You are here
Flanders, a fintech hub you can bank on
Since 2008, the fintech industry has found fertile ground in Flanders. Located in the heart of Europe and marked by a welcoming and dynamic business environment, the region boasts an impressive track record:
- There are over 100 fintech companies in Flanders, ranging from innovative startups to established heavyweights, creating a healthy blend of experimentation and experience.
- From the industry’s early beginnings, Flanders has been a fintech pioneer – with local fintech companies paving the way forward and going global rapidly. Think of Jurgen Ingels’ Clear2Pay, for example.
- Belgium, and Flanders as a region, is ranked the 5th-most powerful European fintech hub, according to the collaborative B-Hive platform.
- Belgian fintech firms are popular with foreign capital providers, raising a total of EUR 118 million across 33 capital rounds between 2017 and 2019. Most of the foreign capital comes from France (30%), the US (20%) and the UK (8%) (source: Datanews Knack, 2019).
- Flanders boasts major technological and R&D credentials in cybersecurity, a vital enabler for the fintech industry.
The term ‘fintech’ covers all new technologies and business models that disrupt traditional finance, from crowdfunding and blockchain to payment tech and digital wealth management. Nowhere else is this exemplified better than in Flanders’ varied and versatile ecosystem, with its numerous research centers, incubators and accelerators, and world-renowned start-ups. In addition, the region is home to a vibrant digital society and talent pool.
These movers and shakers are taking major strides to advance fintech in Flanders and beyond:
- Silverfin – Ghent-based platform for digital transformation in accountancy.
- CashForce – cash management experts who sell, support and customize DiscoverEdge solutions.
- IbanFirst – a fast-growing start-up from Antwerp (Flanders) that has been drawing attention with its financial services platform for SMEs looking for a better way to do business internationally.
- Qover – an insurance partner for digital business based in Brussels with an impressive track record and ambitious international growth plans.
- Twikey – a fintech startup enabling simple and accessible SEPA direct debits through e-Mandates.
- Edebex – offers a safe, secure and efficient solution for companies that want to optimize their treasuries.
- NGDATA – big data management platform for financial services organizations.
- The Glue – digital integration platform headquartered in Diegem (Flanders) that aims to enable fundamental transformation in banking.
- Intix – develops solutions for financial institutions and corporate treasuries that transform how any form of financial transaction data can be accessed, searched, interpreted and used.
- IntellectEU – an innovative, international key player in financial integration and middleware solutions for fintech companies.
TransferWise (UK) transfers itself to Flanders
In 2020, fintech unicorn and international multi-currency agency TransferWise chose Brussels – the capital of both Belgium and Flanders – as the location for its tenth global office. According to founder and CEO Kristo Käärmann, the new office serves as a gateway to post-Brexit Europe: “Brussels is situated at the very heart of all things EU. Our new office will allow us to keep providing great services to all our customers around the globe.”
Idinvest (FR) invests in The Glue, fintech pioneer from Flanders
In 2020, French tech investor Idinvest decided to channel EUR 5 million into The Glue, a fintech pioneer from Flanders. In this way, Idinvest aims to support The Glue in its mission to help banks with outdated IT legacy systems enter the era of open banking.
Get acquainted with these state-of-the art incubators and science parks and bring your fintech business to the next level:
- Belcube – tech and fintech investment group and advisory board for entrepreneurs in the industry.
- Innotribe – SWIFT’s fintech innovation initiative, Innotribe brings together highly qualified financial services experts, angel investors, venture capitalists and global decision makers.
Europe’s main payment associations are headquartered in Brussels, the capital of both Belgium and Flanders. As such, some of the main sector and networking organizations boosting Flanders’ fintech industry include:
- EPSM – European Association of Payment Service Providers.
- ETA – European Transactions Association.
- Federation FinTech Belgium – represents and brings together fintech companies in Flanders and Belgium as a whole.
- Agoria Financial Services Technology Club – units IT companies that provide both software and hardware solutions to the financial industry.
When deciding to establish activities or headquarters in Flanders, your fintech business can reap the rewards of:
- government subsidies and support for investments in R&D and innovation, strategic transformation, ecological efforts, growth and other domains.
- tax incentives to fund a broad range of business activities.
- fiscal options to help you cut labor costs.
- SmartFin Capital, a technology private equity fund founded in 2014 by Jurgen Ingels, Bart Luyten, Edward Schiettecatte and Stefan Dierckx.
Flanders offers access to several tax incentives that are particularly relevant to innovative domains like fintech. Examples include:
- the innovation income deduction – up to 85% of a company’s net innovation income can be exempt from corporate tax.
- the R&D investment deduction – 13.5% of the investment value (at once) or 20.5% of the annual depreciation (staggered).
- the R&D payroll tax exemption – 80% of the withholding tax on professional income for researchers and academic personnel.