion ranged from distributed ledger technology to platforms that allow consumers to access services from their existing provider while also seeing personalised offers for related or competing products from third party providers. But to drive growth, Europe needs to address numerous issues. Participants raised several: consumer trust and socially useful innovation, data sharing and open banking, and the creation of a harmonised supervisory and regulatory environment which would facilitate new services and ensure a level playing for among established players and new entrants.