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FinTech Hubs: Paris Showing a Lot of Love for Financial Technology

The city of love seems to have found a new companion in financial technology. In Q3 2017 alone, France’s FinTech investment nearly hit $80 million, with the overwhelming majority of that relating to Paris.

The actual transaction value was well over $80 billion.

(Source: KPMG - The Pulse of FinTech Q3 2017)

Apart from being a top tourist destination (ranked 3rd in the world in 2016), Paris seems to be coming into its own when looking at FinTech innovation.

When digging beneath the surface, it becomes clear why the industry has seen such growth in the French capital.

Leading financial centre

Time and again, when investigating the biggest FinTech hubs around the world, there is always one common element: the strength of the local financial industry.

There’s quite a simple reason for that, financial technology thrives on disrupting, partnering and innovating within traditional financial markets.

Paris is no different.

Finance is the 3rd largest sector of employment in Paris and there are around 1.2 million people employed in the financial industry in France as a whole.

17 out of the world’s 20 largest banks are present in the Paris region and it is Europe’s biggest home for asset managers.

With a market capitalization of €41 billion, Euronext is also Europe’s biggest technology stock exchange and the insurance industry is the 4th largest in the world.

The Paris finance ecosystem, therefore, provides a prime foundation for FinTech startups to thrive upon.

Linxo, a personal finance and budgeting app, raised $24 million in funding and Younited Credit, the leading online consumer lending platform in Continental Europe, has managed to raise over $100 since its launch.

Strong political support

There’s no doubt that ever since the word “Brexit” was first uttered, every major European city saw a gap to potentially take London’s FinTech crown.

When governments get behind a certain sector, they tend to enjoy support from the highest offices, making it much more likely for startups in those sectors to succeed.

French president, Emmanuel Macron, has pledged $55 billion worth of public investment into various business initiatives, including digital innovation. Being a former investment banker himself, he knows and understands that the digital disruption that innovative FinTech startups provide is needed in the ageing financial sector.

He also personally attended the opening of Station F in Paris, the biggest startup incubator in the world, to further show his support to the sector.

Other top officials are also getting on board.

Vice President of the Paris Region, Othman Nasrou, specifically planned a trip to London during 2017 to encourage financial technology startups to move to Paris. Axelle Lemaire, digital minister of the country, did the same thing, noting that investment in technology increased by 71% in France during 2016.

With such vocal support for FinTech startups, it’s clear why Paris is steadily becoming a FinTech hub to contend with.

Social aspects

In order to thrive as a FinTech hub, a city needs to be able to attract and retain the very best talent in the industry.

Paris is a truly international city that attracts top specialists from around the world. The population of the capital is more than 10 million, with close to 20% of its inhabitants from other countries.

The average salary in Paris is also 60% higher than the rest of the country. That means that, although it has the pulling power to attract a skilled workforce from around the globe, it also has the necessary components to keep them there.

Education is another top priority in Paris. There are 18 universities in the Paris area and it consistently ranks among the best student cities in the world. In 2017 it came 2nd only to Montreal.

This, coupled with comparatively low tuition fees, means FinTech startups have a ready supply of highly-skilled workers at their doorstep.

Further success stories

The Paris FinTech Forum is a major international FinTech event, with more than 2,000 people from around the world attending talks and exhibitions by more than a 150 FinTech companies and over 200 speakers. The event facilitates real discussions about key issues in the industry to support future innovation.

Furthermore, one of Paris’s most successful FinTech startup is HiPay, an online payments provider, the first French financial technology company to be publicly listed and processes over €2 billion worth of transactions annually.

Another great export of the city is Leetchi, a personal fundraising and group gifting website, which recently saw a €50 million investment from Crédit Mutuel Arkea (a French digital bank) to take 86% of its capital.

 

It’s a great time to be a FinTech startup in Paris as the city is giving the industry a lot of affection, from the ageing financial services industry to top political leaders, but most important, from the highly-skilled workforce that will drive FinTech innovation into the future.