Economic Activities

Financial Technology in Spain: a brief overview

By | Economic Activities
Vivian Hendrikse
Financial Technology, known as ‘FinTech’, is the term used to describe financial services by the means of software and modern technology. Even though the term FinTech has raised global awareness only in recent years, FinTech initiatives arose many years before it had been created. One of the first financial technologies, for example, is one we otherwise know very well as the ATM machine. The fact that we only now know and use the word FinTech to describe modern, ATM-like innovations is caused by a large movement in the past decade that includes the development of an extremely high number of FinTech initiatives worldwide. Think of payments via your smartphone, or generally transferring money online; it is all possible because financial technology. Think of cryptocurrencies and the Blockchain; all included in FinTech. It is therefore not surprising that banks and other large financial institutions depend on FinTech initiatives and cooperate with them in order to improve their financial services. Many of these organizations provide incubator programs or startup boost-camps to help FinTech companies grow.
When investing in the FinTech sector, it is thus of importance to recognize the FinTech landscape in the country of interest. Spain has seen a tremendous rise in the number of FinTechs in the past years. Early 2013, merely 50 FinTech startups were located in Spain. Within five years, this number has grown to over 300 FinTech firms registered in Spain, creating a market in which Spanish FinTechs raised over 120 million dollars across 19 deals in 2017, an impressive 10x increase in comparison to raised capital in the year before (12 million in 2016), see graph below.

FinTech investment in Spain (USD, number of deals). 2014-2017

Source: FinTech Global
When taking a closer look at the kind of FinTech initiatives that exist in Spain, the ‘FinTech News’ provided an overview of the segments that concentrate most activity, innovation and dynamism in Spain in the field of FinTech. The division is as follows: Payments & Remittances is the largest FinTech segment (24%), followed by Lending (19%), after which Enterprise Financial Management (11%), Crowdfunding (10%), Personal Finance Management (10%) and Insurance (8%) complete the overview.
Next to FinTech initiatives, Spain is one of the leading countries when it comes to FinTech usage, according to the EY FinTech Adoption Index of 2017. Over 37% of the internet users in Spain has used financial technology services at least once – mainly for managing their finances, purchasing products online, or making transfers via mobile apps. What is more, as this development has grown every year and the largest user-group consists of millennials, the usage of FinTech in Spain is only expected to further increase.
Since more than 90% of the FinTech initiatives in Spain are brought to the market by startups, it is of interest to assess the startup environment when considering investing. Several organizations have been created to connect FinTechs in Spain in order to provide transfer of knowledge and know-how. These include FinTech Spain and the Spain FinTech Hub. Furthermore, both organizations connect FinTechs to many accelerators and incubator programs, both in Spain and in Europe, which all in all provides for plenty of options for Spanish FinTechs to grow and excel.
All in all, the FinTech ecosystem in Spain thus fosters many opportunities and an interesting future perspective.

About the author:

Vivian has completed both her bachelor’s degree in International Business Administration and her master’s degree in Finance and Investments at the Rotterdam School of Management. While obtaining experience in investment banking and FinTech, she developed a strong interest in innovations in the financial world and sustainability. With her international work experiences, Vivian is able to recognize trends in Europe and Asia in both sectors and translate these into progressive business strategies.


Ani Miteva (2018, March 22) The Spanish FinTech landscape in 2018. Available online (link) [Last access: 28.07.2018]
Ernst & Young (2018) EY FinTech Adoption Index 2017. Available online (link) [Last access: 28.07.2018]
FinTech Global (2018, January 23) Investment in Spanish FinTech companies surged in 2017, despite a slowdown in deal activity. Available online (link) [Last access: 28.07.2018]
FinTech News (2017, February 19) Fintech Radar Spain: Spain quadruples its Fintech sector in three years. Available online (link) [Last access: 28.07.2018]
FinTech Weekly. FinTech Definition. Available online (link) [Last access: 28.07.2018]

Overview of the pharmaceutical expenditure in the public sector

By | Economic Activities

Farmaindustria, the Spanish association of pharmaceutical industries, has recently published an analysis showing that the Spanish public pharmaceutical expenditure has decreased without sacrificing innovation. The latest data shows that, although the public healthcare sector is not spending as much on pharmaceuticals as in 2010, innovative medicines still reach the patients. Pharmaceutical expenditure represented a 1.43% of the GDP in 2017, lower than the 1.57% of 2010. This is possible thanks to the price pressure after a patent expires and generics appear in the market, this is known as reference pricing. Currently, 8 out of 10 pharmaceuticals consumed are generics and they represent 55% of the Spanish pharmaceuticals market. Furthermore, the pharmaceutical industry has a low success rate, with only 11.8% of the compounds reaching the market and being approved by the healthcare authorities.

Figure 1. Total pharmaceutical expenditure over the years (2010-2017)


Source: adapted from graphic from Farmaindustria

At the same time, the Spanish Ministry of Health (Ministerio de Sanidad Servicios Sociales e Igualdad) has published the 2016 Report on Public Healthcare Expenditure (Estadística de Gasto Sanitario Público). In this report, the analysis is done at country level and autonomically. The public healthcare expenditure is based on the analysis of the final amount of service requested, including data from all the different healthcare institutions that either provide healthcare or finance it. This report represents the basis for the Health System Accounts (Sistema de Cuentas de Salud) report that follows the A System of Health Accounts manual published by the OECD in the year 2000.
The Report on Public Healthcare Expenditure shows that from 2012 to 2016 the percentage of the GDP on public healthcare expenditure has been around 6%, reaching €66.7 million in 2016. The remuneration of healthcare professionals in the sector represented a total of 44,5% of the expenditure in 2016, summing up to €29.7 million. In 2016, pharmaceutical expenditure was of €10.9 million and medical devices and transfers €1.2 million.
Among the different autonomous communities, the ones with the highest percentage of the GDP expenditure on public healthcare were Extremadura (9.4%), Asturias (7.6%), and Murcia (7.5%). However, the Basque Country and Asturias were the ones that spent the most per civilian with €1,669 and €1,577, respectively. In 2016, Catalonia, Andalusia, and Madrid represented the 44.2% of the total public health expenditure, it has to be noted that they are also the three most populated autonomous communities. Moreover, Catalonia and Madrid also gather most of the hospitals that offer highly specialized services for the rest of the country.

Figure 2. Percentage of the Regional Domestic Gross invested in healthcare expenditure. 2016

Source: adapted from the Ministry of Health data on regional expenditure


– El gasto farmacéutico público en España sigue por debajo del nivel de 2010 pese a la incorporación de innovaciones, Farmaindustria, May 2018 (Link)
– Estadística de Gasto Sanitario Público 2016, Ministerio de Sanidad Servicios Sociales e Igualdad, March 2018 (Link)
Digital Health

Digital health in Spain, an open opportunity

By | Economic Activities

Digital solutions are slowly becoming more relevant in our life. We now rely on applications for tasks such as performing the income statement or even birth control. Citizens are also slowly becoming more conscious about their health status and monitor their health and fitness using wearables and applications. With an eager market for digital solutions and healthcare systems becoming overwhelmed due to a lack of doctors and nurses, digital solutions are tapping into the healthcare sector with new applications popping out every day.

In the “2018 Consumer Survey on Digital Health” survey performed by Accenture, 41% of the Spanish populations uses a health application in their mobile phones or tablets. With an increasing demand for digital solutions, the healthcare market is changing in Spain.
The study included 957 participants, 40% use intelligent scales and 21% has had access to their electronic health record during the last year. Only 6% has used some kind of artificial intelligence (AI) service but, 63% of the participants are willing to use AI in the future. The most popular digital services are home-based services like blood tests, digital healthcare professionals, and digital nurses that monitor health status.
Remote healthcare consulting is also well received with 73% in favour of remote consultation since it adapts to their lifestyle, and 56% of the participants believing that it also helps reducing patient costs. Highly successful remote consulting services like the Swedish application Kry, marketed as VIDA in Spain, are entering the Spanish market. Kry is a video-based healthcare provider that allows patients to have a video calls with a doctor. In Sweden, this type of applications are changing the way healthcare is provided, and now the question is how they will affect the Spanish healthcare system.
Spanish public institutions like TIC Salut Social Foundation (TICSS), an organisation that operates in the region of Catalonia, encourage the use of digital health. Approved in 2015, the Pla de Mobilitatmhealth. cat includes AppSalut marketplace which is managed by TICSS. The AppSalut marketplace includes a catalogue of health and social care applications, all these applications have been reviewed and accredited by TICSS in order to ensure the reliability of the products. TICSS recently published the results of their pilot project on the prescription of health applications in primary care. The conclusion was that although there are still some aspects that need improvement, like patient commitment or correct use of the app, face-to-face support showed to be essential for a successful transition to a more digital healthcare model.
As TICSS representative mentioned, digital health is “Easy to get, easy to use and insanely cheap”. With a market thirsty for innovation, which one will be the next big app?


Accenture (2018) Consumer Survey on Digital Health. Available online (link)
Karl-Johan Byttner (218) How a 29-year old former hypochondriac built Sweden’s most successful medtech startup. Business Insider. Available online (link)
TICSS – Generalitat de Catalunya. AppSalut marketplace (link)
Lopez Segui et al. (2018) The Prescription of Mobile Apps by Primary Care Teams: A Pilot Project in Catalonia. JMIR Mhealth Uhealth. Available online (link)

Tourism in Spain: a classic destination, yet increasingly popular

By | Economic Activities
Tourism is one of the most important sectors in the world economy, and particularly in the Spanish economy. In Spain, tourism accounted for 11.1% of the GDP in 2016 and the country was ranked third in the world in terms of income from international tourism. Undoubtedly, the tourism sector is one of the main drivers of growth in Spain, not only in economic terms but also for the labour market and social development.
The latest OECD report Tourism Trends and Policies 2018, as well as the last survey from the Spanish Statistical Office (Instituto Nacional de Estadística) entitled Resident Tourism Survey provide an in-depth analysis of the impact that this sector has on the economies of different countries. Here we will have a look at this sector in Spain focussing on two different aspects: international tourism that Spain receives and travel trends of the Spaniards themselves.

International Tourism in Spain

According to data from the Spanish Statistical Office, 75.3 million international tourists visited Spain in 2016: 10.3% more than the previous year. This was accompanied by a total expenditure of 77.625 million euros (an increase of 9.0% compared to the previous year). In 2017 the preferred destinations for tourists within Spain were the following: Catalonia (23.23%), Canary Islands (17.36%), Balearic Islands (16.87%), Andalusia (14.06%), Valencian Community (10.88%), and the Community of Madrid (8.19%). The last two regions have had the most remarkable annual increase in tourism of all the regions: 15.3% and 15.8% respectively. This could be an indication that tourists are exploring more than just the beaches that Spain has to offer.
Spain Tourism-OCDE-Blog Dos AguasSource: Dos Aguas Consulting
The visitors that Spain receives each year come mostly from the following countries or regions: United Kingdom, France, Germany, the nordic countries and Italy. These data are supported by the OECD and the Spanish Statistical Office.
Tourism in Spain-Dos Aguas BlogSource: Dos Aguas Consulting
In 2017, 81.8 million tourists arrived in Spain. Furthermore, 4.7 million people travelled for business and professional reasons, which was slightly more than in 2016. The duration of stay of foreign visitors in Spain was mostly between four and seven nights (38 million tourists). As for the organization of the trip, we see a general decrease of tourists that choose to book an organized stay such as through a travel agency or a tourist package.

Domestic Tourism

According to the Spanish Statistical Office, Spaniards mainly make domestic trips (and who can blame them!?). Of the 132 million trips made by Spanish residents in 2016, only 8.6% were abroad.
In 2017 the most visited domestic destination by Spanish residents was Andalusia, which accounted for 16.8% of total trips, followed by Catalonia (13%), and Valencian Community (9.6%).
To sum up, Spain is a country that mostly receives tourists, reinforcing its position by a very high rate of domestic tourism. The reception of tourists continues to grow year after year, registering a growth of 17.7% in the period from 2012 to 2016. In short, the tourism industry is a strong sector with a very positive effect on the Spanish economy.


  1. OCDE (2018) OECD Tourism Trends and Policies 2018, OECD Publishing, Paris. Available online (link) [Last accessed: 23.11.2018] 
  2. Instituto Nacional de Estadística (2017) España en cifras 2017. Available online (link) [Last accessed: 23.11.2018]  
  3. Instituto Nacional de Estadística (1 de febrero de 2018) Estadística de Movimientos Turísticos en Fronteras (FRONTUR). Diciembre 2017 y año 2017,Press release. Available online (link) [Last accessed: 23.11.2018]
  4. Instituto Nacional de Estadística (19 de abril de 2018) Encuesta de Turismo de Residentes (ETR/FAMILITUR) Cuarto trimestre de 2017 y año 2017, Press release. Available online (link) [Last accessed: 23.11.2018]