In recent years, an increasing number of innovative and vibrant FinTechs have sprung up across the European Union. New companies are being set up, and established firms are growing and scaling up to meet the digital challenge. Digital currencies and the emergence of ‘BigTech’ – the largest and most dominant companies in the information technology industry – are only the most visible examples of a fundamental transformation. It is a change that is bringing innovation and making many European cities prominent hubs of a buzzing new FinTech culture.
Digital finance strategy
Digitalisation and new technologies will continue to evolve and transform the way we access financial services in the coming years. Therefore, the European Commission is working on a new digital finance strategy, to ensure that the EU can make the most of FinTech and compete globally. The strategy will be presented in the third quarter of 2020.
To feed into the strategy, the Commission wants to get the advice and opinions of consumers, companies and national authorities. Given the interconnectedness of European financial markets, expectations and interest is high – both from EU Member States and non-EU countries. To get this feedback, a public consultation will be launched from March to May 2020. In addition, a number of outreach events are being planned in several different Member States. The Commission is inviting views on some of the key political and ethical questions raised by digital finance, and how the EU should address them. How can consumers and businesses benefit from digital finance while still being protected? How can we regulate innovative technologies without killing them off? How can we ensure a level playing field between banks, FinTechs and BigTechs? The results and feedback will feed into the key priorities for a future EU digital finance strategy.
On the road
With the outreach events, the Commission will be taking the discussion across the EU. Along the same lines as the European Semester, a series of events in key FinTech cities around Europe will be organised, starting in February and running until May, with a closing conference in Brussels shortly thereafter.
The events will take place in a number of cities in the EU, including Amsterdam, Berlin, Budapest, Copenhagen, Dublin, the Hague, Luxembourg, Madrid, Milan, Paris, Prague, Stockholm, Vilnius and Zagreb. Key local figures will be invited, such as the country’s top FinTech start-ups, digitally active incumbents, FinTech investors, innovation hubs, regulators, incubators etc. In addition to national players, FinTech stakeholders from neighbouring Member States as well as non-EU countries that have strong FinTech ecosystems will also be invited. The events will be an opportunity to exchange the best practices applied in these local ecosystems but also to learn about the challenges that they are facing – particularly when seeking to expand beyond their national borders.
Finally, a hackathon will be organised in parallel to the consultation. It will bring together engineers and policymakers to generate digital solutions that could benefit EU FinTech.
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