Fintech Summit 2017 (Brussels) impressions and reports (3/3)


On December 14th 2017 was held in Brussels, the Fintech Summit. Several consultants of Initio were present to assist to various keynotes and new Fintech presentations.

As conclusion of this series of articles, we share with you the opinions of  our consultants Thibault Dubois and Geoffrey Laloux.

Thibault, what Elements spurred your attention ?

“If it’s smart, it’s vulnerable”

These are the words of Mikko Hyppönen, computer security expert and columnist. Host to TED conferences and other events of renown, Mikko raised awareness around cyber crime in a world that becomes increasingly interconnected through IoT.

Why was this especially noteworthy to you?

In 2021 we estimate that there will be more or less 22.5 billion devices connected to the internet, this means, hackers have that many more options to choose from when breaking into a system. To illustrate the far going consequences a weak cybersecurity system could pose:

A garage door that disactivates the alarm when you enter your home. The door is the weak link to deactivate the alarm of the whole house. Or consider a major car crash when we all have self-driving cars.

These are just a few examples in a very long list of what potentially could be hacked. In my opinion, our dependence on technology has a positive linear relationship with the need to secure that technology. But as of now there is an imbalance in pace between technology and security. Security cannot keep up.

What do you see happening in the future for this imbalance to diminish?

First of all there needs to be a global risk standard to govern IoT. Today, a formal risk standard won’t see the daylight in the years to come, this while technology keeps evolving at a steady pace. Another possibility is for the IoT players to partner up and establish the rules. This can be quite challenging since cracks in the IoT ecosystem can come from anywhere, making a collective mindset difficult to reach.  

Companies and institutions need to be aware of the risks that retrofitting (making an older unconnected device, connected) can bring. When connected, older security systems are obsolete in the face of modern hacking tools, hence, they must be updated.

Making IoT less connected. This might sound counterproductive, however, devices can still work perfectly when loosely coupled. If one of the devices is being hacked, the damage can be contained to that specific device without creating a chain reaction in the whole eco-system.  

“There is job security in security”. By simply promoting cybersecurity early one with students, you create a larger workforce that can cope with the increasing workload.

A last but not negligible factor is the promotion of cybersecurity through insurance. Instances that want to insure themselves against cyber threats can do so by underwriting an insurance, however, the insurer also wants to work on the pre-emptive side by offering security tools at an affordable price.

Geoffrey, what will you remember from this Fintech Summit 2017 ?

I was particularly interested in 2 fintechs:  ZappTax and Otly!.

ZappTax is a mobile app aimed at simplifying (and digitizing) the tax refund process while shopping in free-tax zones, and Otly! is another mobile app bringing financial education and pocket money management to children .

Why was this especially noteworthy to you?

The financial education is paramount when you live in an economy vastly based on services and dematerialized financial flows. Even in European countries like ours, studies show that many adults have little to no real basic knowledge in things like mortgage, loans, investment, long term savings etc. 

This is a worrisome weakness in today’s digital world and it won’t slow down, especially when we think of next-gen consumers being able to buy virtual goods online with their pocket money received in a dematerialized way.

In my opinion, it essential that fintechs like Otly!, Klever Cash or even, grasp the importance of this issue  and think of solutions which would increase financial education for kids (and adults).

I believe, traditional banks are missing an opportunity to engage their (future) customers by not developing these services themselves.

What has to change now and in the near future, to reduce this imbalance?

More than ever, incumbent banks must think “Customer Life Time Value”. They need to be more convenient, more focused on customers’ expectations and customer needs

But the problem is that when bankers hear “Customer needs”, they think too much “I have a product for that.” (or I must have a product for that) while clients are expecting above all an answer or a simple word of advice.

Banks have already a customer base, now they need to build an audience. They need to adopt more the “fintech sequence”: Build, Growth, Monetize.

And about ZappTax ?

ZappTax applies another fundamental side of the Digital Economy: Keep It Simple and Kill the middle man. 

The duty-free refund process is outdated; entirely paper-based and designed in a way to create a hassle for candidates who want a tax refund. By treating a significant part of the process via a mobile app, ZappTax solves a pain point and brings convenience to the customer.

How can this be made even better?

We could think about a blockchain-based certification process that would suppress the required customs stamp but without even going that far, we could simply integrate ZappTax features into a traditional Banking or Payment app.  This way the simple act of paying for a good in an eligible duty-free shop could trigger the refund process and again, make it simple. As a result, it will be more secure for all parties involved and even more convenient for the customer.

Convenience is loyalty?


About Authors


Thibault Dubois hold a master degree in general management from the Vlerick Business School and a master degree of business economics with a specialization in finance and business strategy from the University of Leuven. He his consultant for Initio since 2017.


Geoffrey Laloux is the Manager of the Business Line Innovation and Digital Transformation @ Initio since 2015. He as more than 17 years of experience in digital transformation, from the Telecoms industry to the financial sector through European institutions, always with a focus on innovation and customer centricity.