Speech at FinTech Fusion Launch by ADAPT Centre for Digital Content Technology

21st September, 2018


Good morning/afternoon ladies and gentlemen, it is a pleasure for me to be here today at the launch of the ‘Fintech Fusion’ programme at the ADAPT Centre.


I would like to start by thanking the centre for extending an invitation to me to launch the programme.


As the people in this room will be well aware, research centres such as ADAPT play a vital part role in developing applications for emerging complimentary technologies such as blockchain, Internet of Things, and Deep Learning, and will continue to help Ireland to be recognised as a leading knowledge economy.


ADAPT Centre

The FinTech Fusion research programme contributes and aligns with the goals of the Irish Government’s International Financial Services 2020 Strategy.  

FinTech Fusion shows the power of potential; the potential that can be unleashed when leading researchers and industry work together to discover innovative solutions to new problems.  

The funding allocated to Science Foundation Ireland Research Centres to date has shown great opportunities for the country and the ADAPT Centre is helping to position Ireland at the forefront of the digital content and the fintech sector.


ADAPT is contributing to ensuring the sector has the skills and talent required to facilitate continued investment across the sector.


The ADAPT Centre remains a core element for Ireland’s world leading content technologies research.


I believe it is crucial for academia and industry to work closely together and ensure that we benefit fully from their respective knowledge and expertise in the area.


The investment in ADAPT from Science Foundation Ireland is part of the Irish Government’s wider effort to invest in research, support innovation and build Ireland’s knowledge and skills creating a global hub for digital content technologies. 


I look forward to the future innovations coming from the ADAPT Centre as it continues to provide cutting-edge solutions to problems of our digital age.


Fintech and Blockchain

As you will be well aware, Ireland has an established track record in both the financial services and technology sectors.


This is the cornerstone of our fintech sector; a sector which has seen rapid growth in Ireland and will be crucial in Ireland remaining at the forefront of developments in international financial services.


In particular, Ireland continues to strengthen its credentials as a destination for innovation in the blockchain technology sector.


This October, Ireland will host the European Blockchain for Finance conference in Dublin’s Aviva Stadium.


This will be followed in May 2019 by a meeting of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) in Dublin where global standards pertaining to blockchain technology will be determined by some of the World’s foremost blockchain experts.


These events will bring together influential leaders from across the financial services and technology sectors, and showcase Ireland as a home for international thought leadership.


The strength of Ireland’s knowledge economy is continuing to drive employment in blockchain related jobs with global companies such as MasterCard, IBM, Deloitte and Consensys all choosing Ireland as a destination of choice to expand their European blockchain operations.


Meanwhile, my Department continues to play its part in helping to grow this exciting new sector with its dedicated Virtual Currencies and Blockchain Working Group.

To date the Working Group has helped to bring clarity to consumers, investors and businesses on matters relating to tax, regulation and consumer protection.


The Group continues to provide input into policy making forums at a European and global level, while also engaging at a more local level through its contribution to the IDA led ‘Blockchain Ireland’ initiative.


Enterprise Ireland’s work

In addition to investments from Science Foundation Ireland, Enterprise Ireland has undertaken extensive work in recent years in facilitating a favourable investment environment for financial services, particularly for fintech firms.


In June I was pleased to see Enterprise Ireland launch their annual fund for fintech start-ups. The €750,000, ‘Competitive Start Fund for Fintech and Deep Tech’ will enable recipient companies working in areas including fintech,  artificial intelligence, machine learning, augmented and virtual reality, blockchain and cloud, to reach key technical and commercial milestones.


This fund paves the way for a new generation of fintech firms in Ireland to thrive and succeed on the global stage.


This year Enterprise Ireland also began work on a fintech census, the aim of this census is to accurately map Ireland’s Fintech sector for the first time.


The Fintech Census initiative is a key action of my Department’s IFS2020 Action Plan for 2018.

The census is open to all Irish and international Fintech firms operating in Ireland, the census aims to provide a crucial fact-base for fintech stakeholders on the scope, scale and strategic positioning of the sector in Ireland and to chart its growth. 


I look forward to the outcome of this work and the initiatives we will be able to build for the sector into the future.



Ireland has a successful history in the payments sector, a sector which is at the forefront of digital changes and innovation.


In January Ireland transposed the revised Payment Services Directive 2.


The directive encourages innovation by ensuring a level playing field for both new and existing players in the market.


Opportunities with PSD2 are not confined to Ireland but are European wide and is the latest in a line of developments at the EU designed to create a single market for payments across the Union.



Ireland is now the fourth largest exporter of financial services within the EU, and we believe that there is potential for even further growth for the sector.



To ensure Ireland remained responsive in a competitive environment, in 2015 the Irish Government launched the IFS2020 Strategy.


The Strategy’s vision is for Ireland to be recognised as a global location of choice for specialised international financial services.


The job creation target, which was the core aim of the IFS2020 was to increase the number employed in the International Financial Services sector from 35,000 in 2015 to 45,000 by the end of 2019.


I am pleased to see we are on track to achieve this target with almost 7,000 net new jobs created in the international financial services sector up to the end of 2017.


New Strategy

International financial services is one of the most competitive and rapidly changing global industries.


It is for this reason that my colleague Minister of State for Financial Services and Insurance Michael D’Arcy T.D. secured Government approval to commence work on a successor strategy to IFS2020. 


Initial engagements have occurred with the key stakeholders who constitute the membership of the IFS2020 Industry and Public Sector Committees to start the thinking process about the future of IFS in Ireland.


 In essence, we are seeking to find out what worked well under IFS2020 and what could have been improved. 


We are also seeking to identify emerging opportunities and challenges over the coming 5 – 7 years. 


We need to be able to maintain and grow our existing IFS sector by exploiting opportunities and meeting any emerging challenges in this very dynamic and very competitive sector. 


In addition to working with the IFS2020 Committee architecture, Minister D’Arcy will shortly be launching a public consultation process and I would welcome each and everyone of you here this evening to feed your views into this. 


IFS2020 was a strategy developed between the public and private stakeholders involved in IFS and we hope to do the same for the new strategy. 


It is a great opportunity to input your views and ideas into a new strategy which will be important for the development of IFS over the coming five to seven years.


European Financial Forum

Before I conclude I’d like to briefly mention the fourth annual European Financial Forum which is due to take place on 13 February 2019 in Dublin Castle.

The forum has gone from strength to strength since it was launched in 2016 and has now become a flagship event on the financial services calendar.


A number of high profile speakers have been confirmed for 2019 including; An Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar; Raphael Bostic, President of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta; Anne Finucane, Vice Chair of Bank of America; and Carl Tannenbaum; Chief Economist at Northern Trust.


We expect further announcements regarding speakers in the coming months and I have no doubt that this fourth edition of the EFF will build upon the success of previous editions.



I’d like to once again thank the ADAPT Centre for the invitation to speak at today’s event.


I believe that with collaboration between research centres, universities, Government and industry, we can make Ireland an epicentre for innovation in cutting edge technologies such blockchain, internet of things, and Deep Learning which will ensure our fintech sector continues to become embedded in our wider financial services ecosystem.


Thank You.