In conversation with Ruth McCarthy, CEO Fexco Corporate Payments and Chair of the Law Society Finuas Skillnet Fintech Symposium

When and where is it on?

Law Society of Ireland, Friday 7 March  2019, 9.00 – 4.00pm

How many years has it been going?

The first event ran in 2016

What was the inspiration to start it?:

Ireland is undoubtedly recognised internationally as tech destination with some of the world’s biggest tech multinationals operating a significant presence here. Ireland is also gaining international recognition as a fintech destination – home to some of the world’s most impressive and innovative fintechs and paymenttechs including Stripe, Realex, Fire, and, of course Fexco. Working in and with these companies are a dedicated cohort of Financial Services professionals including solicitors, barristers, accountants, funds and investment professionals. The inaugural Fintech Symposium, which took place in 2016 and was run as part of the Law Society Finuas Skillnet, was established to provide a platform for idea sharing and discussion around the area of fintech regulation and legislation – for those professionals.

Since that 2016 event, the fintech and payments industry globally and in Ireland has continued to experience rapid growth. The total number of fintech start-ups rose 267% from 2005 to 2014. Payments start-up firms constituted 30% of all of these firms in 2014, having experienced growth of 576% over the same period.

The timing of the 2019 Fintech Symposium is fitting ahead of the launch of IFS2025, the next iteration in the Government’s strategy to promote Ireland as a leading location for international financial services. Given the recent legislative changes in the areas of fintech, AML and Payments – there was a demand for an event like this – one that provides a forum for discussion around new and emerging challenges on the legal and regulatory horizon of this unique sector.

What exciting things can people look forward to?:

The Fintech Symposium is a unique event in that it is run by professionals for the benefit of their peers, this lends a real element of practicality to the day with people from the sector discussing issues and opportunities that are true and relevant to the industry. In a sector like that of fintech, one that evolves at such a rapid pace – it can be challenging for organisations and professionals working therein to stay abreast of what the most recent and often times correct legislative and regulatory frameworks actually are. Those working in financial services have been inundated with a barrage of legal and regulatory changes in the last number of years including the new Criminal Justice (Corruption Offences) Act, General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), revised Payment Services Directive (PSD2) and the Fourth EU Money Laundering Directive (4MLD).

This event will provide those professionals an open forum for discussion and sharing ideas, concerns and observations relevant to the sector. In addition, industry experts will provide an overview of and update on the laws governing the area of fintech in Ireland.

We are delighted to welcome a host of expert contributors to provide insight on a range of topics.  For example, Kevin O’Brien, who is Head of the Consumer Protection – Policy and Authorisations Division in the Central Bank, will provide a valuable regulatory view and we also have Frank Kelly of FK Consulting, who provides specialised regulatory and compliance advice to financial and payment services providers.

What opportunities are on offer for those attending?

The real benefit for those attending is the chance to become more comfortable and familiar with the recent legislative updates and changes in the fintech space. Attendees will have a unique opportunity at this event to raise their concerns or ideas and discuss opportunities with a panel of leading multi-disciplinary experts working in field.

What tips would you give to people attending to get the most out of it?:

We would encourage those attending to be open to discussion around the areas of regulation and legislation in the fintech sector. We hope to be able to provide guidance and clarity to those who have issues, concerns or queries related to the legislation. The event promises to be an open forum where this type of dialogue can be heard.

Come ready to learn, ask questions and above all share your knowledge and network.

Anything else you’d like to add / we should have asked?:

From a Fexco perspective we see the opportunity that the financial services and fintech sectors can provide, especially for a country like Ireland that (as a small island nation) could be considered geographically disadvantaged. Fexco was founded in Killorglin, again a location that could be considered at a geographical disadvantage in rural Ireland and is still headquartered there today employing over 1,000 people locally. Fintech, by its nature, is a borderless business – ideation, talent and expertise will drive the fintech economy which is why Ireland needs to be at the forefront of delivering best in class professional service to those companies.

The Law Society Finuas Skillnet Fintech Symposium event is essential for those Financial Services professionals including solicitors, barristers, accountants, funds and investment professionals, insurance professionals and in-house IFS Counsel working in Ireland who are looking to develop and enhance their legal and fintech knowledge and practical skills – helping to ensure Ireland can complete in this €4 trillion business sector.

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