Ahead of the FinTech Europe Conference, the Center for Financial Professionals interviewed Pēteris Zilgalvis, Head of Unit, Start-ups and Innovation, Digital Single Market Directorate, DG Connect, European Commission.
Pēteris, can you please tell the Risk Insights readers a little bit about yourself, your experiences and what your current professional focus is?
Glad to. I am a barrister and political scientist by training, was an adjunct professor and was the Visiting EU Fellow at St. Antony’s College, University of Oxford in 2013-14. Along with practicing law, I worked in the Ministries of Environment and of Foreign Affairs in Latvia, in the World Bank, the Council of Europe and now as Head of Unit for Startups and Innovation in the Digital Single Market Directorate of DG CONNECT in the European Commission. I am the co-Chair of the Commission’s FinTech Task Force.
What area of FinTech do you find most interesting and why?
I have particular interest in the innovative digital technologies that can transform finance such as blockchain and artificial intelligence and how regulatory frameworks can adapt to them while preserving consumer protection and other legitimate interests.
You will be presenting at the FinTech Europe Summit on your insight regarding: ‘The Digital Single Market enabling the FinTech revolution.’ Why is this a key talking point? And what can Innovation Professionals look to gain from this insight?
The digital revolution in finance is underway but there are more gains on the horizon linked to use of the Cloud, Big Data, AI and blockchain, while also cybersecurity challenges need to be taken seriously.
What would you say are the biggest challenges that face the EU’s single market in the digital age?
Fragmentation, the need for digital skills in the workforce, and ensuring cybersecurity.
With digital and technological innovation progressing fast, how can we ensure that start-ups don’t have their horizons limited?
Accomplishing a real Digital Single Market and using initiatives like Startup Europe comes to Silicon Valley, Startup Europe-India, and Startup Europe-Africa to increase international market opportunities.
What, in your opinion does the future hold for innovation professionals, and have you got any advice for keeping up with the increasing technological changes?
The future is bright but we’ll have to keep abreast of more and more developments and be flexible in finding ways to make the best use of them, while not keeping our eyes shut to possible risks that may need to be addressed.