Image of Mo Harvey

 The future looks regulated – regtech report

Photo of Mo Harvey, fintech advisor

The Irish fintech sector has long been dominated by the payments industry but the regtech (regulatory technology) sector in particular has been quietly achieving great heights globally and without much fanfare, until now.

Mo Harvey, Financial Services & FinTech Advisor, Hong Kong, says the sector is often overlooked as it is not consumer-facing, but in fact regtech has been steadily growing in sophistication and applicability.

“There are varying definitions out there (as to what regtech is) but, at its core, it is the use of new technologies by institutions, banks, insurance companies or any regulated entity to meet regulatory compliance challenges in a more efficient way,” she explains. “It transforms risk management and compliance functions and enables companies to strategise and grow while complying with even the most complex regulations.

“Ireland is an important centre for international financial services with a high-quality talent pool working in legal, risk and compliance functions – currently, regtech is the largest indigenous fintech sub-sector and it is bubbling with promise.” says Harvey. 

 

Global Regtech Market

According to Harvey, regtech is the ‘unsung hero’ of the fintech sector and the Asia-Pacific region is ripe for Irish firms within in the sector.

“Pre-pandemic, the global regtech market was predicted to grow from USD$6.3 billion in 2020 to USD$16.0 billion by 2025, a rate of over 20% per year, with Asia-Pacific accounting for the highest growth rate over this period,” she says.  “However, COVID-19 caused an acceleration in adoption in tandem with a fintech boom so the market could hit as high as USD$30 billion by 2025.

“Market and industry drivers such as the 2008 financial crisis, increasing regulatory enforcement actions and fines, proactive regulators encouraging regtech adoption, digital banks, payments and lending, virtual assets and remote onboarding are just some of the contributing factors which have created opportunity for specialised solutions.

“Regtech adoption is mature in Europe and the USA, but Asia-Pacific presents an interesting opportunity for regtech companies. It is a uniquely fragmented region of developed and developing markets, with a number of sophisticated financial ecosystems and complex regulatory environments.” confirms Harvey. 

 

Expanding the Irish Regtech Footprint

Enterprise Ireland began its Asia-Pacific wide regtech initiative over three years ago and has just released its ground-breaking report on The State of RegTech in APAC, and Mo Harvey says the report has even garnered support from all the key fintech ecosystem players throwing their weight behind it, from the APAC RegTech Network and The Regtech Association of Australia to the FinTech Associations of Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan, and Malaysia.

“We could see an increasing number of regtech companies coming out of Ireland and an alignment in terms of potential and opportunity in Asia-Pacific,” she says. “What started as an exclusive market research for Irish regtech companies to help them understand the nuances of the region, has now become the authority on regtech in Asia-Pacific.

“Consequently, people are starting to take note of what Irish regtechs have to offer out here.”

 

Plenty of opportunity for Irish firms

Covid 19 may have caused many problems for industry in every sector across the globe but the fintech expert says it has brought about some positivity for companies in the regtech sector.

Right now, we have a perfect storm of opportunity,” says Harvey. “Regtech adoption in Australia is well-advanced but it is at a relatively early stage in the Asian banking market with opportunities for further growth.

“While many banks have started using regtech, most commonly in financial crime, regtech is employed in a low percentage of risk management and regulatory compliance activities.

“The breadth of regtech adoption is expected to increase over the next year, especially in the areas of conduct, customer protection, regulatory and tax reporting, and regulatory compliance obligations.” says Harvey. 

“In addition, we are seeing regulators in key markets such as Australia, Singapore, Hong Kong, and Japan, all encouraging the adoption of regtech (some regulators going as far as incentivising banks to buy regtech solutions). So now is a good time for regtechs to start building at least one Asia-Pacific market into their expansion strategy.”

 

 Ireland’s Regtech Cluster of Excellence

In outposts around the world, Enterprise Ireland is working hard on behalf of Irish businesses and its strategy with regard to regtech is to help the sector cluster in Ireland to be synonymous with excellence.

“There are a number of Irish companies already enjoying global success,” says Mo Harvey. “These include Fenergo, Vizor, Daon, MyComplianceOffice and Know Your Customer, while AQMetrics, Cerebreon, Sedicii and DX Compliance are gaining international traction. Hopefully more can follow in their footsteps.

“Marrying Europe’s position as a global leader in regulatory and compliance standards with Enterprise Ireland’s investment in innovative technology-driven companies, has provided fertile soil for Ireland to have a world-class regtech cluster and support the imminent global regtech boom.”

 

To learn more download our State of Regtech APAC report.

Jenny Melia, Minister Damien English, Katie Farrell

SQUID: Enabling every business reap the rewards of a customer loyalty scheme through a handy app

At a time when business recovery is on everybody’s mind, winning the loyalty of customers and ensuring repeat business has never been so important. Exactly in the right place at the right time is a new Irish company with a unique product that allows businesses of all sizes implement an effective loyalty scheme for a small price each month.

Established by engineering graduates and best friends Katie Farrell and Matthew Coffey, and supported by Enterprise Ireland’s Competitive Start Fund, SQUID is an innovative loyalty app that is free for customers to download and can hold “virtual” loyalty cards for a range of businesses.

“It was something that a few people were talking about,” explains Katie. “For instance, for food delivery, you have Deliveroo, Just Eat and so on, but for loyalty, many businesses were still using swipe cards, paper cards or their own app. People tend not to want to sign up to too many loyalty schemes because they mightn’t want a load of cards or different accounts.”

The concept is simple so it’s no surprise that Katie and Matthew quickly found several businesses interested in their idea. “It’s a free app, and currently we have over 600 sites on it. We have about 60,000 people using it now.

“The business gets a small device that the customer simply taps with their phone and it adds a “stamp” to their virtual card for that business.” explains Farrell

 This is the basic offering but we’ve added a lot more since then; for instance businesses can now reach out to their customers through push notifications. We’re also looking at doing more integrations as well, for example with food ordering and booking – so in other words, we’re looking at anything a business has to do to drive loyalty, and then we want to simplify it.”

 

Benefits for a small investment

The rewards to the business are significant, especially as the basic package costs just €20 per month. “The app is affordable, it’s free for the users, and it’s more eco-friendly than the printed cards. But people engage with it a lot more than with a paper cards. For instance, 91% of people that placed their first loyalty stamp with SQUID this year have gone on to make another purchase and get another loyalty stamp. And then there’s the ability to actually reach out to your customers as well. We also have a discovery page so you can find new businesses in your area. 

“Each business has their own branded profile page with opening hours, location, social media links, menu etc, so it’s a way of finding new customers too.” says Farrell

Another key benefit is that the business doesn’t have to worry about GDPR. “The contact details and identity of individuals are hidden from the business owners, so they don’t know who they’re talking to or can’t contact them individually by name,” says Katie. “So in a way it saves the businesses the worry about GDPR and for the customer, they can simply turn off the push notifications if they don’t want to receive communications.”

 

Working through Covid

The app launched in October 2019, as Katie and Matthew had put together a small waiting list of customers who were interested in the scheme when they heard about it through SQUID’s initial market research. “We launched with the first five customers in September 2019,” explained Katie. “We decided to start small and grow from there as we were a small team, but we started getting a lot of interest and were onboarding people regularly until Covid hit.”

The beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic resulted in a significant shift in the company’s clients. “We began with a lot of city centre cafés and their customers would be office workers getting a coffee on their way to work. We could see a spike in the morning and then at lunchtime. But when people started working from home, that changed. We were worried at the start, but the café industry did recover and a lot of new places opened up in the suburbs.

“The lockdown gave us time to look at strategy and to market online through social media. To keep some sort of cashflow going, we also added a voucher market feature into the app so people could buy gift vouchers from the businesses they wanted to support during lockdown.”

SQUID had also won funding from Enterprise Ireland’s Competitive Start Fund (CSF), which allowed them to really establish the business before Covid hit and develop the app. Most significantly, Katie applied for the 2019 call for Women Entrepreneurs, which included a business accelerator programme that proved to be invaluable for the ongoing sustainability of the business during Covid.

“I applied for the CSF before we launched and had a waiting list of customers. We put a lot of work into the application and the pitch, and we got it. Before that we were self-funded, so getting the funds from the CSF was our first opportunity to do some more product development – to move it from being just a prototype to becoming an established business.

“I was part of the call for women entrepreneurs, which included participation in the Innovate programme. Each week we got to attend different workshops and talks from entrepreneurs and marketing experts. I found this great as I was able to meet other entrepreneurs who might be a little further along their path than me; I learnt a lot from the workshops and the various talks too. It was also great to get that day just to take a step back from the everyday challenges and work on the overall strategy of the business – I learnt a lot from this programme which definitely helped with the success of the business so far through a challenging time.”

Visit this page for more information about the Competitive Start Fund.

Update on the AMP7 spending cycle and Green Webinar title: UK Water Sector, Recovery Investment Plans

The UK Water Sector and the AMP7 spending cycle – Webinar

This webinar provides an update to the UK Water Sector and the AMP7 spending cycle and Green Recovery Investment Plans.

Hosted by Enterprise Ireland and British Water the webinar discusses the key topics facing the sector with insights provide by industry experts:

  • Lee Horrocks, Director, LCH Executive

  • Lila Thompson, Chief Executive, British Water

  • Matt Lewis, Water Innovation Portfolio Manager, Severn Trent

  • Paul Gardner, Managing Director, Glanagua (UK)

  • Mike Froom, BD Director, TE Tech solutions (part of the Trant Group)

Gain key business insights with our on-demand UK webinar series.

    The Future of UK Ports – Overview, trends and opportunities

    As the UK ports industry enters a time of significant transformation, we hear from leading market experts on the latest trends and opportunities for Irish suppliers in the sector.

    This webinar examines:

    • Ports for offshore wind

    • Freeports

    • Port decarbonisation

    • Smart ports and digitalisation

     

    Contact our UK Cleantech Market Executive or gain key business insights with our on-demand UK webinar series.

      Why Export title

      Export Journey: Step 1 – Why Export?

      Why Export title - image of woman packing a box

      In a post-Covid world access to international markets, buyers, distributors and information is now at the fingertips of Irish SMEs thanks to increased digitalisation.

      When looking towards new markets, it is important to consider the potential benefits of exporting for your company such as;

      1. Diversification of market and reduced vunerability

      A well considered diversification plan can minimise a dependency on the domestic market and the potential exposure to domestic downturn.

      2. Increased revenue and scale

      Exporting opens channels to exponentially expand the home market and identify new markets to take advantage of globally. A larger market base delivers economies of scale, enabling you to maximise your resources.

      3. Improved profitability

      Your ongoing domestic operation should cover business-as-usual fixed costs, either directly or via other types of business financing, which should, in turn, facilitate a faster growth in your export profits.

      4. Best practice and knowledge

      Accessing global markets will provide additional benefits to an exporter, aside from increased revenues such as new ways of doing business, increased awareness of global best practice, cultural and international competitiveness, that could also bring benefits to your market offering in Ireland.

      5. Domestic competitiveness

      Considering your company’s export potential will increase its resilience against potential competition within the domestic market.

       

       

      Assess & validate title and two women at a computer screen

      Export Journey: Step 2 – Assess & Validate

      Assess & Validate title and business people

      Before beginning your export journey you must clearly identify your target market.  You may have preferences based on previous experience, understanding of the language or culture or simply some connection with the market, though a good starting point it’s not enough of a reason to export to this market.

      Market Research will form the backbone of your export strategy as you begin to validate your plans.

      The key elements for consideration are:

      • What makes your product unique
      • Who are your competitors in your selected research market?
      • Who are the buyers in that market?
      • How does your product compare in terms of pricing?
      • How is the product sold in that market?
      • What are the local regulations, certification for selling your product and can you currently comply?
      • A clear understanding as to why you have selected this market as the potential first market.

      What supports are available?

      If your business is at an early development stage the Local Enterprise Office has the supports to help you plan, start and grow

      If you are are already supported by Enterprise Ireland you can contact your Development Advisor here.

      The Market Research Centre provides access to world class research databases to help client companies make better, more informed business decisions. Contact the Market Research Centre here

      Enterprise Ireland hosts events to assist companies’ growth plans – See our events calendar for details.

      Our Market pages and Going Global guides provide expert insights and contact details for our overseas offices.

      Learn how our Exporter Development team can support your growth.

       

       

       

      Positioning Strategy title and businessman

      Export Journey: Step 3 – Positioning Strategy

      Positioning Strategy title and businessman

      Your positioning strategy should set out what you will do to achieve a favourable perception in your new export market.

      Typically companies will try to achieve the same brand positioning regardless of the market. A coherent positioning strategy can be hugely advantageous, so it’s important when reviewing the export potential of your products/goods or services to consider the following:

      1. Customer profiles

      • What is your current USP and will this translate to your new foreign export markets ?
      • Do you understand your domestic customer profile? E.g. age profile, socio-economic grouping etc.
      • Are there other significant demographic patterns to your product or service’s usage?
      • Have you considered the need to modify your product/service to facilitate differences in language, culture and business environments?
      • How do you plan to deliver your services to foreign markets ? In person, via a local partner or using digital resources?

      2. Market Pricing and Value Propostion

      • Consideration whether any necessary changes to make your product/service more appealing to foreign markets and customers?
      • If you’re exporting services, what makes them unique within global markets?
      • Have you benchmarked your services in a global context? Would they be considered to be world-class and stand up to stronger scrutiny?
      • Have you considered the cost implications of servicing overseas markets? Including FX rates and fluctuations?
      • Does your product have a shelf life and will this be impacted by time in transit?
      • Will your packaging have the same impact in a foreign market or can it be easily modified to satisfy new demands?
      • Are there any climatic or geographic factors that could affect the uptake of your product or service in other markets?

      3. Route to Market

      • Do you need special export licensing or documentation to export? i.e. technical or regulatory requirements localised to the market?
      • Are there considerations for the safe transportation of your product to global markets ? i.e. specialized containers or packaging materials?
      • Would transportation costs make competitive pricing a problem?
      • How efficiently does your target market process incoming shipments?

      4. Capacity to support

      • In the event that your domestic/export demand increases beyond current projections, will you still be able to look after both markets?
      • Will you be able to serve both your existing domestic customers and any new foreign clients?

       

      5. Further considerations

      • Do you require a local presence or representation?
      • Will your products/service require local professional support or can this be done digitally?
      • Will after-sales service be required ? Can it be easily sourced locally or do you have to provide it? Does you have the resources to provide it?
      • Are there legal / IP implications to consider when entering global markets?

      Once your positioning strategy is in development, it’s time to consider how to develop your export strategy and access your target market.

       

      Take the next step in the Export Journey

       

      Export Strategy title and port image

      Export Journey: Step 4 – Developing your Export Strategy

      The next step is your export plan. You may have ideas but you need to clearly communicate them in writing so that your whole team is clear on their responsibilities. Having a plan laid out makes it easier to spot pitfalls, gaps and even additional opportunities!

      The export plan is also key in seeking supports in term of financing or grants.  Don’t overcomplicate it, keep it clear and simple.

      The key elements of a successful export plan include:

      1. The Vision

      • What you are going to do. How you are going to do it. What your expected outcome is.

      2. Human Resources

      • Have you the staff, external support and expertise? Have you skills within your team to manage language and cultural differences?

      3. Financial Resources

      • Budget, Sales targets and Pricing – Consider the additional costs involved in selling into the overseas market. Establish a target price for the end user, taking into consideration currency, payment terms, freight and carriage charges, import duties and taxes, commission to partners and competitors’ pricing.

      4. Target Market

      • Why you have selected this market; who your buyers are.

      5. Your Product

      • Your USP and how it translates internationally. Are there external factors which could impact production or sales?

      6. Market Entry

      • Sales channels; marketing plan; regulations, language and local laws.

      7. Monitoring and Developing the market

      • Are you meeting sales targets?

      8. What’s next?

      • How do you plan to grow and scale?

      Access the Market Entry Page

       

       

       

      Market Entry title and businesswoman image

      Export Journey: Step 5 – Market Entry

      Market Entry title and businesswoman image

      Your next priority is for the execution of your company’s vision within new export markets. Key to this will be preparing the company for this change and subsequent increased demand from and servicing of new export markets.

      Consideration for a successful market entry should include;

      1.Identify and allocate adequate resources such as:

        • Financial resources i.e. cash required to sufficiently support overseas exports
        • Additional equipment or fixed assets needed to increase volume or backup global sales
        • People, including staff, suppliers or other valuable relationships in Ireland or overseas

      2. Defining where your first sales will come from

      Will your customers be a distributor which imports in larger quantities, or an overseas agenct or representative acting on your behalf or will it be a separate trading company of your own business?

      3. Developing your lead generation strategy

      Supports will need to be assigned to generate business leads. Will they be predominantly offline, online or a hybrid?

      Offline: fairs, events, conferences, network meetings or

      Online: website, social media, blogs etc.

      You will need to qualify and validate the leads, managing them through a Customer Relationship Management (CMS) system such as Salesforce.

      4. Marketing and communications

      Implementing a successful marketing and communication plan is vital for sustained sales in export markets.

      When developing a plan, it is important not to do a ‘copy and paste’ of the same marketing strategy from your domestic market as these are likely completely disparate territories. While it is logical that you should retain your company values and purpose, you will need to adapt your marketing and communications strategy to your new export market

      5. Implementing a sales process

      By implementing a sales process, you are creating a set of logical, repeatable steps that your sales team goes through to bring a potential buyer from an early stage of awareness to closing the sale. There are various stages that need to be considered in developing an effective sales process, such as;

      a) How will your company cultivate your sales leads?

      b) What preparation will you commit to in order to be ready to capture an overseas sale?

      c) What will be your sales teams approach to a prospective buyer?

      d) How will you adequately present or pitch your sales in an overseas market?

      e) Is your team setup to deal with buyer objections or queries?

      f) Have you experience in closing a sale in an overseas market?

      g) What follow-up work will be done post buyer presentation?

      6. Relationship building

      Relationship building is a key factor in developing sustained sales in export markets. Any company considering to expand globally is undoubtedly looking for a return on their initial investment, and companies looking for better business returns are strongly encouraged to place an emphasis on relationship building.

      Companies can quite often focus on the transactional, revenue generation portion before they consider relationship building. However, as is the case in much of the world, relationships based on mutual respect and trust outplay singular transactions. Relationships need to be worked on and require different approaches for different markets.

      Take the next step in the Export Journey

      Scale title and background image of modern city

      Export Journey: Step 6 – Scale

      Scale title and background image of modern cityYou are now successfully exporting to your first market. Now begin to build on this success and grow your exports.

      You will now have built up a good relationship with the overseas market team and keeping up to date on buyer trends and external factors impacting these trends will enable you to stay competitive.

      Factors to consider in your plans to scale exports:

      1. Resources

      Do you have the necessary resources both in terms of staff and finance to meet the demand of a new market?

      2. Capacity

      Do you have the manufacturing, packaging, logistics, linguistic capacity?

      3. Environmental

      Have you considered your carbon footprint; requirements of buyers?

      4. Sustainable Growth

      How will this impact your current financial standing? Will it strengthen or dilute your position in the market?

      5. Adjacent Markets

      Is there potential in the adjacent markets where buying patterns, pricing and local regulations may be similar?

       

      How can Enterprise Ireland support your growth?

      If you are are already supported by Enterprise Ireland you can contact your Development Advisor here.

      The Market Research Centre provides access to world class research databases to help client companies make better, more informed business decisions. Contact the Market Research Centre here

      Enterprise Ireland hosts events to assist companies’ growth plans – See our events calendar for details.

      Our Market pages and Going Global guides provide expert insights and contact details for our overseas offices.

      Learn how our Exporter Development team can support your growth.

      Recruiting in Germany

      Finding the right person to represent your company internationally is one of the most important decisions you will make. Your company is judged not only by the products and services you offer but by the people who are offering them. Finding the right people to do this at an excellent level is a constant challenge at home and overseas.

      Enterprise Ireland has developed this recruitment guide to provide Irish businesses with expert insights on executive search and selection from one the leading executive search companies in Germany and internationally, Signium.

      Our team of Düsseldorf-based market advisors are available to help you grow your businesses within Germany, Austria and Switzerland and to advise on the vital process of international recruitment.

      Download our guide to recruiting in Germany and find the right people to grow your business overseas.

      graph with export data

      Using market intelligence to inform your export plan

      The saying that ‘knowledge is power’ is certainly true of successful exporting. Companies must understand their customers’ requirements, cultural considerations, market trends and what competitors in the market are doing, in order to succeed.

      Insights gained from high-quality market research are essential for good business decisions for companies with the ambition to grow, export and, indeed, survive. While successful products and services are built on sound market research, a continual process of keeping up-to-date with business intelligence is required, which can be time-consuming and costly.

       

      Market Research Centre

      That is one reason Enterprise Ireland’s Market Research Centre is such a valuable resource. It is the largest repository of business intelligence in Ireland and contains thousands of world-class market research insights, available to Enterprise Ireland supported companies.

      Reports include company, sector, market and country information, which help businesses to explore opportunities and compete in international markets. We use databases from blue-chip information providers such as GartnerFrost & Sullivan, Mintel and others, which provide authoritative, verified information that is independent and reliable. Some of these reports cost tens of thousands of euro individually, so the value of accessing the service is immense.

       

      Using market intelligence to assess new markets

      The Market Research Centre is staffed by eight information specialists who help clients locate the most appropriate sources of knowledge for their requirements. The specialists can track down niche market intelligence that is not available through internet research and can also facilitate access to industry analysts to provide bespoke briefings that deep-dive into subject areas.

      While the UK and European markets remain vitally important for exporters, increasingly diversification into more distant markets is a strategic option. Critical to all such business decisions is access to authoritative market research.

       

      Using insights to make an impact

      An example of how the centre helps companies to explore opportunities in overseas markets is workforce travel company Roomex. Over the last two years, the company has targeted the UK and Germany and is now looking at the huge potential of the US market. Information specialists helped the company gain valuable insights by providing access to global company, country, market and sector data which helped the Roomex to analyse their target customer and competitor base.

      Enterprise Ireland’s research hub offers access to extensive predictive research on future trends, which is invaluable for companies interested in innovation. Knowledge of what might impact a market next provides an opportunity to develop new products or solutions. There are huge opportunities arising from disruptive technologies, such as driver-less cars, but also risks to companies which are not looking ahead

      Growing your business

      Companies which are serious about exporting, growing and future-proofing their business should put continuous research at the heart of their strategy. If your company is considering expanding into new markets the Market Research Centre’s extensive resources and expertise should be your first port of call.

      Contact the Market Research Centre today.