FinTech Hubs: Global Financial Technology Hotspots
Fintech is spreading like wildfire around the world, with innovative startups challenging the status quo globally. Interestingly, each hub has its own unique driving forces that fuels innovation, often resulting in certain hubs specializing in a specific area of fintech.
When we think about leading fintech hubs, many of us would automatically think North America and Europe.
While these two regions are still the front runners when it comes to investment into financial technology and innovation, there are some cities around the world emerging as “fintech hubs” that might surprise you.
London is still the undisputed leader when it comes to fintech and disruptive technologies. No surprises here. Its excellent global positioning means it has the world’s largest financial services sector and a growing tech industry. Add government support and abundant capital reserves into the mixture and it’s clear why London became the top hub for innovation in financial services.
Some of the biggest players in capital markets, retail banking and wealth management call London home, including Starling Bank, Algomi and Nutmeg.
However, because of Brexit, there is some uncertainty looming over London’s dominance. Investors are unsure what UK’s deal to leave the European Union might look like (i.e. will it remain in the single market?). Saying that, it will take some time to knock London of the top spot.
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Fintech aims to bring innovation to the financial services sector and startups often flourish in a matured financial services market. As one of the oldest financial services capitals in the world (it is in fact the birthplace of the modern day stock market), Amsterdam provides the perfect breeding ground for fintech startups, with low payment transaction costs and a strong entrepreneurial presence.
It is renowned for its innovation in the payments market. Global payments processing platform, Ayden, processed payments to the tune of $90 billion in 2016 and had revenue of $727 million. It’s also known to be a cryptocurrency centre (Ethereum and Bitcoin) and the main headquarters of Bitpay is located in Amsterdam.
Experts also believe that, should Brexit have a particularly adverse effect on London’s financial services and fintech markets, Amsterdam will take over the crown as Europe’s dominant financial technology hub.
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Similar to London, New York has a thriving financial services sector in desperate need for innovation. Fintech use to be seen as a direct competitor to the financial services industry, especially for traditional financial services providers like banks. However, there is a change in perception and many financial services companies now see fintech startups as an ally than can bring them into the 21st century. New York is leading this collaborative effort.
The city’s speciality is investment and lending. Betterment is an online investment company with over $3 billion invested through the platform in 2016.
OnDeck on the other hand is a leading loan provider to small businesses and has loaned more than $2 billion to small businesses across the globe.
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Technically a country, Singapore is a major contender for the top fintech hub in the world. It has strong support from the local government for fintech initiatives, with the country hosting its inaugural Singapore FinTech Festival in 2016.
It holds bragging rights to some of the globe’s award-winning startups and technology, including Dragon Wealth (one stop marketing solution for financial advisors to attract new clients) and CashShield (a fraud detection service that makes use of innovative technologies like predictive analysis, machine learning and big data).
Other cash focussed startups include SoCash and Fastacash, with the latter attracting over $23 million in funding, one of the biggest funded fintech companies in Asia.
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Tel Aviv might be a surprising fintech hub as many people perceive the Middle-East as an unstable economical area and thus not ideal to cultivate innovation. Prepare to stand corrected.
It’s home to The Floor, a forward thinking initiative that provides a bespoke platform to fintech entrepreneurs to connect and share ideas, all in one place. The Israeli market is significantly smaller compared to other areas but this can be seen as an advantage.
Fintech entrepreneurs in Tel Aviv have to look outside of Israel to provide technological solutions to global markets, often focussing on Europe and North America. It therefore breeds an out-of-the-box thinking culture that enables them to compete with the rest of the world.
One such example is Lemonade, a disruptive startup that uses machine learning and bots to provide insurance and administer claims. At the 2017 Geek Awards, it won Best New Startup of the Year.
Another example is Payoneer, a cross-border payment solution that can process payments in over 200 currencies. No wonder it counts Amazon and Airbnb as some of its clients.
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Toronto is one of the most stable and biggest financial centres in the world. Additionally, almost 80% of Canada’s fintech startups call Toronto home. Its reputation as a fintech hub not only attracts financial technology startups but also global banks, looking to build on their fintech expertise.
It’s proved to be quite revolutionary in the accounting sector as well. FreshBooks and Wave provide cloud-based accounting software to small business owners, allowing them to stay on top of things from anywhere around the world.
Another success story from Toronto is Shopify, an ecommerce software startup, with an IPO in 2015 of over $1.2 billion.
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Germany is one of Europe’s power houses, with Berlin a rising star in the fintech sphere. And, like Amsterdam, it could be a challenger to London’s financial technology crown. Especially when we look at the InsurTech market.
Friendsurance provides online peer-to-peer insurance solutions, where individuals can connect to create insurance networks, thereby reducing premiums and increasing transparency.
Simplesurance enable “cross-selling of product insurances directly at the point of sale in e-commerce” and Element is a digital insurance solution with the aim of stripping down the complicated insurance process down to its core to inject technology and simplify the process.
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There is of course a whole heap of additional cities that can be classified as fintech hubs, including Hong Kong, Silicon Valley (San Francisco), Shanghai, Bangalore and Johannesburg to name but a few. It does however show how fintech is spreading and the far reaching impact that this innovative industry has on the world.