Enterprise Ireland has published a ground-breaking report into regtech eco-systems across Asia Pacific.
The report, entitled ‘The State of Regtech in APAC’, is a pioneering report into the sector in APAC and the culmination of three years’ work by Ireland’s innovation agency Enterprise Ireland. It is the most comprehensive, independent analysis of the subject ever undertaken.
It provides an in-depth look at regtech adoption, challenges and opportunities across 10 key APAC markets.
“This unique report is a compendium for anyone in the regulatory, risk or compliance functions of any company in the region, as well as for regtechs looking to scale and expand there,” explains Mo Harvey, Enterprise Ireland’s Financial Services and Fintech Lead (Asia Pacific), who is based in Hong Kong.
“It’s a totally objective deep-dive assessment of key markets including Australia, Mainland China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. Its aim is to help people understand the regulatory landscapes, market conditions, government initiatives, ecosystems and critical players in each market.”
The report highlights the development of digital economies across the region, the key regulatory drivers in each, plus the roadblocks and challenges facing regtechs in each. It covers both government and regulator initiatives, as well as a full range of ecosystem players for Irish regtechs to potentially partner with.
It is the result of a market research exercise undertaken by Enterprise Ireland – Ireland’s state development agency for Irish enterprises in world markets – as part of its ongoing work to assess areas of opportunity for its portfolio of client companies, both in growing sectors and regions.
“Enterprise Ireland has been investing in regtech companies since before regtech was even a word,” explains Mo Harvey.
“As a result, regtech is now Ireland’s largest indigenous fintech cluster, with the ability to compete on the world stage.”
Why Ireland, why now?
That explains why the world’s first in-depth analysis of APAC’s regtech eco-system should come to be written “by a small island off the coast of Europe,” she points out.
“In fact, we had started looking at regtech in APAC even before compliance issues really began being pushed by regulators here.”
At the time, Ireland had already begun to establish itself as a world class centre of excellence for regulatory technology solutions.
“We could see that APAC was the standout for market opportunity for a number of our client companies doing great work in the regtech space,” she says.
Enterprise Ireland works with the largest number of regtech companies in the world, with more than 40 regtech companies in its portfolio, representing some of the best in Europe.
“We could see a clear opportunity to supercharge Irish regtech companies into the APAC region and really make a meaningful impact,” she says.
“Our aim with the research was to present the lay of the land in each country from a regulatory perspective, mapping out the market opportunity for them. Asia-Pacific is the fastest-growing regtech market in the world with the adoption of cloud solutions set to dominate, particularly in the SME segment. We know that a small number of large enterprises hold the lion’s share of the regtech market globally (approximately two-thirds), but we predict that the SME regtechs have a real opportunity here in Asia-Pacific.”
Out of that endeavour emerged this 300-page report providing unparalleled insight into the regulatory eco-system across APAC economies.
“This is something that has never been done before, a completely objective analysis that, for anyone with an interest in regtech in APAC, provides everything they need to know.”
Interest in Ireland’s regtech solutions providers is strengthening in the region, Harvey says, driven by intensifying regulatory emphasis on risk and compliance controls, and a digital transformation agenda accelerated by Covid-19.
“The result is a scramble for regtech solutions,” she added.
Unlike locally grown regtech solutions providers, which typically operate within standalone markets or jurisdictions – whether Hong Kong’s or Singapore’s or Japan’s, for example – European regtech providers take a pan-European approach from the start, dealing with supranational laws and regulations, such as MiFID, PSD2 and GDPR.
“Irish regtechs are used to dealing with multiple jurisdictions, that’s the edge they have”, she explains.
Insights into APAC
Demand is growing. “Regtech adoption across the region is gaining pace in every market we’ve looked at, as is the need for greater regulatory oversight,” says Harvey.
That’s good news for Ireland’s world class regtech providers.
“I don’t know a single other investor, or government agency of any kind, that is working with a cluster of companies of the magnitude that we are,” she says.
“The sheer volume of regtech companies coming out of Ireland that can comfortably compete on the world stage is quite exceptional. At Enterprise Ireland, our aim is to grow more of them.”
- Compliance Costs Expected to Rise: The projected cost of AML compliance across Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Singapore combined is estimated at US$ 6.09 billion annually, with more than half of it in Singapore.
- Impact of Regulators Across APAC: Country-specific regulators have the most impact on regulatory compliance, but Singapore’s regulators also have substantial impact across APAC study countries.
- Regtech Adoption: Progress in regtech solutions in developed APAC countries is starting to gain speed, driven by regulators’ need for greater oversight and a tighter regulatory environment.
- Promising Areas for Regtechs: Market and industry drivers such as the rise of digital banks, P2P lending, virtual assets and remote onboarding present an opportunity for regtechs to fill the need for specialised solutions.
- Changes in Regulation: Changes in regulatory stance puts increased focus on compliance and using new technology to meet standards more efficiently and effectively
- Impact of Covid-19: Covid-19 has accelerated the transition to digitization of financial services, but progress on regulations has stalled as liquidity and lending took higher priority
- Roadblocks and Challenges: Long sales cycles challenge regtech adoption in developed APAC while regulatory inertia and lack of proper regulatory processes can hinder regtech adoption in developing APAC.
To find out more, click here to download your copy of The State of Regtech in APAC report.
The Asian region’s healthcare industry has seen rapid growth over the years, with several countries becoming more known for its medically advanced institutions. The rise of the healthcare industry is largely attributed to the emergence of MedTech, a constantly evolving sector that utilises technology to advance the practice of medicine.
In Asia Pacific alone, the digital healthcare industry is projected to be valued at US$80.7 billion by 2025, making it one of the fastest-growing regions in the world, and its continued rise has been catalysed by Covid-19.
Over this period, more individuals were encouraged to stay at home, rendering them unable to step out and avail of healthcare services. Medical professionals capitalised on telemedicine to reach their patients and leveraged a range of digital technologies to monitor their health.
Apart from disruption to traditional healthcare delivery and management, research has shown that there are other key drivers of digital health acceleration in the region such as advances in digital health technology, cost pressure in healthcare systems, perception of the healthcare sector as a “safe haven” for investment amid economic downturn and requirement to provide personalised patient care.
Deirdre Glenn, Head of Life Sciences in Enterprise Ireland, stated that Covid-19 proved to be a double-edged sword for the MedTech SME sector. It posed a big challenge for non-digital medical devices and solutions and those needing face-to-face access to patients or clinicians.
Companies within the clinical trial space also experienced significant delays as many non-Covid-19 clinical trials were suspended. The summation of these various challenges eventually led to declining sales and a downturn in revenue for some companies.
Zooming into China, Japan and South Korea
According to Fitch Solutions, three Asian markets in particular – China, Japan and South Korea – make up a sizable 15.6% of the global medical devices market. Baker McKenzie’s deal flow data also shows that digital health venture capital deals in Asia Pacific are largely centered on the major population centers of the three aforementioned markets, together with India.
The factors that propelled the rise of Asia Pacific’s digital healthcare industry still hold true in China, Japan and South Korea. However, additional factors such as ageing demographics, changing regulatory environments and increase in healthcare spending also helped spur the growth of the medical devices and digital health sectors in the three markets.
As a global leader in the Life Sciences sector, Ireland has a rich ecosystem in terms of specialised staff, managers, suppliers, advisers, and investors that allows sector companies to flourish. It is by far one of the best systems in an English-speaking area within the favourable European regulatory regime. The €45 billion annual exports of Ireland’s Life Sciences sector, across medical devices, pharma and bio, is a testament to their strong capabilities.
Enterprise Ireland currently supports 260+ Irish Life Sciences companies. In the Asia Pacific region, there are in excess of 170 instances of client engagement across 58 of these client companies. As the region delivers a strong promise for ambitious and innovative Irish Life Sciences companies, Enterprise Ireland recently organised the ‘Opportunities in Medical Devices & Digital Health – China, Japan & South Korea’ knowledge webinar where representatives from Aerogen, EKPAC Healthcare, Intralink, and Emergo by UL shared insights on how to grow in the medical devices and digital health sectors in these markets.
Understanding market requirements
The first step in business expansion is to understand the target market. This entails using available data and research to understand the market landscape, from regulations, current practices and challenges to industry organisations to potentially work with.
Talking to relevant industry stakeholders such as medical professionals and distributors provides companies an insider perspective on current market opportunities and challenges, allowing businesses to make an informed business approach.
Julie Xue, General Manager at EKPAC Healthcare, a procurement solution provider of advanced industrial technologies in Greater China, shared, “It’s crucial to work with a local partner on strategies, product registration, pricing, sales, and marketing when your knowledge and presence in the market is limited and you want to win out the competition.”
The Asia Pacific region is a diverse market, and China, Japan and South Korea each have their own set of regulations that businesses must comply to. Cybersecurity and data privacy are important, and regulators have started to set regulatory requirements to ensure health IoT devices are not only safe and effective but also secure.
In South Korea for example, the Ministry for Food and Drug Safety issued guidelines for medical device cybersecurity risk management based on US Food and Drug Administration’s guidance and recommendations. On the other hand, China’s National Medical Products Administration published draft guidelines for standalone medical device software including cybersecurity requirements.
Simon Strode, Business Development Manager at regulatory consulting firm Emergo by UL, said, “The Medical Device Regulatory landscape in Asia is constantly evolving. In order to bring products to the market faster while reducing regulatory and quality risks, companies need to have a clear regulatory strategy from the outset addressing issues like product classification, registration and required documentation.”
Building relationships and a network
Relationships are key in doing business in Asia, especially so in Japan and South Korea. By establishing rapport with relevant stakeholders, companies will have insider information and perspective to support business growth.
Ruslan Tursunov, Life Sciences Specialist at Intralink, a business development consultancy specialising in East Asia, shared, “Building trust and relationships are prioritised over a legal approach in Korea and Japan. By establishing a long-lasting relationship, you will have access to an honest customer/market feedback, insider information on upcoming tenders, and a good partner to even jointly develop your next generation products.”
Enacting localised responses in each market
Prior to entering the three markets, differences in language, relationships, product awareness and pricing already pose barriers to incoming foreign businesses. This is why a local presence and people on the ground are essential to managing the operations as they will help maneuver the business according to the cultural context as well as the current market environment. Furthermore, localised responses and solutions are crucial to a successful expansion, as the strategies used in other markets may not be as effective in the target market.
Irish aerosol medication delivery company Aerogen has operated in Asia for quite some time and is active in all three markets, having established local presence and worked with local partners to deliver their services in the region. Its Head of Asia Pacific, Tara Spain, said, “Some of our key learnings in the markets include setting a local presence on the ground early, making no assumptions on what you have done previously, and researching in advance for specifics like market access and environment.”
A complex but promising region
The Covid-19 pandemic prompted all sectors to place greater emphasis on healthcare and gave rise to rapid digitalisation, and there continues to be room for the digital health industry to further grow amid the current situation.
Doing business in Asia, especially in China, Japan and South Korea, is a complex process to undertake, mainly due to cultural differences. However, despite the region’s complexities, the wealth of opportunities it presents to Irish Life Sciences companies is far too promising to overlook.
Enterprise Ireland has offices in all of these markets – China, Japan and South Korea – with Life Sciences Market Advisers and any Enterprise Ireland clients in the Medical Devices and Digital Health sectors wishing to explore market entry or expansion may contact them to seek assistance.
 Fitch Solutions – 2020 Medical Devices Report (China, Japan and South Korea reports)
As a result of the pandemic and the rapid adoption of technology in the education sector, the workforce of tomorrow is being shaped like never before. Jack Larkin, Trade and Development Executive at Enterprise Ireland MENA writes about the role of Irish EdTech in helping to revolutionize learning.
As schools and universities faced severe challenges during the start of the pandemic, it propelled education institutions to find rapid solutions to limit the disruption to students as classrooms and lecture halls closed requiring a model based on remote learning to be put into place overnight.
This moment in time gave rise to the most significant advancement in the adoption of digital technology in education like no other, creating a leap not seen in generations for the mainstreaming of digital learning, and propelling the digital classroom of the future.
With the global education technology market size valued at $89.49 billion in 2020, the sector is experiencing a level of annual growth not seen before which is forecast to be 20 per cent from 2021 to 2028. This will see the market value grow to near $400 billion over the coming years.
This rapidly growing market contains an array of innovative offerings that are not only just designed to support the remote learning challenges derived from the Covid era. The market is servicing the changing needs and expectations of the digital savvy youth as well as those educators who are looking at the benefits of technology to revolutionise teaching.
What the future holds for education
As we increasingly prepare for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, it has become an imperative that education systems adapt. Many of today’s children will work in new job types that do not yet exist, with advanced technology driving this new future, and therefore we need to prepare and equip young people with these new skills for the new jobs of tomorrow.
We are seeing EdTech solutions that are in line with the advances in the latest technologies, such as the Internet of Things, Artificial Intelligence, Augmented Reality, and Virtual Reality, which are all contributing significantly to the market growth.
By focusing on these types of advanced technologies, young people can not only benefit from a different learning style, engaging in more immersive learning, they are also learning what these technologies can do and how they can be applied.
One example of this is how virtual reality can be applied in the education setting. Irish company, Immersive VR Education offers virtual reality-based learning providing an immersive teaching method that allows students to interact with concepts or situations that no longer can be experienced such as experiencing what it was like on the Titanic when it struck an iceberg or being in space on a mission, opening many possibilities that did not previously exist, especially helpful in a home-learning setting.
On AI, we only have to look at what is happening here in the UAE with the strong focus being placed by the UAE Government on fostering an environment that harnesses the possibilities that can be enabled from the application of the technology. Through the National Programme for Artificial Intelligence, the UAE is aiming to be a global hub for AI techniques and legislation and to become world leaders in AI by 2031.
The economic benefits are clear; it will create new economic and social opportunities for all and will lead to the generation of up to AED 335 billion in extra growth for the UAE. With both this goal and the resulting economic prize that is on offer, the trend set by the UAE will only continue further and indicates in sharp focus the need for the workforce of tomorrow – the children of today – to be skilled in these types of technologies in order to fuel the national ambition.
A shared ambition drives UAE’s and Ireland’s learning ecosystem
Like the UAE, Ireland also shares the clear focus for embracing innovation to shape the future, which is why so many of our Irish companies have innovation embedded into their DNA. The Irish ecosystem is rooted in innovation with the substantial national priority placed into research and development over the years by successive Irish Governments.
In the EdTech sector this is no different; for example, the Learnovate Centre based at Trinity College Dublin is home to a research and innovation centre that is solely focused on learning technologies. Funded by Enterprise Ireland, the Irish Government’s trade and innovation agency, the industry-led centre helps companies transform employee, student, and customer learning experiences. The centre also actively identifies what the latest trends are and how that translates into setting priorities for research to support product development.
The vibrance of the Irish EdTech sector is linked to the strength of the wider technology sector, where some of the world’s most advanced digital technology companies have grown up alongside global tech giants. With Ireland’s exceptional talent, vibrant investment activity and a renowned research base, it has helped to create one of the world’s leading tech hubs, with over 1,000 companies generating €35 billion in exports annually.
Initiatives such as Ireland’s €500 million Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund is further driving the pipeline of digital innovation, providing funding for collaboration between Ireland’s research base and industry and enterprises to develop disruptive technologies and applications on a commercial basis.
Irish start-ups revolutionising education through innovation
In EdTech alone, there are over 157 Irish start-ups operating across a range of segments of the educational landscape, all highly innovative, and all helping to transform learning, and playing a key role in shaping the workforce of the future.
With this sector thriving, their innovative solutions are present in educational institutions around the world. Innovative platforms support the real-time assessments of students, such as the product provided by Skilly who have devised a complete dashboard to help teaching staff to track progress for every student, class, and year group whilst also monitoring engagement levels. With around 40 million annual users, Learnosity also provides a suite of powerful assessment tools that provide a fast-track solution for building more engaging learning products.
Irish edtech companies are revolutionising learning. Enabling young people to learn about computer coding is at the core of what Robotify enables. The company guides students to produce original ideas, with the tools, resources, and freedom to grow their capacity for creativity, critical thinking, problem-solving, and collaboration skills, using a simulation platform to make robotics accessible to everyone. The Irish virtual robotics company has just signed a deal with former Apple pioneer, Steve Wozniak to change the future of millions of learners with WOZ ED, K-12, his education company.
With the catapult towards the future, the classroom is being reimagined, challenging the status quo of how young people learn, and importantly, they are experiencing the benefits of a more technology-enabled learning experience. Our young people are beginning to be equipped for the Fourth Industrial Revolution for a world embracing new disruptive technologies, led by the vision of preparing students for the automation-driven workplace of the future.
Jack Larkin is Trade and Development Executive – MENA at Enterprise Ireland, the Irish Government agency that works with Irish enterprises to help them start, grow, innovate and win export sales in global markets.
Innovative Irish companies are enabling some of the most advanced applications globally, from smart cities and autonomous vehicles to ports and agricultural automation. With a highly creative and talented workforce, an open economy and a competitive corporate tax environment, Ireland is the second largest exporter of computer and IT services in the world.
A great example of Irish innovation in action is the global connected software company, Cubic Telecom, which offers connected car solutions to automotive companies like Audi, Volkswagen, Skoda, as well as many electric vehicle manufacturers. Having its technology embedded in millions of cars around the world has put this Irish company in the driving seat when it comes to industry insights.
Transforming in-car connected software in the Middle East market
Cubic Telecom has recently collaborated with Etisalat Telecom in UAE and stc, Saudi-based telecom and technology services provider, to accelerate the introduction of in-car communication solutions in the Kingdom. Cubic’s software enables zero-touch device registration and in-car connectivity that is pre-configured to comply with the area’s regulatory requirements.
“Cubic’s connected software is driving performance for carmakers and providing in-car services in key markets. We are delighted to be working with stc to help car manufacturers activate new opportunities in a very significant market,” said Barry Napier, CEO of Cubic Telecom.
Cubic Telecom provides connected software solutions in more than seven million vehicles and devices across over 100 countries. With the Kingdom investing heavily in telecommunications infrastructure, Cubic supports this vision through a range of in-car services, including eCall support, an “Emergency calls” system that automatically alerts emergency services in the event of an accident.
From Dubai to Dublin – and the rest of the world
Born from an idea formed talking to a waiter while ordering a coffee in Dubai – founder and Chief Executive, Mark Roden, founded Ding in 2006 to improve people’s lives by helping those with less, gain access to more. The company helps its customers gain access to easy mobile top-up in order to stay connected with friends and family. Through Ding ex-pat workers around the world can support family by sending mobile top-up directly to their phones back in their home country.
Today, the Dublin-headquartered telecommunications company has nine offices around the world, delivering a top-up every second, via 550+ operators, across 140+ countries. In fact, their customers have sent 450 million top-ups around the world. Ding works with the leading operator, has a market leading direct to consumer business and app, and also a global B2B platform and API which sees it partner with some of the biggest Fintechs and SuperApps in the region today.
Demand for top-up is growing, particularly when you consider that more than 80% of phones in the region are prepaid, with the majority out of credit at any one time, therefore limiting their ability to connect with friends and family. By leveraging Ding’s mobile top-up service customers can stay connected in just a few clicks.
Equipping businesses with effective data analysis tools
An agile, expert partner in the design, engineering and manufacture of products to condition, control and monitor air, Aubren has recently launched its next generation software for controlling air handling equipment. Developed specifically for use in the data centre and telecoms industry, the software optimises free cooling conditions using advanced and proprietary algorithms. Aubren has recently implemented a major project with Du Telecom in UAE and installed environment-friendly energy-saving cooling solutions for their telecom towers
Another Irish company active in the Middle East is Aspire Technology offering advanced solutions and services to perfect and optimise network deployment, performance management and analytics with their OpenRAN Lab. Aspire Technology is currently working many operators across MENA including Omantel.
Abdull Ali, Senior Market Advisor for Enterprise Ireland MENA, who works closely with innovative Irish companies, said: “Referred to as the Silicon Valley of Europe, Ireland has developed the effective ecosystem to become a global hub for ICT advanced technologies and is producing more and more innovative companies with cutting-edge solutions.”
Using data to make the world a more sustainable place, Dublin-based IoT company, Davra, enables environmental improvements across sectors. Named leading platform by Gartner in 2019, the digital platform deploys information collection technologies and custom IT connectors to monitor activity, allowing companies to optimise their operations to become more energy efficient.
Adding to the pool of Irish companies that are creating an impact in the region is Xunison, a software-led business, that ensures its operator customers are at the forefront of in-home consumer technology. Xunison is working with leading telcos in the GCC region, delivering innovative CPE solutions across connectivity, smart home, OTT and customer management.
Also worth noting is the partnership between Xintec, world-class providers of cost-effective fraud management and revenue assurance solutions to the telecommunications industry, and Zain Telecom, a leading mobile voice and data services operator in Bahrain.
The pandemic has highlighted the importance of connectivity needs, as well as the need to future-proof our cities, towns, and communities. Home to global technology leaders, electronics companies and research institutes, Ireland’s tightly knit innovation ecosystem enables IoT providers to develop solutions that collect and transform data into value.
Irish regulatory technology is in demand across Asia Pacific, where demand for compliance and risk solutions has never been greater
Irish regtech providers are experiencing unprecedented growth across APAC.
“Covid has been an accelerant,” explains Scott Patterson, Enterprise Ireland’s Senior Market Advisor Fintech Australia & New Zealand, based in Melbourne.
The pandemic has forced many financial services organisations in the region to increase investment in digitisation, both to facilitate customer onboarding and to satisfy growing regulatory pressure for robust compliance and risk controls.
The combination of escalating cybersecurity costs, decreasing revenues and increased regulatory pressures has resulted in a “paradigm shift”, says Patterson.
It started in Australia in 2019, with the launch of the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services industry.
The following year Hong Kong’s Monetary Authority (HKMA) declared its intention for Hong Kong to operate as a centre for regtech excellence. In April of this year the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) announced its new regtech grant scheme to promote the adoption of technology for risk management and compliance in financial institutions.
“Covid-19 has created a burning platform for digital transformation across the industry,” explains Patterson.
“It was a catalyst for organisations to fast-track the transition from legacy risk processes and systems to Cloud based regtech platforms flexible enough to meet the expectations of local regulatory frameworks, while also future-proofing against the ever-evolving regulatory landscape.”
Irish ingredients for regtech innovation
That so many of these organisations turned to Ireland’s regtech solutions providers is no surprise. “Irish regtechs have proven experience of resolving the kind of risk and compliance issues that are only now being faced by companies across APAC,” he explains.
Enterprise Ireland is the world’s most active seed investor in technology companies and has a portfolio of more than 40 client companies in the regtech space.
Its strength in the field is the result of a number of factors, including the fact that Ireland is both a major international financial services sector and the global technology hub of choice for the strategic business activities of some of the world’s top ICT companies.
It is also the Data Capital of Europe, with leading data-rich companies such as Apple, Google, Microsoft, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Airbnb all servicing Europe from Ireland.
Given Europe’s position as the global leader in regulatory and compliance standards, from open banking to data protection, allied to Enterprise Ireland’s active investment in innovative technology-driven start-ups, it has all provided fertile conditions for Ireland to develop its world class regtech cluster.
Many of these companies are now powering across APAC. Fenergo, an Irish regtech ‘unicorn’ and the industry No.1 provider of CLM software solutions for financial institutions, has supported each of Australia’s leading banks with regulatory onboarding issues.
Vizor Software, a global leader in supervisory technology, provides industry-wide reporting support, partnering with the Australian Prudential Regulatory Authority (APRA).
Daon is a world-leading mobile authentication and biometrics company working with leading financial digital banks such as TONIK in the Philippines and Mox in Hong Kong. Its biometrics and identity assurance software has been deployed by Australia Post.
MCO (MyComplianceOffice) works with financial firms across APAC as they navigate increased regulatory pressures, growing level of enforcement actions and rising compliance costs, helping them to automate conduct-risk management for more effective compliance and greater efficiencies.
Know Your Customer, with offices in Hong Kong, Singapore and Shanghai, has quickly established a reputation for excellence for solutions which strengthen KYC and KYB compliance while providing exceptional client onboarding.
Not alone are Irish Regtech’s such as Corlytics, Circit, Cerebreon, Sedicii and DX Compliance who are all quickly gaining international traction. Today more than 20 Irish Regtech’s appear in the Deloitte RegTech Universe 2021.
They have won some of the most prestigious global awards too, including the Regtech Insight Awards 2020, in which MCO won Best Vendor Solution for Managing Conduct Risk and Fenergo won Best KYC Software for Client On-Boarding.
At the Central Banking Global Regtech Awards 2020, Vizor won Global Technology Partner, following on from its success as winner of the Global Regtech Provider award the previous year.
“But it’s not just about service provision or functionality,” points out Scott Patterson. “Some of these companies have gone on to become industry influencers.”
Fenergo has, for example, created an active APAC community of leading Australian Financial Service organisations. What it refers to as “compliance by design” is a powerful collaborative initiative that mutualises the effort and cost of compliance for all involved.
“This allows tiers two and three financial institutions surety that their approach to AML/KYC, combating financial crime, and counter terrorist financing, is the same as that of tier-one institutions,” he explains.
“It’s a perfect example of the way in which Irish regtechs are not just providing effective solutions but helping to set the standard around the regulatory environment in APAC.”
A new survey of EU Member states has found that Ireland has the highest share of enterprises in Europe using artificial intelligence.
The report, which was published by Eurostat in April 2021, is just the latest indicator of the strength of Ireland’s thriving deep-tech sector, of which artificial intelligence is just one strand.
A number of elements are driving this success.
“We have a number of the world’s largest technology companies here, many of which have been progressing machine learning and artificial intelligence through their R&D activities. These have built up a lot of expertise in these areas, both bringing experts in from abroad and upskilling people in Ireland,” explains John Durcan, senior technologist at Enterprise Ireland.
“Very often people gain a significant amount of deep-tech experience working within the MNC sector before leaving to go out on their own to develop very specific niches arising from that.”
A strong focus on deep-tech at third and fourth level supports them, including universities and institutes of technology plus government backed research centres. These include Neuroscience Ireland and CeADAR, Ireland’s one stop shop for innovation and applied R&D in AI, machine learning and data analytics. Research centres such as CeADAR (founded 2012) are set up when an emerging technology looks like it will impact industry.
“All of these centres are very proactive in encouraging businesses to engage with machine learning and AI,” he says.
It was exactly this deep-tech focus that helped Ireland develop its world class fintech sector, he points out.
“In a way it started in Ireland with fintech. Deep-tech fits very well into fintech, and fintech as a sector is one which is very good at adapting innovative technologies quickly. Now we are also seeing deep-tech extending rapidly into other areas such as healthcare and life sciences, agriculture and manufacturing,” says Durcan.
New initiatives are driving Ireland’s deep-tech agenda forward. Trinity College Dublin has launched Alsessor, an artificial intelligence accelerator programme to support starts-ups in the growth and commercialisation of businesses in areas such as digital health, fintech, insuretech and regtech, as well as retail.
Radical new undergraduate and masters programmes are also emerging.
The University of Limerick is pioneering a new kind of computer science education with the launch of its integrated undergraduate and master’s degree, in partnership with more than a dozen technology companies including Stripe, Zalando, Soapbox Labs and Fenergo.
The Immersive Software Engineering programme has five paid residencies built in, each between three and six months long, giving students multiple opportunities to work with real-world tech teams.
All this activity is adding to Enterprise Ireland’s strong pipeline of High Potential Start Ups in the deep-tech space.
“We are seeing a good number come through with strong artificial intelligence capabilities. Whereas three years ago AI was being pitched very broadly, we are now seeing companies emerge with AI for very specific business niches, and that’s good because that’s where we get the real value out of it,” he says.
Irish company Shopbox.ai uses AI to convert ‘anonymous’ traffic into committed customers.
“It’s a really clever solution that gives clothing retailers the kind of recommendation features that we see in Amazon or Netflix,” he explains.
It’s also part of a trend emerging whereby niche AI solutions are offered as service. “It’s almost plug and play now, giving you the benefits of the deep-tech without having to hire data scientists and software developers yourself.”
Irish company Altada focuses on ethical AI, ensuring accountability and transparency of AI decision making.
Accountable AI is an area of growing concern in the EU and one which, like GDPR, is likely to see regulation rolled out worldwide. It’s also an area Ireland is building up significant expertise in, says Durcan.
Funding for the future
Enterprise Ireland is funding deep-tech, both through its deep-tech Competitive Start Fund and its Euro 500m Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund.
“The DTIF in particular has a really big focus on next level, future R&D,” says Durcan.
“It encourages companies to go beyond their normal service, looking three or four years ahead, to encourage companies to work together in a collaborative way with MNCs, third level, and other SMEs.”
It is that cross-sharing of knowledge that is really driving the adoption of AI in Ireland, he says.
“We are increasingly seeing not just a cross sector of companies involved in DTIF projects, but a cross sector of sectors, such as satellite data technology companies working with agriculture companies, so that solutions devised for space could be used to help with weed control,” he explains.
DTIF helped fund the new Quantum Computing in Ireland (QCoIr) initiative which has catapulted Ireland into the European forefront of quantum computing research.
Meanwhile a growing number of Irish companies are successfully commercialising deep-tech innovation in all sorts of ways.
VRAI for example provides virtual reality simulation training, using data insights to deliver not just authentic, immersive experiences but ones which are personalised to the participant, doing away with traditional one size fits all training.
With so much going on, at so many levels, it’s no surprise that Ireland has topped the Eurostat poll. As Durcan puts it, “We have a nice deep-tech eco-system here.”
Ireland is set to emerge from the pandemic stronger than ever, thanks to the development of pioneering technologies supported by its Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund (DTIF).
This major €500 million Government-backed funding initiative, which is run by Enterprise Ireland, is designed to drive collaboration between Ireland’s world-class research base and industry.
It enables enterprises to compete directly for large scale funding, worth millions of Euros, to support the development and adoption of the ground-breaking technologies of the future.
The purpose of DTIF is to drive collaboration between Ireland’s world-class research base and industry, facilitating enterprises to compete directly for funding in support of the development and deployment of disruptive and innovative technologies on a commercial basis.
Because the funding is matched by the private sector, the DTIF both provides – and unlocks – large scale, multi-million Euro investments in the development and deployment of commercially viable disruptive technologies. It does this year after year.
Annual call for creative disruption
DTIF funding calls are made annually. This year, in April, the Irish government announced the latest tranche of ground-breaking projects to be supported by the DTIF, spanning areas such life sciences, medical devices, ICT, artificial intelligence, manufacturing and environmental sustainability.
In all, 29 major new projects secured funding worth €95 million. These include new technologies for sub-sea robotic drilling, for smart factory safety and radically more energy efficient industrial heating and cooling systems.
It’s a broad-church funding approach that spans everything from a new platform to improve productivity on construction sites, to new monitoring tools to improve outcomes for new-born babies.
This year’s round of investment brings the total Government funding awarded under three DTIF calls to date to €235m, across 72 projects and 270 project partners.
Post pandemic resilience
The high level of DTIF funding demonstrates the Irish Government’s commitment to investing in a stronger and more resilient post-pandemic economy.
All DTIF-funded projects involve collaborations of between three and eight partners including SMEs, multinational corporations and research organisations. Of 111 collaboration partners involved in the current call, 62 are SMEs. In 22 cases SMEs are project leads.
Funding successes to date include an adhesive to help knit broken bones together following fracture; the use of artificially intelligent drones to detect drug smuggling; and the development of a robotic drilling system suitable for offshore wind plant construction.
All projects selected for DTIF funding have game-changing potential, whether they use nanotechnology to reduce carbon emissions by 40% in industrial heating or AI to help identify early-stage cancer patients.
They also fall under the Irish government’s research priorities. These include robotics, artificial intelligence, augmented and virtual reality, health and wellbeing, as well as smart and sustainable food production and processing, and smart manufacturing.
Priorities also include innovations which help decarbonise the energy system and promote sustainable living.
Rigorous independent evaluation
Securing DTIF funding is a competitive process. Applications go through an intensive evaluation process involving remote screening and interviews by panels of international experts.
These are charged with seeking out only those projects with a strong enterprise agenda that can demonstrate commercial impacts within three to seven years of project completion, and which are seeking minimum DTIF-matched funding of €1.5 million.
“This is large scale funding for the kind of ground-breaking technologies that will enable us to come out of the pandemic stronger than before,” says Imelda Lambkin, manager Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund at Enterprise Ireland.
The DTIF opened in 2018 and is due to run for 10 years as part of Ireland’s National Development Plan. Because the initiative is 50% co-funded by the project partners, it leverages substantial private sector investment.
Among the largest awards to date is €7m to a consortium including Relevium Medical, HiTech Health and the National University of Ireland Galway for a regenerative treatment for knee osteoarthritis using a hydrogen based therapeutic.
“We fund collaborative research which includes SMEs working with other SMEs, or with multinational companies, as well as academic researchers, all coming together to develop disruptive technologies,” she explains.
“These are technologies we define as having the potential to either alter the market or the way we live. By coming together like this they can create something bigger and better.”
A seal of approval
The competitive DTIF process forces applicants to make their case not just for the work they are doing, but demonstrate “why they are doing it, why this team, and why now?” says Lambkin.
“They must also demonstrate the strength of the disruptive technology; the excellence of their approach; the potential for market impact; the quality of the collaboration and the impact of the project on sustainability too.”
Each year’s applications are whittled down to only the most disruptive, with the most potential and the greatest prospects for commercial success.
The whole competitive process helps to foster innovation and collaboration across Ireland’s research landscape, from small innovative start ups to large multinationals and academic researchers, deepening the links connecting Ireland’s innovation eco-system.
Successful project teams often go on to success at European level. “Securing DTIF funding is like a seal of approval,” explains Lambkin.
Asia Pacific drives growth for many Irish businesses and is home to some of the world’s most digitally connected population. In the Southeast Asia region alone, there is a population of over 330 million connected individuals with the region’s digital economy having been projected to hit US$300 billion by 2025.
When quarantines and stay-home orders became the reality for many people at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic last year, the adoption of digital services rose like never before, particularly in Southeast Asia. According to a joint report by Google, Temasek Holdings and Bain & Company, as many as 40 million people across the region — Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Thailand — came online for the first time in 2020.
Now with nearly 70% of the region’s population online, the digital sphere is a necessity for both consumers and businesses. Cyber threats are equally becoming responsive to an increasingly vibrant digital environment as threats become more pervasive and complex.
Irish innovators are coming to the forefront to lend their expertise in this dynamic and challenging environment. During Enterprise Ireland’s Asia Pacific Cybersecurity Innovation Showcase, we heard from six Irish companies on their contributions towards a safe cyber environment as well as their latest solutions that address emerging cybersecurity challenges today.
Creating a safe and seamless digital experience for businesses and consumers
With so many new online users in the region, cybersecurity threats are becoming two-fold. First, there is a need to ensure a safe and secure online experience for users through good cyber hygiene habits. And second, there is a need to facilitate an education around cyber-attacks and protection for new users who may be more vulnerable to these threats.
Cyber criminals are moving from targeting systems and processes to targeting users, creating a gap in a company’s security protection. Cyber Risk Aware, a human cyber risk management and behaviour change platform, was set up to protect people, institutions and cities through education and cyber awareness that effects positive change in online behaviour. Cyber Risk Aware primarily helps companies from becoming victims of cybercrime by raising staff awareness and creating a network of human sensors in real-time.
“Today’s highly sophisticated cyber criminals are gaining access to vital company data through complex scams like phishing, smishing, malware or ransomware that target people instead of systems. Traditional tick-the-box, annual or even monthly training is no longer effective against these criminals and leaves staff defenseless against an attack. A shift towards helping create positive behaviour change in staff by implementing context-based, real-time intervention training in their exact moment of need is essential to mitigate impending risks. Organisations who have committed to changing the risky behaviours of their staff are seeing up to 800% ROI against a single security breach,” says Stephen Burke, CEO & Founder of Cyber Risk Aware.
Highlighting that traditional staff training is inadequate to change risky staff behaviour that typically compromises a company’s network defense, Cyber Risk Aware advocates companies to set up contextual training and an awareness content library that will shore up staff behaviour as defense to a cyber-attack. The ground-up approach should leverage a company’s cyber defenses, in tandem with human cyber-risk assessments that evaluates a user’s cyber awareness and knowledge through regular email and SMS phishing tests as well as data analytics stemming from behaviour database that tracks human cyber risk scoring and behaviour change.
Email remains to be a cornerstone of consumers’ digital identity. And TitanHQ, one of the leading providers of email protection, DNS filtering and email archiving solutions for over 20 years, is a frontrunner in safeguarding consumers from cyber-attacks on this front. Through its comprehensive suite of solutions that include WebTitan, SpamTitan and ArcTitan, TitanHQ’s has been identifying and blocking malware and ransomware attacks before they infiltrate organisations’ network. The movement to work from home and an increase in remote workforces have increased the risk vector and placed a further onus on a layered security approach.
On the financial services front, Daon, a global leader in digital onboarding and biometric authentication technology, is no stranger to Asian shores. Trust is a key priority to Daon’s innovations in this region. Trilochan Sehgal, Regional Vice-President of Southeast Asia, highlighted the digital identity problem, where there is a critical need to solve the issue of trust across multiple online channels.
Introducing IdentityX – the world’s first cross-channel multi-factor biometric authentication and onboarding platform, consumers can now use the same identity credential to authenticate quickly and easily, at any time and through any channel. Not only does the platform help create a seamless digital experience across multiple channels, it guarantees consumers’ digital identity based on secure biometric credentials, enabled by face recognition technology. This can be made even more secure through other biometric authentication processes that may include voice and finger authentication.
Despite a challenging 2020, the company made strides in the region with an impressive portfolio of clients including Japan’s SMFG/SMBC, Standard Chartered Bank and a host of Hong Kong based banks. The company’s presence in Asia also expanded with a new Singapore office as well as significant new partnerships including a contract to deliver digital onboarding and mobile biometric authentication with Singapore-based TONIK, which provides the first digital-only bank in the Philippines.
Commenting on this, Trilochan Sehgal, Vice-President of Daon Southeast Asia said, “Daon is in a unique position where we solve challenges across the full customer identity lifecycle from onboarding, authentication and account recovery. Our customers appreciate this holistic approach and we are seeing a big surge in our technology adoption specially among customers in payments verification, digital banking, insurance, and telcos in the region.”
Securing data and networks against cyber threats
The data landscape is changing dramatically. And it is important to understand the shifts in this landscape to better develop solutions that can bolster cyber defense for any company, institution or country against new threats that can emerge from this landscape.
Mark Brosnan, Co-Founder & Managing Director of GetVisibility, shared how major shifts in the data landscape are primarily influenced by five key factors: i) regulation, ii) explosion in data, iii) cloud adoption, iv) an increase in cyber-attacks and v) ineffective data loss prevention programmes. Not only do data governance need to keep up with these shifts, but these systems also need to account for the end-user as well as anticipate potential new threats too.
Data governance is therefore a responsibility that spans across end-users and multiple organizational processes. As a software solution that discovers, categorizes and classifies unstructured data across an organization, GetVisibility undertakes this responsibility by harnessing Artificial Intelligence (AI) to provide risk and compliance assessments in the data governance process as well as to enforce protection of sensitive data. This is increasingly pertinent at a time where remote work is becoming the norm during the pandemic as companies seek to secure their data against cyber breaches or leaks.
With data governance being a huge undertaking that involves various organizational processes, efficiency will be key for organisations. Security Automation Orchestration and Response platform provider, Tines, allows security teams to automate any workflow regardless of complexity without relying on pre-built integrations.
Having observed that an excess of IT and security operations work is manual, repetitive and prone to error, Tines have designed a software that allows security operations teams to automate their manual workloads without requiring scripting or software development knowledge. This frees up security operations teams to refocus on more impactful risk-reduction strategies specific to an organisation. Upon notification of a potential threat, security operations teams can also conduct deeper incident investigations and responses and enlist an analyst as soon as any real threat has been identified.
But what if the worst happens – what should companies do when there has been a breach?
It is all in the response, and how quick it is matters. GuardYoo, a specialist in remote compromised assessment or a technical audit of a network, treats cyber incidents as physical crime sites that can be investigated. GuardYoo departs from the traditional thinking of cybersecurity as a model that protects networks from breaches. Instead, the company brazenly believes that this brand of cybersecurity is impossible as cyber threats are inevitable, and that breaches can even occur without the awareness of most organisations.
Darren Sexton, Chief Executive Officer of GuardYoo shared, “The way hackers penetrate a network is always changing and this is a perpetual game of hide and seek. But what does not change is that hackers need to do something once they get into a system. That is where GuardYoo steps in. To use a Covid-19 analogy, traditional cybersecurity companies will check if you are wearing a mask and that the mask is covering the right areas but GuardYoo will check if the virus has gotten through the mask and will identify what parts of the body it is attacking.”
As such, GuardYoo recommends its automated ‘Digital Forensics Investigation’ model to conduct regular compromise assessments that identifies how a network lapsed in its defenses, how these vulnerabilities were exploited and who was responsible behind the attack. The company also has an active threat research lab that is constantly developing threat models. This contributes to the swift one week turn-around time for GuardYoo’s compromise assessment, including a forensic analysis, as opposed to the typical 10 to 12-weeks timeline across the industry.
With the FinTech sector’s recent boom in the UAE and across the wider region, Irish start-up DX Compliance launched its operations in the Middle East from its new base in the UAE. The Dublin-headquartered company is fast becoming one to watch in the global RegTech space where its operations have expanded into five international markets.
Operating out of the country’s capital, Abu Dhabi, DX introduced its disruptive technology and solutions to the rapidly expanding financial market. Working with banks and FinTech companies, DX Compliance invented AI-enabled anti-financial crime and compliance software solutions with easy to use features and top-of-the-line capabilities to effectively identify and manage regulatory and financial risks.
“With UAE topping the list of countries in the Middle East with the highest number of financial technology start-ups, we knew this would be the best market for us to begin our journey from. After successfully launching in the UAE and securing a place in the two biggest start-up accelerator hubs in the UAE, we are looking to expand our offer into the wider MENA region. This move will create several R&D jobs in Ireland where DX puts a high focus in hiring young talent. Following through our milestones achieved, we continue to help our customers benefit from the unique insights of our proprietary machine learning capabilities and user focused approach” said Simon Dix, CEO & Founder of DX Compliance.
The move to the region has been supported by Enterprise Ireland, the Irish Government’s trade and innovation agency. Their involvement has contributed to the successful expansion of DX Compliance into the Middle East market. This includes the Dubai International Financial Center’s (DIFC) FinTech Hive as well as Abu Dhabi Global Market’s (ADGM) Hub71.
Welcoming DX Compliance to the region, Stephen Twomey, Enterprise Ireland’s Senior Market Advisor said, “The FinTech scene across the Middle East is ever evolving and fast emerging with plenty of opportunities for growth and innovation. We’re delighted to see DX Compliance successfully launch in the UAE and become part of the UAE’s largest start-up accelerators, making it the very first Enterprise Ireland backed FinTech start-up to secure a position at Hub 71 and DIFC’s FinTech Hive. Irish FinTech is well received in this region for its ground-breaking innovation, technology and ability to overcome challenges.”
Daniel Dorr, Co-Founder of DX Compliance said “The support we gain from Enterprise Ireland along with our collaborations with Universities in Abu Dhabi and Dublin opens doors for more growth and employment during unprecedented times. The collaboration between our two offices which represent two ecosystems, will help us expand our company and portfolio at a rapid level leading to more job opportunities and delivering value back into our respective ecosystems”.
“Our expansion into the UAE comes as we have just launched DX Version 2.0, our latest version of our transaction monitoring software, which takes the fight against financial crime to a whole new level. Our new and improved features enable banks, FinTech firms and other providers of financial services to effectively identify and manage their regulatory and financial risks, lower operational costs and focus their attention on their revenue drivers with a peace of mind”.
In addition to successfully launching in the UAE, DX Compliance has strengthened its leadership team by appointing two C-Suite titles. Razi Ardakani, financial compliance and FinTech expert, was appointed as Head of Growth and will lead the company’s expansion across the Middle East and drive global expansion strategies. Appointed as DX Compliance’s Chief Product Officer, Prem Ipe has over 15 years of experience leading data analytics teams. Prem was also previously nominated as one of the top 30 leaders in Australia.
DX Compliance has a successful track record in providing market-leading anti-financial crime products that offer insights into individuals’ and commercial entities’ financial behaviour. They generate value for their clients by uncovering suspicious transactions that usually go undetected by more traditional forms of anti-financial crime tools.
Considering DX Compliance’s expertise and journey of growth, the start-up was selected to be part of RegLab, the UAE’s specially tailored regulatory framework which provides a controlled environment for FinTech participants to develop and test innovative solutions.
The highly respected financial regulator of the city-state Singapore, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has last December awarded four digital banking licenses. These licenses will allow entities including non-bank entities to provide banking services including deposit taking and lending in Singapore. As a regional fintech powerhouse, the liberalisation of its banking industry has been hotly anticipated by big players in the world of finance and technology.
Two of the licenses are categorized as “full”, in that they allow consumer banking. One has gone to a partnership of local ride-hailing super-app Grab and telco conglomerate SingTel, where both companies have large customer bases and regional activities across Southeast Asia.
The other has gone to Nasdaq-listed internet powerhouse Sea group, which has had a blockbuster year of growth from its e-commerce platform Shopee (well able to hold its own against Amazon and Alibaba), it’s gaming division Garena and existing fintech division SeaMoney.
The remaining two are “wholesale”, or business banking licenses, awarded to Ant Financial (the fintech affiliate company of Alibaba Group, best known for their Alipay app) and another to a consortium of Greenland Financial, Linklogis & Beijing Co-Op Equity Investment.
Singapore follows a wider regional pattern, two years after the Hong Kong Monetary Authority who released eight digital banking licenses. Taiwan’s Financial Supervisory Commission also released three and Malaysia is expected to issue up to five sometime later this year. The Philippines has also indicated it will accept applications for online only banks. The authorities in Indonesia however, seeking to encourage consolidation of a fragmented banking sector, is not expected to issue any further licenses. However numerous small or struggling local lenders have been acquisition targets for ambitious Fintechs, while larger banks are experimenting with digital-only propositions.
However, they face a challenging marketplace in Singapore, where incumbents are deemed to be very digitally capable. Covid-19 forced them to bolster their digital proposition, and at the retail level almost all transactions, including account openings, can be performed online. DBS, the market leader, has won various accolades as the World’s Best Digital Bank, boasts over 7,500 engineers, with the CEO Piyush Gupta evangelizing the bank as a tech company in financial services.
The experience in Hong Kong and Australia seems to point that new entrants cannot only rely on a slicker app experience and marginally better deposit rates. They will need to tie in truly innovative products, services and integrations that are useful and targeted specifically at under-served sectors of the market.
In order to achieve this, new digital banks will have to have a robust, agile and secure technology stack incorporating the best technology partners in the game – and this is where the Irish Advantage is. Irish companies are already supporting many of the world’s most innovative digital banks and look poised to power the current wave of upstarts in Asia.
The Irish Capability
Daon is a world-leading mobile authentication and biometrics company. Established 20 years ago to serve the government sector and now a leader in financial services, they are one of the only FIDO certified biometrics companies, whose services are critical to the security of any digital banking offering. Daon are already working with some of the leading financial digital banks in the region – TONIK (the Philippines) and Mox (Hong Kong).
A comprehensive compliance offering, and seamless onboarding process, is central to offering customers an exceptional and secure account opening experience. KnowYourCustomer’s KYC, KYB and onboarding platform is currently used by digital bank Neat in Hong Kong. Know Your Customer notably won “Best Solution – Customer Onboarding” in the 2020 edition of the Regulation Asia Awards of Excellence.
Also in the onboarding space is Fenergo, the industry No.1 provider of Client Lifecycle Management (CLM) software solutions for financial institutions spanning capital markets and investment banking, commercial, business and retail banking, private banking and wealth management, and asset management. Fenergo CLM is an end-to-end platform that transforms how sell-side banks and buy-side firms manage clients – from initial onboarding to KYC/AML compliance, to client data management and ongoing lifecycle KYC reviews and refreshes.
With the uptake of digital banking solutions expected to experience exponential growth, Leveris’ cloud-native and real-time core banking system offers a 100% turnkey digital bank solution. A modular platform designed with scalability and reliability at its heart, Leveris helps fulfil ultra-rapid total deployment for innovative technology-driven banking solutions, digital at heart.
CR2 solutions provide innovative omnichannel banking software to banks across the world. CR2 makes self-servicing banking better through supplying ATM’s to mobile and from POS to the Internet. CR2 offer digital channels that provide personalised services built upon an integrated self-service digital banking platform known as ‘BankWorld’.
With compliance core to the reassurance needed to drive adoption of digital banking, Solgari’s omni-channel cloud communications platform provides communications and functionality through Microsoft Dynamics 365 within the CRM interface.
As Singapore embarks on its journey into digital banking, there is much to be learned and gained from the experience of companies who have helped other organizations venture into this space. A global technology hotspot, eight of the top 10 global software companies have their European headquarters in Ireland, making this a hotbed of innovation; innovation that empowers and enables.
To find out more about the #IrishAdvantage in Fintech, please reach out to talk.
Tiarnan McCaughan – Senior Market Advisor Fintech & Financial Services, Southeast Asia
Grace Odlum – Market Executive, Southeast Asia
With digital banking being on the rise, Botswana Savings Bank (BSB) has chosen CR2, the global leading digital banking provider, to launch a suite of next-gen digital banking channels and payments services. The move forms the central pillar to the BSB digital transformation strategy to provide a suite of value-added digital services to their customers.
Headquartered in Ireland, CR2 is world-leading provider with a market leadership position in Africa, within the Digital Banking Platform market enabling over 100 banks in 60 countries to seamlessly connect and engage with their customers on the most critical banking channels today.
The sheer importance of providing dynamic digital banking payments and services has been highlighted by the Covid-19 pandemic as customers move away from branches and physical interaction.
With CR2’s next generation BankWorld platform, BSB will have the ability to digitally onboard customers remotely, allowing the bank to efficiently increase its customer reach. The new suite of digital services will give BSB’s customers full access to relevant lifestyle-based digital services such as Person to Person payments and utility payments. Customers will enjoy an enhanced digital experience as they will be able to access their accounts, products, loans and mortgages remotely whilst being able to track their spending and budgets through Personal Financial Management, creating a better all-round customer experience.
Kabelo Ngwako, BSB Director of Support Services looks forward to working with CR2 on this significant milestone for the bank. “This investment for BSB is important and we were careful to select an experienced and trusted vendor with knowledge of our market. As CR2 are highly rated and recognised by analysts as a world leading provider of digital banking platforms we know that by bringing them onboard to roll out our digital channels they will give us a platform that will put us at the cutting edge of modern banking in Botswana” said Kabelo Ngwako.
On the announcement of the partnership, Meabh Maguire, CR2’s Global Commercial Manager said that she believes BSB’s move into Digital Banking will give them the edge in an already highly competitive market. “Our BankWorld platform will enable BSB to offer their customers a state-of-the-art digital banking and payments service. In the times that we now find ourselves living, it is key that a bank reacts and adapts quickly for its customers and with this investment, BSB are making a strong statement as to their commitment to the future and to ensuring their customers have access to the best digital banking services available.”
In welcoming the move by BSB, Nicola Kelly, Senior Market Advisor for Enterprise Ireland said, “In CR2, Botswana Savings Bank has chosen their world leading technology to fulfil their ambitious digital transformation strategy that will deliver huge benefits to BSB customers, providing access to the next generation of cutting-edge digital banking services that are being used around the world”.
“When it comes to advances in financial technology, Africa and the rest of the world is looking at Ireland. With the strong reputation for world leading innovation, Irish companies are at the forefront of the financial digital transformation – it’s the Irish Advantage in action”.
With the Middle East’s FinTech sector growing rapidly, Global Shares has made Riyadh, Saudi Arabia its Middle East HQ, making it the 17th office in their global network with the opening of their office in the largest Arab nation in the region. Managing employee share plans for some of the world’s biggest companies, world leading FinTech powerhouse, Global Shares is headquartered in Ireland and has 16 other offices spanning across Europe, America and Asia.
Located in the capital of Saudi Arabia, Global Share’s Riyadh office will act as the hub for the region’s service team and a base for the company’s new Managing Director of the Middle East, Abdulhadi Alherz.
With major plans of expansion in the GCC region, Global Shares has also partnered with NCB Capital – the largest investment bank in Saudi Arabia – who are providing the required custody and dealing services as part of the Global Shares offering.
Commenting on the new Middle East hub, Abdulhadi Alherz said: “Global Shares is a global fintech leader, which has reimagined technology solutions in the employee ownership space. The arrival of a global fintech leader in the employee ownership sector is great news for Saudi Arabia and the wider region, and it’s also exciting for Global Shares”.
He added “Saudi Arabia has a large, strong economy with a population of 33.7 Million and GDP of $790,000,000,000. Our country is highly diverse: 32% of the population is made up of expats and 66% of the population is youthful, both of which will help from a long-term incentive plans perspective”.
Explaining the focus on the region, John Meehan, Global Shares Business Development Director, commented that “The Middle East is a region of huge strategic importance to Global Shares as more and more companies recognise the importance of equity-based compensation.”
In welcoming Global Shares to the region, Enterprise Ireland Senior Market Advisor, Stephen Twomey, said “It is very encouraging to see Global Shares, an Enterprise Ireland backed company, expand their footprint into the Middle East by establishing a presence in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The FinTech scene across the Middle East is both vibrant and thriving with plenty of opportunities. Irish FinTech is well received in this region for its innovative tech and ability to solve complex problems”.
“Global Shares is a great example of why Ireland has forged out its role and reputation as a global hub for finance, technology, and leading fintech innovation,” he added.
With more and more companies looking to expand into the Middle East region, there has been a major boom in the FinTech industry, and an increased opportunity for investment and growth. Global Shares has plans for continued recruitment, training, onboarding new clients and strategic partnerships in the region for 2021.