Talking Fintech and Hacking at Inspirefest 2017

Inspirefest isn’t your average tech conference. Taking place in Dublin’s Silicon Docks, the conference explores the latest themes in tech with a host of world class speakers covering everything from Blockchain to gaming. But there’s no running from talk to talk at this event – there’s one stage and the speakers keep it succinct, averaging at 15mins a talk. Inspirefest also puts diversity and inclusion front and centre, meaning you’ll certainly be brushing shoulders with all kinds of interesting people who think differently. This year’s conference was no exception.

Hacking the System

One memorable speaker was Tarah Wheeler, a website security czar at Symantec and a self-confessed white hat hacker. Tarah took to the stage to discuss the recent ransomware attacks and their resulting silver lining. She explained: “These attacks bring to the forefront of our awareness that we have experienced an attack, creating a greater pressure on companies everywhere to be more transparent about the kinds of data breaches they’ve experienced. We’re working directly with people who have been affected, and knowing is always better than not knowing.” She gave a rallying cry to the audience to consider a career in information security, noting: “New minds are the ones that solve problems in information security. The people in this room think differently and we need that every single day. We need people who don’t think the same.”

Thinking Differently About Banking

Lesley Tully from Bank of Ireland discussed how the human-centric principals behind design thinking could be applied to make banking better. She explained how Bank of Ireland used design thinking to deliver what their business customers really wanted – a place to hot-desk. The resulting initiative, Bank of Ireland Workbenches, gave start-ups a place to go to get work done without the commitment and cost of renting an office space.
Sticking with the FinTech theme, Matt Flannery took to the stage to talk about the two companies he co-founded. Kiva, a non-profit, was the world’s first person to person money-lending website. Started in 2005, Kiva makes it possible for anyone to lend money to low-income entrepreneurs in over 80 countries. He noted: “Kiva works in eight countries around the world and we just passed our billionth dollar.”
Building on his experience with Kiva, Flannery is now working on an interesting new for-profit finance company called Branch. Branch aims to change the face of banking in Sub-Saharan Africa, a region where smart phone use is rising rapidly and the banking system is often slow and inefficient. He explained: “The people of Sub-Saharan Africa, and generally the developing world, are coming on to the internet for the first time. So, there’s this mass migration from people who used to use feature phones but are now using smartphones. And there’s this big opportunity to serve them with FinTech directly and cut out the middleman i.e. traditional banks and old fashioned practices that still use cash and make people wait 3-6 months to get access to financial services and banking.”

Feeling Inspired?

Ireland has so much to offer your tech career. From events like Inspirefest where you can be inspired by some of the most innovative people in tech, to job opportunities at the cutting edge of the tech industries. Read more about tech in Ireland.