The sixth edition of the Finance Forum Liechtenstein took place on the 1st of September in Vaduz, despite COVID. Themed “the future of finance,” leading experts discussed the most pressing challenges of the industry in Liechtenstein and Switzerland. What we learned from the event.
Like in previous years, digital technologies were the key focus of this year’s Finance Forum. Especially after the outbreak of the COVID-pandemic, businesses increasingly see the advantages of digital tools, but also the disadvantage of the lack thereof.
Prime Minister Adrian Hasler kicked off the event. After that, Markus Nigg, COO of the IT-consulting firm ti&m, and Günther Dobrauz, partner at PwC Legal Switzerland, discussed the ongoing digitalization of the financial industry. Both reminded established financial industry players to focus more on Fintech and the needs and wants of their customers.
Their message seems to be well-understood in Liechtenstein. The country has gained a world-renowned reputation for its financial stability in the past decades that international investors appreciate. To keep domestic financial services businesses competitive, Liechtenstein has started to massively push a digital agenda about five years ago.
That has resulted in two trends: First, Fintech startups have moved to Liechtenstein – or launched in Liechtenstein – to take advantage of the country’s favorable legislation, fintech ecosystem, and economic stability. Second, Liechtenstein-based banks have started to launch their own digital agendas, for example, Bank Frick, which has become a European frontrunner in blockchain banking.
Recently, however, we haven’t heard that much anymore about Liechtenstein’s digital push, also because the pandemic has largely dominated the headlines. Another reason is that neighboring economies, especially Switzerland and Germany, are catching up in terms of regulations. If a small country like Liechtenstein wants to keep its leading role in financial industry digitalization, businesses need to use the opportunities they have and be brave. That was also the message of Nigg and Dobrauz.
International cooperation paramount for Fintech development
Particularly interesting was also the message of Andréa Maechler, a member of the Board at the Swiss National Bank (SNB). She pointed out the importance of monetary policy for digitalization. According to Maechler, the key fintech innovation in the next years will revolve around payment processes, as contactless payments, online shopping, and simple financial transactions are the most sought-after financial services by regular banking customers.
Fintech will also facilitate cross-border transactions, which is why international cooperation will become more crucial to achieve progress. Joschka Fischer, Germany’s former minister of foreign affairs, pointed out during his speech at the Finance Forum that “international cooperation is more important today than it has ever been before.”
He said the COVID-pandemic was a warning for international leaders. He also referred to increasing trade tensions between the USA and China, which will force Europe to come together and act as one united block to defend its values and interests. He also believes countries like Liechtenstein and Switzerland will benefit from increasing global tensions, as investors will look for a safe haven to protect their assets.
Event participants remain optimistic
About 250 decision-makers, mainly from Liechtenstein, Switzerland, Germany, and Austria, attended the event. Attendants also participated in workshops and shared their opinions in live-polls.
The result of these polls showed an overall positive picture and a positive outlook for Liechtenstein as a prime location for financial businesses. However, the general tune among the participants was not as upbeat as it had been in previous years. The speakers saw, in particular, the rising insecurity around the COVID-pandemic as one reason for less optimism.
At ICO.li, we would like to build upon that and gather your opinion about the attractiveness of Liechtenstein as a prime location for digital businesses. Please take a moment to fill in the following questionnaire to help us show a realistic sentiment: