FinanceEstonia, the British Embassy in Tallinn and UK Trade & Investment organised an event to celebrate and strengthen cooperation between Estonia and the UK in the financial technology industry. The mission of this event was to hold a hackathon for a chance for developers to present their idea to the delegates and to get access to the UK market. The other objective of the day was for the panelists and delegates to discuss the key points, commercial needs and solutions for both parties to benefit from.
The morning started with a short showcase presented by a panel of experts. It was stated several times that the finance sector does not have to be so complicated, on the contrary, to be easier and more comprehensible. As the bank’s IT services are so complex and tightly linked together, once you change something in the system, all the services need to be changed at the same time. This means that the large bank’s computer systems cannot be changed at all, and therefore especially the UK’s banking services are so outdated! There is a real possibility for startups here to come up with solutions that enable the financial institutions to get faster, flexible, more reversed and thus cheaper and easier to use for the consumer.
Joe Cross from Transferwise agreed that by making financial services transparent and unambiguous, a startup can reach a very large audience. Transferwise’s great success is also thanks to its exceptionally good work in marketing, as a lot is based on image. Accepted by Kristo Käärmann, Transferwise recently won the Smaller Company award at the Financial Time’s Boldness in Business Awards 2014, which is a great recognition when building a global, sustainable business. Previous winner include Twitter, Amazon and GoPro, so there are some very large shoes to fill. J
To boost performance in the economy, saving and technological innovations are seen as the best options as proposed by Dr. Christopher Sier, Director of the Financial Services Knowledge Transfer Network. Mass market obviously pays a huge role in the economy, but how to reach the demands of the customer of today? Nasir Zubairi, who is an established entrepreneur and Financial Service Advisor at New Buckland, knows that the one thing every startup has to consider is the customer. Especially if you want to make it in the mass market, your financial technology service has to be specific to the point and be locally oriented. He argued that the mass market does not trust mobile payments, due to its safety problems and cost limitations. He also stated there are many products for accountants, but the mass market needs something for their everyday use, something that can cater their needs.
Nasir, among the rest of the delegates, praised Qminder, who was one of 5 participants of the hackathon. Qminder, though not the winner of the evening, was a great example on how something practical and easily grasped can change our behavioural needs.
Andres Kikas, from UK Trade & Investment and also the organiser of the cause, agreed that all 5 developers did a marvellous work on their pitches and that the delegates were very happy with the outcome of the presentations and the quality of their ideas. He advises to keep in mind that when developing solutions for the financial sector it does not certainly mean confronting “mainstream” banks, but it is also necessary to work collaboratively with the banks to optimise existing solutions and ideally create services that the tech companies are able to export itself in addition. It should also be remembered that one cannot think short-term: for example, it was predicted successes to the mobile industry already more than 10 years ago, but the use of mobile-based services came to reality only recently.
The formal part of the event was closed by Aare Tammemäe from FinanceEstonia, who proudly and smilingly demonstrated Estonia’s magical way of submitting the annual report with no more than 6 clicks at the E-Business Register. Though it does not so much pay a role if we submit the report with 6 clicks or with 2 clicks, the importance still lies in the endless innovative mindset of our engineers and our close relationship with a country that above all values tradition and the fondness for rational thinking. It seems that it really could be a long-term relationship.
Congratulations to Martin Sookael for convincing the FinTech industry and for winning the prize of the evening!