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A Review: Copenhagen Fintech Week Global 2020

Copenhagen Fintech Week Global 2020 was held this week. It’s the latest in a series of post-summer Fintech events being held around Europe. As with the other ‘Fintech Weeks’, it was held in a fully virtual way. Attendees are likely getting to grips now with how these events work, how agendas can be accessed, and live streams watched. 

Copenhagen Fintech, a non-profit organisation, states that they aim to shape the future of finance, by creating unique connections between startups, corporates, investors, and academia. The goal is that innovative and compelling fintech solutions will emerge as a result of these connections.

Taking advantage of the virtual platform, the two-day event was truly global in nature, with over 150 speakers from six continents and 30 different countries in attendance. Sustainability, Smart Cities Fintech Partnerships, Big Tech, Data Ethics, and more were all on the agenda. A particular prominence was given to the Global Sustainability track, along with Nordic-based Fintech companies.

Global Sustainability

The Nordic countries are often seen as global leaders when it comes to sustainable practises, environmental-friendly policies, and forward-thinking programs. And at Copenhagen Fintech Week, the ‘Global Sustainability Track’ was put front & centre, along with the Fintech & Research. Speakers from across the world were addressing how companies can be sustainable & what innovations are required to improve global sustainability as a whole. Indeed, the event’s tagline was “Shaping a sustainable Future”

Some of the key backdrops that played a part in the discussions over these two days included the 75th General Assembly of the United Nations and, of course, the Covid-19 pandemic. Both of these ‘events’, whilst very different in nature, are ones that serve as a reminder that modern problems require global solutions & co-operation. Therefore it is telling that, in an event which gives such a high prominence to sustainability, is also one that takes time to be globally inclusive, and that focuses on collaboration with the Tech sector as a whole.

Funding Sustainability 

Highlighted in the opening discussion for the event, the role that Finance & Asset Management has to play within the larger picture of sustainability. Funds that manage many billions of dollars in capital can end up having a big say in this field. Who they choose to invest, or not invest in, partner or not partner with, is a choice for the company, the fund managers, and the shareholders. In this keynote talk Erik Alhoej, CEO at Engagement International, highlighted that many investors they work with are taking it upon themselves to align with firms, funds & startups that “have a good track record in terms of sustainability,” along with clear plans for a more sustainable future. And it’s not just for altruistic reasons, as firms can benefit from a PR boost whilst tapping into emerging trends. And, of course, an unsustainable future does not benefit anyone within the global economy. 

Sustainability in Practice

There were a variety of different talks, outside of the keynote, that aimed to tackle the question of sustainability. One of these was titled “Building a System for Green Finance”. This talk featured an intriguing double act: Henrik Madsen, Professor at the Technical University of Denmark, presented an explanation of how AI and other tools can be utilised to increase and maximise energy optimisation, and Jonas Bjarke Jensen, Senior Economist, at Copenhagen Economic, gave examples of how this research could be used, and where it is most needed.

Again reflecting the global focus on the Copenhagen Fintech Week, the rest of the talks & discussions on sustainability were region-specific. For example, with the Americas, Valerie Smith, Chief Sustainability Officer at Citi, posed the question as to whether sustainable organisations & innovations have now become a necessity, especially in those regions most affected by unsustainable practices. Diversity & Inclusion, Digital trends, and social change were also discussed, in relation to both Sustainability, and different regions.

Summary

Copenhagen Fintech Week 2020 was a great example of how events and organisations can adapt to the new climate created by the ongoing pandemic. This was done in two ways – firstly by marketing this as a truly global event, with different sections tailored to different regions, and secondly by using the ‘New Normal’ as a basis for discussing the next fintech innovations.

With its focus on sustainability, this event is a clear sign that the Copenhagen fintech community recognises that fintech companies, and in particular Nordic ones, are uniquely positioned to lead the way on sustainability efforts. Due to the interconnected nature of modern society, any goals must be achieved on a global level, with a high level of collaboration. Fortunately, that is something that the Fintech community is well known for – and many of these attendees are likely to have appreciated the talks, discussions & networking that was based around this.

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