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Trilateral Research and Ireland South East Financial Services Cluster Launch Workshops to Tackle the Challenges of Digitalisation in the Open-Finance Era

Over the last three weeks, Trilateral Research, in collaboration with the Ireland South East Financial Services Cluster, hosted a series of workshops to foster collaboration and discuss user needs and requirements in the financial services sector. 

The workshops were organised within the framework of SOTER, an EU funded project developing new technologies and a cybersecurity awareness training programme to prevent cybercrime risks in the financial sector.

“It is especially important for Trilateral Research that we link research outputs to industry needs and experience. In the SOTER project, understanding industry pain points will enable us to prioritise innovations that meet a clear need within the Financial Services sector. The workshops with the Ireland South East Financial Services Cluster have been really valuable for creating these links and supporting innovation within the project”, said Rachel Finn, Head of Irish Operations at Trilateral Research.

The workshop series attended by the cluster network and invited guests kicked off on 24th November, followed by weekly sessions up to 8th December 2020. The workshops stimulated an exchange of ideas, knowledge and expertise, and focused on different areas:

  • User-needs, requirements, and pain points in FinTech as we enter the open-finance era
  • The evolving cybersecurity landscape in the era of digitalisation
  • The emerging interplay of regulatory frameworks in FinTech such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the Payments Services Derivative 2 (PSD2) and the 5th Anti-Money Laundering Directive (AML5D)

Igniting the first session was guest speaker Ifor Ffowcs-Williams, a global practitioner in cluster-based economic development, with extensive expertise in the practicalities of cluster development, leading training and strategy workshops with economic development agencies, cluster groups and support organisations. His thought-provoking insights into how the cluster project engine room can leverage engagement internationally partnering with other clusters set the workshop on the right track.

Trilateral Research’s Robin Renwick then outlined the overarching vision of the SOTER project, a consortium of eight European organisations, tasked by the European Commission to design and develop a biometric identification and authentication onboarding platform for the emerging open-banking ecosystem insights, followed by a short poll and discussion on Digital Identity, Anti-Money Laundering and future revenue streams open to all to participate. 

Miguel Ponce de Leon, Chief Technologist at TSSG, cluster community participant, who on day one offered the group a synopsis of the Research and Development grants and supports available to businesses, stated that "the heartbeat of any cluster is active engagement and the recent 2020 workshop series of 3 sessions has been a great forum for sharing insights from across the globe, while also further advancing the goals for the cluster in the context of its impact in Ireland South East".

For the second workshop, we were joined by Technologist and AI expert Dr Nicola Stokes of the IDA Ireland and Martin Griesbacher, Coordinator of the research network “Human Factor in Digital Transformation” at the University of Graz and human factor cybersecurity expert at Research Industrial Systems Engineering (RISE), Vienna. 

While Nicola presented Ireland’s value proposition in cybersecurity, Martin provided an insight into the interdisciplinary research on cybersecurity in the SOTER project, addressing a series of steps for improving human factor-related cybersecurity in organisations, including training actions for employees and the management level of organisations in the financial sector.

Facilitated by Rachel Finn, Head of Irish Operations at Trilateral Research, the final session was joined by Anne Rothwell, a 25-year veteran of Governance, Risk and Compliance roles within the financial services sector in Ireland, and Nora Schreier from SOTER, a PhD-Student at the Department of Tax and Fiscal Law at the University of Graz

Nora’s insightful presentation focused on the emerging interplay of regulatory frameworks in FinTech, including the GDPR, PSD2 and AML5D, while Anne put the spotlight on the ongoing changes in regulatory compliance and navigation routes for FinTechs, stressing the benefits of peer-to-peer exchanges and how this network supports the navigation of these regulatory challenges.

Cluster network workshop participant Rob Leslie, CEO & Founder of Sedicii, stated that “SOTER is shining a very bright light on a subject that everyone should care deeply about – how the use of your personal data can affect your privacy. The workshops provided an opportunity for members of the business community to hear from the experts about advances in technology and improve their overall understanding around the impact of GDPR so that they can service their customers better while still complying with the law. They were very useful indeed.”  

Cluster Manager, Catriona Murphy shared “Clusters have complex and contingent origins and can take time to take root, the strong cohort of financial services and growing FinTech companies in Ireland South East provided the ideal ignition platform. Individual companies cannot establish clusters on their own, and historically governments across the world have tried and failed to conjure effective clusters from nothing. Therefore, by establishing this Financial Services Cluster together involving all stakeholders of the cluster community we can prove the value by representing a defensible advantage in a competitive, globalising world. With thanks to Trilateral Research and the SOTER project, this workshop series provided our cluster community the opportunity to knowledge share and learn how we might all engage more fundamentally together while also feeding into this European Commission Horizon 2020 project. As a result of this series, Trilateral Research has captured valuable insights from the Ireland South East Financial Services Cluster community and, as a cluster, we have identified a potential skills project to develop.”


SOTER is a H2020 project which aims to improve cybersecurity practices within the financial sector, taking a holistic research approach, combining technological development with human factor-based cybersecurity training.

The project is developing a biometric-based identification and authentication digital onboarding platform designed to enhance information securitydata privacy, and cybersecurity practice, coupled with a sector-specific training programme to raise awareness about the importance of cybersecurity for employees in the financial sector.

SOTER’s solution brings together

  • customer multi-factor authentication 
  • recognition technologies of the clients’ regularly used devices to avoid fraud
  • blockchain technologies to ensure immutability and data integrity while allowing integrability 
  • a suite of cybersecurity training materials for employees 


Contact details:

Ana Gonzalez Segura 

SOTER Project Coordinator





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<p>Description automatically generatedThis project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 833923.


About Trilateral Research

Trilateral's work focuses on delivering sustainable innovation, both developing new technologies and assessing their impact, including analysing their ethical, legal and social implications.

We apply research to make society a better place, for example by developing cloud solutions and machine learning algorithms to support data-driven decision making around complex societal challenges. Read more about our work here: www.trilateralresearch.com


Contact details:

Angelo Napolano

Head of Communications and Marketing

Trilateral Research




About Ireland South East Financial Services Cluster

Ireland South East Financial Services Cluster is an enterprise led cluster initiative funded by five local authority in the region: Carlow, Kilkenny, Tipperary, Waterford and Wexford. 

The region has built a strong cohort of shared services operations, a sizeable portfolio of international financial services companies and has strong activity in the growth sectors of Fintech/Regtech/Insurtech and the global payments sector.

We welcome you to connect and bond with our financial service community. Leaders here are engaging with peers, bounce ideas, sourcing solutions, tips and hints, receiving and providing mentorship. Essentially growing together and bridging the financial service community-based in Ireland South East with a global network. 

Ireland South East Financial Services Cluster has identified 5 pillars of its work programme which aim to support the growth of financial services companies in the region. These are:

Pillar 1: Skills – ensuring education and training providers are aligned with industry needs

Pillar 2: Marketing and Branding – promoting the region's attractiveness for professionals and investors

Pillar 3: Networking – enhancing the opportunities for companies in the region to network

Pillar 4: Innovation – linking companies with emerging research and start-up innovation

Pillar 5: Infrastructure – to address priority infrastructure barriers impeding company growth


Contact details:

Catriona Murphy 

Cluster Manager

Ireland South East Financial Services Cluster