Stockholm Fintech Week recently took place. It brought together over 1200 people from 40 countries and more than 600 companies, including investors, to talk about all things fintech and finance. It covered topics like regulation, how policy is shaping fintech, ESG, payments, lending and embedded finance, open banking, Web3, blockchain, and crypto, and KYC.
So, what was the consensus?
For one, the fintech and financial services industries clearly aren’t done talking about regulations, open banking, digital banking, disruption, APIs, and Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL). The industry is constantly moving, and will show no signs of slowing down, especially in the Nordic region where there are many innovative companies.
The revelations on open banking and open finance were particularly revealing. Takeaways here were that firms should wholeheartedly welcome collaboration—this is the only way our financial system can become more open. Open banking itself comes down to increasing customer choice, access, and giving consumers more control over their financial lives. Ecosystems will play a central role here, and ultimately banks may depend on these for their very survival.
Data security and privacy are also stand-out issues that should be prioritized.
Moreover, banks’ current focus is on digitalization won’t cut it in the very near future due to customers expectations around value-added services. Instead, they’ll need to focus on cognition—using data and AI analytics to offer consumers greater insights into their financial lives, for example via virtual assistants.
This theme of using data to enrich services was also applied to payments. Real-time payment data are the key ingredient to embedding payments in the right products and facilitating smooth integration. But, in the payments real, problems include fragmentation and the role Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDCs) will have in cross-border payments. And on the non-fiat currency side of things, DeFi, crypto, web3 and the like were found to show surprising resilience, despite facing headwinds.
On the tech front, it was notable that many thought tech should be an enabler, yet there are hurdles in attracting the right people and giving them an environment to thrive.
Lastly, the attendees stuck around throughout the week, which is always a good sign for a conference. Everyone was engaged and there was a pleasant buzz around the main stage and exhibition/networking area.
All in all, it was a fantastic event and definitely one to attend next year.
Richard Neve is the managing director of Cognito's Amsterdam office