Our economic recovery is strengthening and we must keep it going. Thus the Government’s focus has sharpened to identify sustainable avenues to a prosperous future. Fintech is one such avenue.

The context for this optimism is twofold, one rooted in a major cause of the financial crisis, the other in a driver of our rapid recovery, namely credit supply and the resilience of our successful Foreign Direct Investment sector.

As to the former, an over-reliance on traditional forms of credit was a root cause of the asset price inflation that led to the property crash.

On the other hand, the strength of our FDI sector, with 175,000 people directly employed in IDA-supported companies, enabled us to weather the worst of the crisis and, as reflected in growth and employment figures, has accelerated the speed of recovery.

More so the make-up of this sector – with the 10 largest online companies, 9 of the top 10 global software and 15 of the top 25 financial services companies operating out of Ireland - provides ideal conditions to foster a standout Start-Up and SMEs culture at the crossroads of ICT and IFS.

This critical mass of corporate expertise coupled with our Eurozone membership and the advance of the EU Capital Markets' Union, with the aim of diversifying credit supply to the real economy beyond the traditional banking sector, provides real impetus for the entry of new credit providers, new forms of capital raising, and greater consumer choice in response to changing customer demands.

Ireland’s mix of large and small, of foreign and indigenous companies underpin the general approach of the Government's recently launched long-term job creation Strategy, Enterprise 2025, which will see Ireland evolve into an enterprise and export-focussed economy capable of sustaining a revived domestic sector.

This is already the case in our financial services’ sector which has seen phenomenal growth since the late 1980s where a handful of companies located in the Dublin docklands now number more than 400 spanning the length and breadth of the country.

It is in this vein that IFS2020 was developed and is being implemented.  Given our recognised global lead in Innovation and ‘availability of skilled labour’ indices it was inevitable that Fintech would be a strategic priority.

Under this rubric progress is being made to identify and align the components of a responsive Fintech ecosystem, be they harnessing and attracting talent, kick-starting Start-Ups and scaling SMEs, and continuing to raise awareness as to why Ireland is the best place to locate and carry out cutting edge R&D.

IFS2020 will continue to build on Ireland’s Fintech Advantage.

Simon Harris TD is Minister of State at the Departments of Finance, Public Expenditure & Reform, and the Department of the Taoiseach (Prime Minister).  Across this broad brief he has special responsibility for International Financial Services, Public Procurement and the Office of Public Works.

First elected to the Irish Parliament at the last election of 2011 he has served on the Parliamentary Committee on Finance, Public Expenditure & Reform, its Public Accounts Committee, and was Convenor of the Cross-Party Group on Mental Health.

He is the Irish representative on the Ecofin Budget Council, and alternate for the Minister for Finance at Eurogroup and Ecofin meetings.  He is a member of the Irish Cabinet sub-committees on Economic Recovery & Jobs and Public Sector Reform & Social Policy.

Minister Harris is responsible for the ongoing development and implementation of the Government’s recently published International Financial Services Strategy, IFS2020, and chairs meetings of the associated Public Sector High-Level Implementation Committee and Industry Advisory Group.