Over 2,500 delegates from fintechs, banks, insurance companies and the digital industry have attended the second “Fintech Week” underway in Hamburg until Sunday (November 12, 2017) under the theme: “One week. One city. The best about the future of finances.” The meet-up, organised by finletter, has attracted all kinds of financial companies and technology firms to Hamburg’s betahaus who have discussed digital ways of shaking up the banking sector. Hamburg News spoke to Carolin Neumann and Clas Beese, the founders of Fintech Week.
Hamburg News: How did the idea for fintech week come about?
Beese: The idea stems from a wish to link up the fintech community. I was acquainted with a lot of events and many people in the sector felt the time was ripe for bringing them all together.
Hamburg News: What is the goal of the event?
Beese: We wanted to bring the established financial sector and start-ups from all over Germany together in one place. That’s why the events are all taking placing in one week so that people from outside the city can come as well. Together with the audience, we wanted to highlight digitalisation in the financial sector.
Hamburg News: The Fintech Week Hamburg debuted in 2016 with 15 events. Thirty events have been held this year. How has the festival developed?
Neumann: In 2016, we noticed the interest in exchanging ideas regardless of whether someone worked in a bank, a fintech, a consultancy or elsewhere. The positive echo was very encouraging. Clearly, this year’s Fintech Week is bigger, broader and more colourful.
Hamburg News: Why Hamburg and what makes the fintech scene here stand out?
Beese: More than 50,000 people in Hamburg work in the financial sector. Digitalisation will change the sector radically in the coming years and decades. We hope to make people in Hamburg’s financial sector more aware of imminent structural change. Hamburg has a mid-sized fintech scene with around 40 firms, which is a good start. But there should be many more and we want to do our bit with Fintech Week.
Hamburg News: What kind of innovative events can visitors look forward to?
Neumann: The Fintech Week Hamburg has made space for many different formats such as expert conferences, meet-ups, bar camps and the start-up weekend – and they all target many different groups. What might interest one person may be totally unsuitable for someone else. So I do not want to promote any event in particular.
Hamburg News: What are your personal highlights?
Beese: I played a different role on one evening. Then I was working for the Finanzplatz Hamburg e.V. and presented Fintech Hamburg, an initiative to strengthen the fintech location, in our fintech lounge. I was very pleased with that and now I am really looking forward to the start-up weekend.
Hamburg News: Has betahaus Hamburg proven a good location?
Neumann: For such a diverse week of events, it was very important to us to have a kind of headquarters where all the threads and people come together. The betahaus is the ideal hub because start-ups and firms work there throughout the year on innovations and not just during Fintech Week.
Hamburg News: More and more women are establishing themselves in the fintech sector. What role do you expect them to play during Fintech Week?
Neumann: Unfortunately, a far too diminished role. They will account for about one-fifth of delegates. But I know that from other contexts. Getting more women up on stage means sending more requests because women cancel their attendance more often or decline not to attend at all. The problem is reinforced in the banking and fintech sector because fewer women are in managerial positions. And if no attention is paid to it, then you quickly have only one or two token women at an event. We want and must focus more on this in 2018 and make our partners aware of this situation.
Hamburg News: What are your hopes for the future of Fintech Week Hamburg?
Beese: We are really pleased with this year’s events. We would like municipal support for the Fintech Week 2018 and later. A welcoming speech by the mayor, like this year, would be a good start. And we hope to focus on even more topics and that Hamburg’s fintechs, banks and insurers host their own events.
Interview by Sarah Bischoff