M1PC and Coderdojo initiative hoping to attract teenagers and particularly young women into financial technology

RTE news, 9 November 2019:

https://www.rte.ie/news/player/2019/1109/21653221-initiative-hoping-to-attract-teenagers-and-particularly-young-women-into-financial-technology/

On Saturday, 9th November, teenagers had an opportunity to see and hear how Drogheda students are taking a leading role in developing Fintech solutions as the local Fintech CoderDojo launched their new website www.Bepaysmart.org , alongside local innovators from the Makes Cents team and Phase Innovate Galtech. The launch took place at The Mill Enterprise Hub in Drogheda which is the lead organisation fostering the M1 Payments Corridor initiative to create a Fintech Cluster of companies from Dublin to Belfast, working alongside industry partners such as Paypal, Vesta Payments, and Yapstone.

CoderDojo aims to enable young people worldwide to create and explore technology together. The theme of this CoderDojo is Fintech and Digital as the crew of 12 to 17 years olds will work on projects relating to payments and fintech. According to Breanndán Casey, Innovation and Enterprise Manager at The Mill, “the projects will need participants with different skills including coding, project management, and digital communication. For example, it takes one set of skills to set up a website or app, and then it takes a very different set of skills to generate content (text, graphics, animation & video), and publicise the website or app. Our next session is here on Nevember 23rd and we’re looking for new members to join the free programme and are particularly interested in attracting new female members as it’s vital that more females enter the technology sector ”.

The three Drogheda teenagers behind the ‘Makes Cents’ prepaid card for eight to 18-year-olds which has seen over 3,000 accounts created since its inception last March also spoke on the morning. The card was created by three 16 years old students – Eva Barnett, Leah Keogh and Louisa Woods at Sacred Heart school Drogheda in partnership with Prepaid Financial Services (PFS) in Meath and won the National Student Enterprise Awards competition in 2018. The Makes Cents Prepaid cards allow Parents to monitor their Children’s expenses whilst also encouraging and teaching them to manage their money and has seen over €200,000 spend on them since its launch.

In addition to the Make Cents team, Evelyn Nomayo of Galtech Phase Innovate, accompanied by her team of Teenage Technologists and App Developers, gave an overview of the apps they have developed in 2019. “We inspire girls to develop interest and confidence in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) through hands-on activities, participation in local, national and international challenges, and positive female role models. Our goal is to reduce the gender gap in STEM fields by empowering girls to create innovative solutions to advance equality in their communities and to prepare them for tech careers. The GalTech programmes are delivered nation-wide as after school programmes through the help of mentors and Garda vetted volunteers”.

During the course of the event, attendees heard of the CoderDojo work completed to date and saw examples of successful technology projects completed by teenagers. Alan Donegan, a mentor at the Dojo commented  “Technology is a vital part in today’s society and this is an opportunity for teenagers to whet their appetite, explore new skills,  and develop the skills they already have in a fun and team environment. We look forward to seeing new members on November 23rd”.

M1 Payments Corridor is recruiting

The M1 Payments Corridor has an ambitious vision for the M1 region from Dublin to Belfast to become a very significant hotbed of innovation capitalising on the widespread opportunities created within the new eCommerce payments landscape as it converges with wider fintech.

In partnership with InterTrade Ireland, Louth County Council, and our member companies, we are delighted to announce an exciting opportunity for a Project Manager to lead and nurture our next phase of growth over the coming two years. The Programme Manager  will  fulfil the primary leadership role in the M1PC, with responsibility for the development and delivery of a programme to build an active & collaborative cross border network of payment companies resulting in new start-ups and job creation. The successful candidate will have track record in running similar programmes, have credible fintech, financial services or IT experience and demonstrate the ability to be a strong voice for the region in the payments and fintech space.

Please see attached detailed job specification – The deadline for receiving applications is Monday, December 9th.

Fintech CoderDojo – Open day & Launch of www.bepaysmart.org

TEENAGE TECHNOLOGY EVENT

The theme of the dojo is Fintech and Digital as we develop projects relating to payments and fintech. The project will need participants with different skills including coding, project management, and digital communication (graphics, video & social media). For example, it takes one set of skills to set up a website or app, and then it takes a very different set of skills to generate content (text, graphics, animation & video) and publicise (via social media) the website or app. This dojo is targeted at coders 12 years and older.

11:15am: Welcome / Work to date / Plans / M1 Payments Corridor

Breanndán Casey, Innovation & Enterprise Manager, The Mill Enterprise Hub

11:25: Fintech Coderdojo, Next Stage in Project, Seeking new members

Alan Donegan, Fintech CoderDojo mentor

11:30: Launch of www.Bepaysmart.org

CoderDojo Team – Why & how they build website. Benefits & fun of participating in Fintech CoderDojo

11:50: https://www.makescentscard.com– How & Why, Story to date, Learning curve, Next steps.

Irish teenagers signed up to a new prepaid card service have spent over €100,000 in the last six months in 14,000 online and in-store purchases. Three teenagers are behind the ‘Makes Cents’ card for eight to 18-year-olds, which has seen over 3,000 accounts created since its inception last March. The card was created by three 16 year old students at Sacred Heart school Drogheda in partnership with Prepaid Financial Services (PFS) in Meath

‘Makes Cents Prepaid Teen cards allow Parents to monitor their Children’s expenses whilst also encouraging and teaching them to manage their money. The Makes Cents Card can be used like any debit card’

Makes Cents Team – Eva Barnett, Leah Keogh and Louisa Woods

12:10: Phase Innovate, https://phaseinnovate.com/galtech.html – Teenage Technologists & App developers. Overview of Apps developed

‘We inspire girls to develop interest and confidence in STEM through hands-on activities, participation in local, national and international challenges, and positive female role models. Our goal is to reduce the gender gap in STEM fields by empowering girls to create innovative solutions to advance equality in their communities and to prepare them for tech careers. The GalTech programmes are delivered nation-wide as afterschool programmes through the help of mentors and Garda vetted volunteers. Our goal is to prepare them for local, national and international STEM competitions’

Evelyn Namayo and team

12:25: Q&A / Refreshments

1pm: Close

Book here to attend: https://www.eventbrite.ie/e/teenage-technology-tickets-79188975357

PSD2 – “Challenges and opportunities in Payment Services for SMEs”

Payment Service directive II is here…. meeting the challenge, seizing the opportunity

Tuesday, May 15th, 9:30 to 12:30pm The Mill Enterprise Hub, Drogheda

Agenda:

9:30am:  Coffee / Welcome/ Intros by attendees

M1 Payments Corridor –   The story to date, and future opportunities

9:50:  PSD2 implementation: What are the key changes under PSD2? How does PSD2 open up the industry to fintechs? Reflections from inside the UK regulator, Do regulators like innovation? (James Borley, fscom)

 

 

 

10:10:  PSD2 from FDI perspective (Richard Hanlon, SVP International Vesta Corporation)

 

 

 

 

Potential for greater interaction & collaboration with SMEs, Needs of FDI sector, particularly along M1 / NorthEast region.

10:30: PSD2 from Indigenous sector “Optimising User experience for Digital Banking” – (Niall Hogan, Product Manager TouchTech)

 

 

 

10:50: Panel Discussion based on 3 previous presentations: PSD2 Opportunities

11:15: Coffee

11:30: Breakout – Facilitated Session

Break into groups facilitated by the speakers to discuss potential collaboration, and how M1PC group could assist.

Open discussion on M1PC – How can it benefit indigenous companies / region? Widening of concept from pure ‘Payments’. How do we make it more relevant for indigenous companies? Do they support concept? What is our niche/USP and ensure we avoid duplication of current supports?

12:30: Summary of Workshop Results / Next Steps.

12:45 – Close / Light Lunch

Please contact Breanndán Casey, bcasey@themilldrogheda.ie, if you wish to attend the workshop.

Set up shop on the epayments map

The northeast is set to become a European centre for digital transactions — bringing hundreds of jobs with it

Mary Mitchell O’Connor, during her time as enterprise minister, visited Aphix, which is one of the key companies forming the M1 Payments Corridor
Mary Mitchell O’Connor, during her time as enterprise minister, visited Aphix, which is one of the key companies forming the M1 Payments Corridor

Jobseekers who have the right technical skills and are keen to work away from the capital should keep a close eye on developments in the northeast over the next few years.

If the M1 Payments Corridor, as the region comprising counties Louth, Cavan, Meath and Monaghan has been dubbed, takes off, then up to 600 highly skilled positions in the digital payments sector could open up within the next four years.

The region, which is home to Vesta, PayPal and State Street, was handed a jobs boost last month when the epayments company YapStone announced it would take on 200 new staff over the next five years.

YapStone started its Irish operation in 2012 with 10 employees in the Mill, Drogheda’s enterprise hub, and expanded quickly. This latest jobs news related to a €41m investment by YapStone, supported by IDA Ireland.

It was the first big announcement since the launch of the M1 Payments Corridor. Organisers hope it is just the beginning.

The region also has indigenous fintech companies including Aphix Software, Gecko Governance, Semper Security and Intact Software. Aphix employs 15 people at its base in the Mill, and announced this year it would be taking on another 25 before 2020 — most of them skilled developer roles. The company is already recruiting.

Breanndán Casey, the Mill’s business development manager, says the idea of a payments corridor in the northeast arose two years ago, with the recognition that getting towns in the area to co-operate rather than compete would reap greater rewards.

“In the past there was a lot of competition between, say, Navan, Drogheda, Dundalk and Cavan. We recognised that we could work together,” says Casey. “This is not about any one town, it’s a regional push.”

It soon became clear that the industry most likely to put the region on the map would be digital payments. One of the inspirations for the initiative was the so-called Transaction Alley, in the American state of Georgia.

“It’s a 60km zone around Atlanta and 70% of payments go through there — but it was once a small operation,” says Casey, who believes the northeast is well positioned to become an epayments hub.

“There are 1.8m people within 50km of Drogheda. We also have the M1 connecting us up to Belfast, which is strong on blockchain technology.”

Using Atlanta as a model, Casey and others hope the northeast will also become a centre for digital payments outside this country.

“We are not just focused on Ireland,” says Peter Rowan, Yapstone’s executive vice-president of international operations. “We have a multilingual centre here covering seven languages, and we have had no issues hiring multilingual employees within striking distance of Drogheda.”

To make the corridor work, collaboration between every player involved will be essential. Such help comes from the National Epayments Conference, which was first held two years ago and is an opportunity for stakeholders to find out about the future of digital payments in Ireland and abroad.

“The fintech sector is ripe for collaboration between smaller companies and larger, FDI companies,” Casey says.

The M1 Payments Corridor initiative has a strong steering group behind it, made up of representatives from Vesta, PayPal, State Street, Aphix, YapStone and Coca-Cola International Services. The group also includes representatives from the economic development agencies, as well as Dublin City University and Dundalk IT, who will provide R&D support to the industry in the region.

The need for an educational element is clear, because any new roles that come on stream will be highly skilled. The group has already organised specialist training programmes with IT Governance, a UK company. A fintech audit is being conducted in the region to assess skill sets and identify any gaps.

“That started three months ago. The results will give a strong indication of what skills are needed,” says Casey.

Drogheda Chamber has applied for funding from Skillnets, which, if successful, would involve a significant element of fintech training. “We want to move away from customer service to more technical skills,” says Casey.

The M1 Payments Corridor’s recent funding application to Skillnets was unsuccessful, but Casey is confident that the region will continue to build on its successes in the area of epayments.

One key attraction of the area for potential employees will be that they can avoid the expense and congestion of the capital, according to Casey. At present, 55% of YapStone staff live within 15 minutes of the office.

If everything goes to plan, employees here will be able to move between companies while staying in the same region and sector.

“It’s important that we get a range of companies in the region so people can move around. There needs to be a critical mass here,” says Casey.

The new roles at Aphix are in areas including customer success, software engineering and development. The company is recruiting for technology positions including software and app developers, says Mark Reilly, the company’s chief technical officer.

“Driving investment into the region is a key focus for us, providing a significant boost to employment and benefiting the local economy,” he says.

YapStone, which provides online and mobile payments products for companies including property sites HomeAway and VRBO, moved out of the Mill when it grew to 40 employees. Within two years that number increased to 126. Now the company is recruiting for the first of 200 more, to be hired before 2022.

With most of YapStone’s staff working in customer service roles, the company is looking for development engineers, lead software engineers and voice over internet protocol network architects.

Rowan is confident that the skills needed by his company are available in or around the region. “We did some research even before we announced the roles and, based on that, we believe the talent pool is here, which was part of the reason behind our decision,” he says.

The M1 Payments Corridor concept will bring together the players in the sector, according to Rowan.

“It’s about creating jobs and building R&D capacity. We’re trying to mirror the Atlanta payments corridor — this could be the European international payments corridor,” he says.

Payments firm YapStone to create 200 jobs in Drogheda by 2023

Payments company YapStone has announced plans to almost triple its workforce over the next five years, through the addition of 200 positions at its Drogheda offices.

The new roles will be created as part of a €41m investment by the Silicon Valley-headquartered firm, which is being supported by IDA Ireland.

YapStone offers online and mobile payments products to a range of companies worldwide, including property sharing sites HomeAway and VRBO.

It established its international offices in Drogheda, Co Louth in 2012 where it currently employs 125 people.

Today, the firm announced plans to add more than 200 engineering and technology positions between 2018 and 2023 in order to cater to its rapid expansion.

“We have hired tremendous talent in Ireland, and they have played a major role in YapStone’s success and international expansion,” said YapStone co-founder and CEO Tom Villante, Co-Founder and CEO of YapStone. “It was a natural decision for us to expand our investment in Irish talent into technology.”

IDA Ireland CEO Martin Shanahan described the move as a “significant expansion” for YapStone and Drogheda and said it would serve as an “excellent reference site for IDA in marketing this key regional location”.

Tánaiste and Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Frances Fitzgerald said the announcement would be “a great boost for the town” which tallied with the Government’s desire to drive “job creation in locations which are away from the bigger cities”.

https://www.rte.ie/news/business/2017/1116/920584-yapstone-drogheda-jobs/ 

Cybersecurity, Risk and Cryptocurrencies

Bitcoin recently surged past $7,000 to hit a new record high. Why exactly are bitcoins and other cryptocurrencies onthe rise? How secure are they?

It has been a year of unprecedented growth for the largely unregulated market, with dozens of new currencies appearing every month in “Initial Coin Offerings” or ICOs. There have been at least three dozen heists of cryptocurrency exchanges since 2011. More than 980,000 bitcoins have been stolen, which today would be worth about $4bn.

Refresh Boyne and the M1 Payments Corridor are delighted to welcome Jack Nagle to discuss the growth of cryptocurrencies, explain what exactly they are, and look at some of the potential security issues.

This will be an opportunity for informed debate on the merits and risks of cryptocurrency, and some prediction on it’ future.

 

Jack Nagle is Head of Business Development at DCU’s Irish Centre for Cloud Computing and Commerce (IC4). A thirty year veteran of the IT Industry, with over 20 years in the area of Security and Compliance in a career that has spanned start-ups, consulting for the European Commission, implementation of major international projects, and positions with companies as varied as Baltimore Technologies, Cybertrust, McAfee and Verizon.

Venue: The Mill Enterprise Hub, Drogheda, Louth

Date: Wednesday, November 22nd

Time: 19:00 – 21:00

Ticketshttps://cryptocurrencyandrisk.eventbrite.ie

Refreshments kindly sponsored by Amphenol TCS

Refresh Boyne is a community of designers and developers working to refresh the creative, technical, and professional culture of the New Media industry in the Boyne region. Refresh Boyne hold events that promote design, technology, usability and standards and is part of, and inspired, by the Refreshing Cities movement.

Recognition of northeast as e-payments cluster could create 600 jobs

Some 600 jobs could be created if the area surrounding Dundalk and Drogheda if the area is recognised as a cluster for e-payments companies, says a local industry group.

According to M1 Payments Corridor, the indigenous jobs could be created by 2021 if their bid to build the northeast into an internationally recognised cluster is successful.

With that goal in mind, the group has applied for €4 million in funding from Enterprise Ireland to help develop the brand and win out over other counties with established e-payment companies including Cork and Kerry.

Areas around Dundalk and Drogheda have attracted multinational payments companies in the past number of years including PayPal, State Street and Coca-Cola International Services. Following this, an enterprise hub in Drogheda saw an opportunity to brand the north-east as a digital payments zone.

“We examined three or four different sectors and the payments one jumped out,” said Breanndán Casey, business development manager at The Mill – Drogheda’s enterprise hub.

“In the past Drogheda and Dundalk would have been competing with each other, but now there’s a recognition that they need to work together,” he said.

The Mill, itself established only three years ago, “was recognition that we needed somewhere to help start-ups and develop businesses”, according to Mr Casey.

Collaboration

Government agency grants and philanthropic donations from companies operating in the region led to the foundation of The Mill. The hub has been successful in its mission to incubate companies with one such enterprise, Yapstone, now employing over 130 people in Drogheda having started in The Mill with 10 employees.

Another company hoping to “graduate” from The Mill next year is fintech start up Aphix Software. Graham O’Rourke, the company’s chief executive, said The Mill was “formative” in building his company and that without the M1 Payments Corridor, Aphix’s growth would have been slower.

“There’s no way without collaboration from the M1 Payments Corridor that we would have got Enterprise Ireland support,” he said.

“There were other fintech companies in the region that we partnered with early on and that gave us access to their UK customer base which helped us grow a lot faster.”

Mr O’Rourke’s software company currently employs 15 people based out of The Mill.

In addition to creating new jobs in the northeast, the M1 Payments Corridor hopes to use any funding to grow pre-incubator programmes, training programmes and collaboration opportunities between small and medium enterprises and multinationals that have invested in Ireland.

Source: Irish Times https://www.irishtimes.com/business/financial-services/recognition-of-northeast-as-e-payments-cluster-could-create-600-jobs-group-1.3249499

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