Once again, Amsterdam played host to a much-anticipated event, Amsterdam Fintech Week 2023, last week. The event brought together some of the brightest local minds in the FinTech for a week of networking, innovation, and discussion.

Don Ginsel (Holland Fintech) and Conny Dorrestijn

Amsterdam Fintech Week (XFW) does not claim to compete with Money20/20 in terms of capacity, but it does in terms of quality and content.

Placing the Holland Fintech community at the heart of the event, Amsterdam Fintech Week (XFW) discussed relevant trends and development in separate sessions hosted by different community members across the city. This format forced participants to spend their daily steps across beautiful Amsterdam.

Which discussions made their mark in FinTech history? Let’s take a look.

  • The opening speech revealed the new report by Holland Fintech, which will be shared soon.
  • The session offered by the law firm Stibbe discussed the importance of the upcoming regulation, The Digital Operational Resilience Act (DORA) – Regulation (EU) 2022/2554, for Fintechs and banks. DORA aims to cover non-quantitative risks in the financial sector, forcing institutions to understand risks and be digitally savvy simultaneously. According to Roderik Vrolijk and Nynke Brouwer of Stibbe, financial service providers should consider the regulation, their outsourcing contracts, and cybersecurity measures. The regulation shifts the most significant portion of responsibility to board members, and therefore, compliance will likely be prioritized by the financial institutions. Apparently, some Board members of local banks have already started preparing by enrolling in mini-MBAs.
  • In parallel with the current ecosystem trends, sessions on AI’s future in financial services, impact services, embedded finance, and payments discussed these topics ranking in the trend scale.
  • The session hosted by Holland Fintech gave an excellent overview to companies interested in expanding into the Netherlands. The initiatives provided by The Hague & Partners and the Netherlands Foreign Investment Agency seem to cover various topics, from founding to lobbying, providing a soft cushion for newcomers.
  • Last but not least, the closing panels, including a pub quiz and interesting discussions, forced the attendees to think outside of the box:
  • The panel, including David G.W. Birch and Christian Rau of Mastercard, focused on crypto adoption and its payment value. When asked, only a few participants admitted to holding crypto, and even fewer attendees claimed to pay with crypto.

According to Christian Rau, Mastercard believes in an opportunity to pay with crypto in the future and has invested a lot in crypto. However, David Birch seemed skeptical about the real-world use cases of stablecoins and crypto as a payment tool during the panel. “People don’t want crypto; crypto is a stepping stone for USD,” argued Dave Birch, to which Christian Rau answered, “People don’t want USD; they want a safe, inflation-proof asset that the government can’t control.” According to Rau, stablecoins cater to this need strictly.

The panelists highlighted PayPal’s stablecoin investment as one of the most exciting developments in digital assets. However, stablecoins are not considered to be “for everyone.”

Then, the panel moved toward the importance of CBDCs, and the purpose of CBDCs was debated. Birch stated that CBDCs are political projects. He believes that the private sector actors would be better suited for issuance and management otherwise.

All in all, Birch argues that as long as a payment method is innovative, the user can’t differentiate between the mediums. Stablecoins might be used to lower costs by the ecosystem; however, the users won’t recognize the difference. Therefore, some experts consider them as ‘me too’ projects, triggered by the fear of missing out.

  • Paula Kant from Invest Hong Kong gave an interesting overview of the initiatives aiming to bring more innovative start-ups to the Asian FinTech capital. You can reach out to the Invest Hong Kong team to learn more.
Conny Dorrestijn & Johnnie Martin (Augmentum Fintech)
  • The following panel by Conny Dorrestijn & Johnnie Martin (Augmentum Fintech) focusing on the state of the venture capital discussed the excess of products that are not too different from each other. Accordingly, “consumer innovation is disguised in nuance”; therefore, founders should work on finding that sweet spot. The panelist advised founders to “stick with their vision” but to be “careful with their money” in the upcoming months.

Venture capital might be picking up, but it’s never too bad to be cautious!

Jeroen de Bel (Fincog) & Elif Kocaoglu Ulbrich

Many thanks to the Holland Fintech team for their hospitality!

As required by tradition, we didn’t miss the chance to take a picture with the Turkish-speaking participants of the event: Ayhan Sertel (Morpara), Heval Deliktas (Mastercard), Elif Kocaoglu Ulbrich, Mehmet Eser (Oneriver)
Elif Kocaoğlu Ulbrich
Gazi University Faculty of Law graduate Ş. Elif Kocaoğlu Ulbrich has degrees in Private Law from Galatasaray University and MBA from WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management, and is also a fellow of Jean Monnet, Joachim Herz Stiftung. After working as a lawyer in various international law firms in Istanbul and Ankara for more than six years, Denizbank A.Ş. She started her banking and finance career in 2013, specializing in business development, project management, FinTech regulation and lobbying activities at FinTech startups (FinLeap, Cringle, Lendico) in Hamburg and later in Berlin. Co-author of The PAYTECH Book, The AI ​​Book and The LegalTech Book, which are planned to be published in 2020 in cooperation with FINTECH Circle and Wiley, Kocaoğlu Ulbrich has been providing consultancy, training and publishing services since 2019 through Berlin-based Contextual Solutions, which she is the founder of.