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US: Is New York the hottest VC room for FinTech startups? – Part 1

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In the context of the Fintech Road Trip, the Techfoliance Team met some of the main Fintech actors and investment firms involved in the sector.

Nathan Sexer, our US reporter and Fintech Analyst, is analyzing the state of the FinTech industry in New York thanks to interviews he runned with some of the top local fintech players.

In this serie of articles, we will provide you with a quick overview of the New York Fintech scene and introduce you some investment funds and FinTech start-ups that are part of the ecosystem.

New York FinTech Market Overview

During the first quarter of 2016, Fintech Investments have been more important in NYC than in the Silicon Valley for the first time ever, and New York has been the most active city in term of Fintech investments in the world during the first quarter of 2016.

A Road trip Across The FinTech World - New York
A Road trip Across The FinTech World – New York

Number of deals exploded in one year: from around $200M investment in 15 deals during the first quarter of 2015, it went to more than $800M in 32 deals during the first quarter of 2016, in New York only.

Investment firms like Aquiline actively participated in making NYC the place to be in terms of Fintech Investments, and many reasons support the numbers previously mentioned.

New York has been considered for a long time as the world’s financial center for the Banking and Credit sector, securities, insurance, management, and obviously, the Fintech ecosystem is benefiting from it.

Conditions are united for Fintech companies and investment funds to flourish: this is Wall Street, host of the two largest stock exchanges (NYSE and NASDAQ) and every main bank.

In opposition with the west coast, NYC has the banks and institutions, whereas the Silicon Valley has the technology and GAFA.

As stated by Geoffrey O. Kalish,

“New York is a source of B2B Fintechs and innovative financial solutions whereas the Silicon Valley is more focused on B2C”.

According to him:

“Fintech revolution only happens in the consumer world. In the Business world, it is about evolution, not revolution”

So it makes perfect sense for investment funds like Aquiline to be in the Big Apple, hottest place for B2B Fintech startups worldwide.

#Brexit – How people and financial passport(ing) impact a FinTech eco-system

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In an age of on-demand information, 48 hours seams like a long time to understand the (un)intended consequences of Brexit on FinTech. Whilst Friday, 24 June created a series of reactions, the weekend is giving way to deeper analysis. 

A few have already started that analytical work (see Chris Gledhill here and Pascal Bouvier here, while Huy Nguyen already talked about the Impact of Sudden FX changes for FinTech Start-ups here). Instead I’ll be focusing on two aspects of Europe’s single market: people and regulation.

At its core, the European Union is built on 4 key pillars, these are the free movement of: (1) Goods, (2) People, (3) Services and (4) Capital. In the context of Financial Technology it is easy to see how 2, 3 and 4 are immediately affected. However, the question becomes how and in what order? If so what citi(es) will benefit from this shift? To me

Whilst the regulatory impact of Brexit is obvious, its materialization will take time. Instead, the foreseeable and immediate damage to the UK’s FinTech eco-system will be more about people’s passports than the financial passporting regime.

Regulation: Reading the Fine Print 

Currently, it is not clear when Article 50 (setting the procedure to leave the EU) will be invoked by the UK Parliament (because the parliament is sovereign and not the people – more about the difference between democracy and republic). Yet, EU officials are calling for an immediate triggering of the procedure. 

When article 50 will be engaged, this will impact all of the above 4 pillars. For example, the limitation on financial services passporting regime will directly affect the scalability (e.g. speed, cost, geographies) of UK-headquartered start-ups. In the context of challenger banks, this raises the question as to whether  a German-based Fidor will be better prepared than a UK-based Atom? Or what about a starling bank which has actively been planing its business model around Europe’s Payment System Directive 2? Instinctively, I forecast that start-ups based on the Old Continent will have a competitive advantage in accessing the 500 million consumers in the European Economic Area.

Yet, it is not all negative in terms of regulations. The often discussed FCA regulatory sandbox is a great demonstration of pro-active regulation. However, its scope of application has limitations dictated by EU laws (e.g. exclusion of credit institutions, insurance or alternative fund managers as well as base line regulatory capital for some activities irrespective of portfolio/market size). Furthermore, if we agree that building a digital bank is so “2016” and instead data banks will be the future, then the start-ups subject to recent EU data privacy directive might be at a disadvantage (e.g. let’s see if UK start-ups handling EU resident data will still be caught by the obligations or not).

Additionally, I would also say that the uncertainty created in the markets and the upcoming wave of (re)regulations (at the very least 15% of UK laws are affected by EU directives/regulations) will give further rationale for the development of Regulatory Technology (RegTech). Indeed, a European market harmonization push, such as a the Single Rule Book (created in 2009 as a response to the 2007 crisis and aiming to solve the risks of fragmented market supervision) has favored the move towards single compliance and reporting standards for better prudential supervision. The full implementation of that vision is still years away since what we understand as Europe is mapping into a complex web of sub-groups, each with specific rights and obligations (e.g EEA, Schengen, EFTA)

Therefore, regulatory talks are both necessary and nice, but most likely won’t impact FinTech companies on either side of the (new) EU borders (E&Y issued a good paper on that). This holds true for at least for another 2 year during which EU law still applies and the terms of UK’s exit are being negotiated.

Humans: Still Behind the Tech and Business Cases (*until AI takes over :D)

Instead, as said at the start, it is the human capital cost that will have the greatest short-term impact on the UK’s FinTech eco-system.  Directive 2004/38/EC lays down the rights of EU citizens and their family members to move and reside freely within the territory of the Member States. This was a critical, and often overlooked, factor that turned London into a global FinTech hub.

Once we accept that the 2007 crisis represented a turning point in the development of a new era for FinTech (FinTech 3.0), we need to look at the social cost the financial crisis had on the workforce. The high unemployment rates around Europe have pushed educated and talented individuals to fuel the growth of the start-up eco-system in London. Indeed, a core part of the Brexit debate centered around immigration and the actual cost to the UK economy (hint: immigration was positive for UK growth).

In the context of FinTech, this is key because the development of this industry requires talented individuals. A recent UCL study showed that the average European migrant in Britain was not a low wage worker, but a “young, single French or Spanish graduate working in the financial, technology or media industries”. The question therefore becomes:

Would a Transferwise have ever existed was it not for the free movement of people that made its founders realize the inefficiency of sending money back to Estonia as he lived in London?

Whilst I can’t be assertive about Transferwise’s path to unicorn in a pre-Brexit world, I can comment on my own journey.

Was it not for the European Union I would not have been able to benefit from the similar treatment (e.g. home university fees and access to government loans) in accessing the UK higher education system that came with my EU status. The start of my professional career would also have been different as it is unlikely that I would have been the first hire of a challenger bank if the CEO had to go through a cumbersome visa application procedure. I would not have met my mentor Huy and I would not have started the FinTech Book with Susanne Chishti.

I am therefore a direct beneficiary of the EU’s second pillar: free movement of people, and thankful for it as it built me as a person. To me, Brexit was not just a message targeted to the political class and its need for renewal, but also to the EU migrants living in the UK. Would I feel comfortable to stay in London and, if not, which FinTech Hub would I go to instead?

The student in me would have looked at Scotland, strongly pro-European with a free higher education system and UK’s second largest financial center. The entrepreneur in me might have considered to relocate our staff to Dublin, given its similar cultural similarity and tax environment, or Berlin as a result of its low cost of living and large tech talent pool. My family roots might keep me near Paris as it is about to open the world’s largest tech incubator.

Would I have gone to emerging markets as far as Asia or the Middle East to relocate? Perhaps not (immediately) as the cultural, regulatory and competitive landscape wouldn’t have allowed for a quick pivot of a pre-existing company (with its staff, regulations etc).

The bottom line is that Brexit’s impact (actual or perceived) on people is preceding the impact on financial services by a large margin. Banks are already relocating their staff as a result of the decision and the potential impact on passporting.

Also let’s remember that billion dollar companies have, among other things, ethnic diversity as a common denominator; that Silicon Valley is a self-selected city of migrants that are entrepreneurial.

As the number of new educational courses on FinTech grows, we finally realize that FinTech is as much about the Human Capital powering it, as the financial capital fueling it.

Therefore, the short- and long-term damage Brexit is doing to the UK’s FinTech eco-system is more about people’s passports than the financial passporting regime.

Let me know, by leaving comments below, how you perceive the Brexit and its impact on #FinTech.

#CuriosiTech – Discover the 4 Fintechs of the week : Finrise, TerraPay, BanQu and Enigma

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CuriosiTech, best fintech of the week_finrise terrapay banqu enigma

Every week, Techfoliance reveals the most promising Fintechs in the world that will revolutionize the way we pay, invest or manage our money. In this week’s FinTech mapping we have : Finrise, TerraPay, BanQu and Enigma.

Finrise

Techfoliance_finrise_best fintech of the week

Finrise is a US-based FinTech that develops a payment solutions to simplify the way patients pay for healthcare. The mobile app is secure and allows people to pay in flexible terms. It offers 3 products : veterinary, dental and audiology.

To be discovered : https://finrise.com/

TerraPay

Techfoliance_terrapay_best fintech of the week

TerraPay is an Amsterdam-based FinTech that provides a global mobile-first payments service that allows anyone, anywhere, to send money to a mobile number instantly. The start-up interconnects financial services providers to create a “one network” for secure and seamless transnational movement of funds.

To be discovered : http://terrapay.com/

BanQu

Techfoliance_banqu_best fintech of the week

BanqQu is a US-based FinTech that develops a universal platform to provide the 2.5 billion unbanked people with an economic identity in terms of credit history, property rights, assets, aid-data etc. The technology is working with the Somali diaspora and soon with other countries such as Ethiopia or Mexico.

To be discovered: http://www.banquapp.com/

Enigma

Enigma is a New York based FinTech that develops powerful tools to analyze huge volume of data, whether it is private or public data. The start-up already raised more than 34 million dollars since it was created in 2011.

To be discovered : http://enigma.io/

#Education – A must see video to understand the concept of Blockchain

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Standard Chartered, in partnership with the video marketing company Chronos Video, explain the very basics of Blockchain in less than 3 minutes. 

It is a MUST SEE video if you are still wondering what hides behind the concept of Blockchain :

We’ve heard a lot about Blockchain over the past months with a lot of money being raised or invested in it. In the Q1 2016, the investment made in Blockchain increased by +385% according to a recent report published by the VC fund SparkLabs Global Ventures.

More and more people and companies are betting on this new technology to be part of the game. And some people are going further and say that it will be the next most important disruption we will know after the creation of internet.


About Standard Chartered

Standard Chartered is a leading international bank, with more than a 150-year history in some of the world’s most dynamic markets. It banks the people and companies driving investment, trade and the creation of wealth across Asia, Africa and the Middle East. It has 1,600 branches and offices in 71 countries.

To know more about Chronos Video, please follow this link : https://www.sc.com/en/.

About Chronos Video

Chronos Video is a video marketing company that helps its clients attract the attention of qualified, high-quality customers and then deliver their best possible pitch in a form of a short animated video. The company is working with worldwide FinTechs such as Betterment, Wealthfront or Xero.

To know more about Chronos Video, please follow this link : http://chronosvideo.com/.

#CuriosiTech – Discover the 4 Fintechs of the week : Trunomi, MyCheck, Fundbox and HungryUp

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CuriosiTech, best fintech of the week_trunomi mycheck fundbox hungry up

Every week, Techfoliance reveals the most promising Fintechs in the world that will revolutionize the way we pay, invest or manage our money. In this week’s FinTech mapping we have : Trunomi, MyCheck, Fundbox and HungryUp.

Trunomi

Techfoliance_trunomi_best fintech of the week

Trunomi is a San Jose based FinTech that develops a data sharing platform to connect clients with their financial institutions to solve data privacy issues. The start-up works with companies like KPMG or PWC.

To be discovered : http://www.trunomi.com/

MyCheck

Techfoliance_Mycheck_best fintech of the week

MyCheck is a New-York based payment Technology platform which enables brands to customize their digital experience and increase customer engagement. Through the mobile app, the merchants can choose the payment solution for their customers thanks to the POS technology.

To be discovered : http://www.mycheck.io/

Fundbox

Techfoliance_fundbox_best fintech of the week

Fundbox is a San Francisco based FinTech that offers business owners a simple way to fix their cash flow by advancing payments for their outstanding invoices. It was built by a group of technological innovators and financial professionals with the mission of helping small businesses grow, become independent and achieve their full potential.

To be discovered: https://fundbox.com/

HungryUp

Techfoliance_hungryup_best fintech of the week

HungryUp is a Paris-based FinTech that allows people to order, pay and share their bills at the restaurant in a fast and modern way. No need to have money with you, everything can be done through the mobile app. The only thing you will have to focus on is to enjoy your mill and spend good time with your friends, regardless of the crowd in the restaurant.

To be discovered : https://hungryup.co/

India: Could India become a FinTech hub in the coming years ?

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India fintech country analysis financial inclusion unbanked population

Techfoliance and The Fintech Twins are travelling together to meet game changers in finance around the world. We want to help you understand the potential that these technologies could have in people’s life in every part of the world.

India is the fastest growing start-up ecosystem in the world with 11,500 start-ups expected by 2020. With most of the population living in rural areas, the FinTech sector will face diverse challenges to reach the mainstream.

We wanted to understand what could be the solutions to meet the needs of the unbanked part of the population, what were the financial services being used by the population : payment, money transfer, saving, etc. ? As well as the type of infrastructure they could rely on to allow financial revolution : post offices, smartphones, etc. ? 

We met entrepreneurs and went on to ask directly to the indians to know more about the financial sytem, here is what we discovered :

Fintech in India – Key figures

INDIA

1.26 billion people are living in India

70% of the population live in rural areas

MOBILE INCLUSION

94% of transactions are made in cash

1 billion phones in india

29% of Indians will have a smartphone by 2019

FINANCIAL INCLUSION

60% of people are unbanked

90% of SMEs have no link with formal financial institutions

Techfoliance_a road trip across the fintech world_india
A Road Trip Across The FinTech World

Country analysis : Fintech in India

FinTech analysis :  coming soon

FinTech analysis :  coming soon

Country conclusion : coming soon

 

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