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Expert opinion

Ecosystem development through partnerships & people

Thursday 10 January 2019 | 07:09 AM CET

Copenhagen FinTech’s Thomas Krogh Jensen and Mads Tingsgård tackle the fine points of building a fintech ecosystem dedicated to growth and innovation

Two major things are important in order to create the best possible fintech sector for the future. Collaboration and customers. Partnerships and people. Allow us to explain by diving into each separately:

In Copenhagen FinTech, we believe openness and partnerships are the keys to developing a solid and functional ecosystem within the fintech sector.

While it was thought not many years ago that new fintech companies would only be built to become direct competitors ready to take over the bulge bracket institutions of banks, insurers, payment providers and so on, a positive part of history has proven to repeat itself again: win-win scenarios from collaboration, trade and partnerships far exceeds the results from hostile competition.

To enable the opportunities of partnerships between startups, corporates, universities and governments, we, as builders of the fintech ecosystems in all countries, need to bring innovators together. One example is the regulatory sandbox. Governmental collaboration with startups has become increasingly important, as regulation is one of the most critical areas of finance. Through the Danish FSA we have enabled a regulatory sandbox for startups to test their products in a safe regulatory space before launching deeply into the market.

Coming to the realisation that collaborative creativity is the path forward for optimal future growth and customer satisfaction, we can put ourselves in a great position. In Copenhagen FinTech in Denmark, we started out by building a co-working space of 50 fintech specialised startups in the first year of our existence. We quickly realised the value of partnerships and luckily enough, so did the startups, the big financial institutions and technology companies. More than 70% of our in-house startups have already partnered up with big banks or other corporate players, an even higher number than the 56% who partnered up with each other, which in itself is phenomenal. For the full Danish eco-system, the growth has been astounding as well. In 2015 there existed only 70 Danish fintech startups. Now there are more than 210.

In order to build an amazing global fintech ecosystem and accelerating global growth, networking must be facilitated beyond borders. To accommodate this we built the Nordic Fast Track program, allowing international startups to build their companies in Denmark. We also recently created a project called the Global Fintech Alliances, where we help startups scale internationally by creating opportunities in foreign markets. Here they build real relationships with potential partners: from the big financial institutions, to smaller customers of their specific solution. An important role played by the enablers of the different fintech ecosystems and the fintech hubs in any country is that they must help startups build the critical network needed to give them the competences they need in terms of knowledge and talent – the most valuable assets of all.

When understanding that partnerships creates more win-win solutions than competition, we now need to focus on how we as a sector must think of innovation to build the best products possible. This is when the second part of the most important facets enter: people.

Recently we participated in the world’s biggest fintech festival in Singapore, a festival joined by significant global leaders such as the prime minister of India, Narendra Modi, and the prime minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau.

The participation of such global leaders lets us all know the importance of the growth within the fintech sector. And something that was discussed at the festival was that growth is not the all-important factor. People are the all-important factor. In a panel debate with Chris Colbert from Harvard Innovation Labs, this came up and is seemingly as important as ever, especially from a European context, but also globally. We must drive technological innovation through great ethics, education and a focus on the real needs of people, instead of a strict focus on short-term profits.

As Warren Buffett famously instructs his employees to think when faced with a difficult decision: If my decision was to be put in the paper tomorrow, to be read by my spouse, children and friends, would I still think I did the right thing?

If we want to help accomplish the UN’s sustainable development goals, we have to bring ethics into innovation. We, the fintech sector, must show why purposeful partnerships and people-focused technological development is the way to create a better world.

We are no Berkshire Hathaway or Warren Buffett, but we will ask you, when faced with a difficult decision, to ask yourself “should I?”, not “can I?”.

About Copenhagen FinTech

Copenhagen FinTech is an association built on the vision of creating a Danish growth adventure within FinTech. The city of Copenhagen hosts a diverse, collaborative and fast-growing fintech community built around one of Europe’s leading fintech incubators and accelerators, Copenhagen FinTech Lab. 200+ fintech startups in Denmark and 50 companies from more than 20 countries use the atmosphere of the Copenhagen FinTech Lab as the base for developing their solutions.

About Thomas Krogh Jensen

Thomas Krogh Jensen, CEO of Copenhagen FinTech, has extensive experience with leadership and management in large national and global organizations on a senior level. He has always practiced leadership in a change management context. Whether operational or strategic, the keywords have been management of significant changes along with the ability to execute and transform strategies into everyday actions. Now, Thomas is the frontrunner in terms of turning Copenhagen into one of the top global cities within fintech, by growing the eco-system through innovation, partnerships and people.

About Mads Tingsgård

Mads Tingsgård, Head of FinTech Intelligence, Copenhagen FinTech, recently finished his MSc in E-Business from Copenhagen Business School, where he focused on strategic use of technology in business, including fintech and digital investment platforms. He now focuses on the mission of turning Copenhagen into a fintech powerhouse together with the rest of the Copenhagen FinTech team.

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