More than 20 leading fintechs have joined forces to campaign for a fairer and more accessible financial services landscape, and to share knowledge between companies, EU policymakers and the public.
The newly-formed European FinTech Association (EFA) will ‘leverage the expertise’ of fintech providers, including Funding Circle, N26, TransferWise, Truelayer and Zalando, to forge a ‘truly digital financial services agenda’.
The not-for-profit Brussels-based organisation, which brings together the previously established EFAlliance and FinTechs4Europe, says it has a clear focus on enabling a common market for financial services.
In an interview with The Fintech Times, Marc Roberts, at the EFA, said: “There are national associations for fintechs that cover national topics in the different jurisdictions, however, there was not a single European voice. What we have seen is that for many European fintechs, particularly the members of the European FinTech Association, we want to make the whole of Europe our market.”
“We want to offer cross border services digitally and for that, the European integration and the common market is the way to go. We are already on the same vibe as the European Union, in that regard, because we want to scale our businesses across Europe.”
According to Roberts, the EFA is open to new members – providers ranging from payments, to lending, banking, robo-advice, identity verification and investment – and attracted a significant number of interested companies in the days following its ‘official launch’ in mid-June.
Roberts said: “We are definitely looking for new members that share our views and our mission and that want to help us bring forward matters on the European level. We’ve worked a lot with our networks in order to set this up and going forward we’re trying to also attract members that will be active publicly for the association.”
“We are very open to new fintechs, there is no restriction with regards to the business model or jurisdiction or anything. We just want a relevant company that wants to impact European policy and wants to be a European fintech and has the same view with regard to European policy issues.”
Despite Brexit, companies based in the UK, or indeed other countries outside of the EU, will also be welcome – as long as they have a passion for European matters, says Roberts.
“As you have seen from our member list, we have quite a few UK fintechs and we are still open to UK fintechs,” says Roberts. “Obviously, our mission relates to European policy, so I think for a fintech that doesn’t want to be active in that market this is probably not the association for them and wouldn’t be of interest for them. We’re looking at fintechs that want to be active on the European market, but we don’t say you only have to be in the European market. So, you could be a US fintech, that is active on the European market.”
Some of the issues the EFA will focus on include removing digital-only and cross-border barriers, such as a fragmented anti-money laundering (AML) rules and International Bank Account Number (IBAN) discrimination, delivering open banking and open finance initiatives, showcasing the benefits of digital offerings to stakeholders and supporting talent and growth of fintechs in Europe.
“We go from priority to priority but at the moment the big priority is the digital finance agenda which will be submitted very soon to the European Commission,” says Roberts. “Our input will play a big role and we want to be very active there. There’s also a consultation on payments and new AML rules, the question of whether we need a European regulation and harmonisation of anti-money laundering provisions.”
“At the same time, we also have internal points, such as getting new members organised and working groups to formalise a little bit more for the consultations. Once the coronavirus crisis is over, we will also reunite a little and have a members event in Brussels to deepen the contacts with all the other European stakeholders, including the European Parliament, the European Banking Authority and parts of the of the European Commission. There is a lot to do and we won’t get bored!”
Commenting on the launch of EFA, Jan Ceyssens, head of unit, digital finance, at the European Commission, said: “Making Europe fit for the digital age is a key element of the EU recovery strategy. Now is the moment for fintechs to coordinate their voices across Europe.”