Fintech Insurtech

EXEC 2017 – two conferences, many takeaways

EXEC 2017 – two conferences, many takeaways. Image: canadastock,
Written by Phil Siarri

Analytics in insurance, advancements in blockchain, and going cashless in Germany. Phil Siarri reports back from EXEC 2017 in Berlin.

On 5-6 April, I attended the EXEC Fintech/Insurtech conferences in Berlin, Germany. The event featured a diverse group of professionals, mostly from Germany and other European countries, but also from Canada, the US and other parts of the world. Here are my main takeaways.

Advanced analytics in insurance

Recently, the release of previously inaccessible public sector data has greatly expanded potential sources of third party data. The European Union has recently launched “open data” websites to make available great amounts of government statistics, including health, education and safety.

German insurance companies have clearly understood the benefits of using such statistics to refine frameworks such as fraud prevention and claims processing. A concrete example is the use of accident data from local police authorities to ensure the validity and accuracy of claims.

Germany remains a cash-oriented society, but that’s slowly changing

In Germany, one third of consumer transactions are cashless (versus 60% in Sweden), and there are only 0.06 credit cards in existence per person. This comes as no surprise, as the concept of debt is closely associated with guilt in the German psyche. This deeply ingrained mentality has historically been perceived as an obstacle to fintech adoption.

However, mentalities are changing, exemplified by the success of Berlin-based digital bank N26 among millennial consumers.

N26 has opened more than 300,000 bank accounts and a thousand people sign up every day. The vast majority of users live in Germany and Austria (it’s good to note the bank is undergoing an aggressive international expansion).

The blockchain monoculture is no more

The consensus among conference panellists was that blockchain is definitely going beyond its cryptocurrency roots. One project that was particularly talked about was Hyperledger, which has been used towards voting and healthcare prototypes.

Planning an international career in fintech

There was a particular panel I thought was quite interesting. It featured several individuals who decided they wanted to work internationally either as expats or nomads.

The panellists urged the audience to explore opportunities beyond established financial centres such as London and New York. The highlight of the exchange was without a doubt fellow Canadian Daniel Steeves speaking on his experience advising companies in Africa, including Nigerian payment platform VoguePay (which included many insightful cultural ‘nuggets’).

Overall, it was an enjoyable, relaxed event with quality guests. I’m looking forward to the 2018 edition.

READ NEXT: Sweden going cashless

About the author

Phil Siarri

Phil Siarri is an innovation management professional and fintech observer. He has been selected as one of Canada’s top 40 social influencers in finance, innovation and risk by Thomson Reuters, as well as top 50 fintech influencers in Montreal by FinFusion.


  • Daniel Steeves is right about the impact of fintech in African economies. Hence, most of Africa is privileged to leapfrog legacy banking institutions due to the impact of fintech solutions. At VoguePay for example, the impact of our leading online payment gateway in Nigeria has helped over 40,000 small business owners access global market simply by plugging to our free API. This is testament to how homegrown solutions can help Africans send and receive payments globally. VoguePay has gone on to win several awards, including the best online payment platform in Africa, among several accolades.

  • Interesting conversations about blockchain and fintech. But why is it that cash still rules even in places like Germany? Do you by any chance have the figure on the percentage of transactions in Africa that are cashless?

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