Fintech: Disruption or Reconfiguration? A Case Study of Copenhagen Fintech

Erik Christian Hasselbalch

Student thesis: Master thesis


Ten years have nearly passed since the financial crisis of 2008-2009 and financial sector incumbents are beginning to settle into a stable state. Since then, Fintech has become a buzzword that is increasingly difficult to miss. It is an acronym of financial technology and covers a wide range of novel innovations and companies within the financial sector, often referring to start-up companies within this space. Fintech has not gone unnoticed in Denmark, where digitisation and technology is an integral part of culture and society, and the financial sector represents a significant portion of Denmark’s GDP. Since 2015, policy-makers, incumbents and start-ups within the financial sector have made Fintech as a priority for innovation, and in September 2016 the Danish Financial Supervisory Authority launched Copenhagen Fintech to support the local Fintech ecosystem. The research question that forms the line of inquiry in this thesis explores how innovation clusters facilitate niche industries moving into the mainstream. Empirical analysis is done through a single case study on of the Danish Fintech cluster known as Copenhagen Fintech. To answer the research question, the thesis takes it point of departure in defining what Fintech is, how clusters and strategic niche management works, and why the multilevel perspective on technological transitions is an appropriate theoretical framework for the analysis. The theoretical framework as distinguished by Geels and Schot (2007) proposes five hypotheses of transition pathways for technological niches to enter the mainstream. The thesis reviews the spatial concentration of entrepreneurship and innovation surrounding Copenhagen Fintech and explores the five hypotheses of possible technology transition pathways. In conclusion, the thesis suggests the most likely future pathway for Copenhagen Fintech and its associated niche industries and attempts to address the impact Copenhagen Fintech may have on the Danish financial sector. 2 The findings of the analysis suggest that the most likely pathway to mainstreaming is the so-called ‘reconfiguration pathway’ in the Copenhagen Fintech ecosystem, due to the symbiotic relationship between Fintech firms and incumbents.

EducationsMSc in Management of Innovation and Business Development, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2018
Number of pages71
SupervisorsJing Chen