FinTech at the intersection of finance & technology

Katka Letzing
August 9 2016

It is hard to imagine the world without the internet and mobile devices, which have become core elements of our lives. Technology has also brought a high degree of disruption to the financial services industry, and transformed financial products & services – and we are at just the beginning of this trend. “FinTech” describes the phenomenon that lies at the intersection of finance & technology. As a financial services hub with a strong tradition of innovation, Switzerland in an ideal place to explore the potential of FinTech. The Kickstart Accelerator FinTech Vertical is a very good example of FinTech gaining momentum in the country of banks.

During outreach, we received 800 applications out of which 162 applications were from FinTech startups from all over the world. More than 40 evaluators followed a vigorous selection process, resulting in 20 shortlisted companies. The quality of these companies and thus the level of competition was extremely high.

The final selection took place during a two-day Bootcamp, where more than 60 entrepreneurs from the 20 shortlisted startups were invited to pitch their businesses in Zurich.

The jury, composed of more than 30 entrepreneurs, investors, corporate partners’ executives and experts, selected the following 10 cutting-edge companies:

Let me begin with Surong360, a peer-to-peer lending platform for university students in China to borrow money from alumni and Mergims, an online bills payment aggregator for basic urgent services and products in Rwanda. These companies in the 2016 cohort are a great example of FinTech becoming an enabler of economic inclusion. By addressing previously excluded consumer demographics, the industry is in a position to drive innovation and economic & social change.

Since the Kickstart Accelerator FinTech Vertical also has important emerging FinTech trends on its radar, two blockchain technology based startups made into the program: Gatechain, a solution that redefines trade finance by removing paper and using digital exchange of documents and Nivaura, a modular Digital Platform Solutions, for commercial and investment banking, to enable faster, cheaper, easier and safer issuance, execution and administration of complex financial products.

Banks are adopting new solutions to improve and simplify operations, which fosters a move away from physical channels and towards digital/mobile delivery. The best examples offering this trend in the 2016 cohort are Notakeywhich utilizes hardware-based key storage for authentication, authorization and document management; Veezoo, a business Artificial Intelligence tool to explore data by asking questions and James, which brings the power of Machine Learning to Credit Risk Departments. The enhancement of credit underwriting/decision-making is the core preoccupation for Lenditapp, a cloud-based, business solution for the alternative small business lending marketplace.

While during the hot summertime people may be enjoying a day at the lake, FinTech is riding a different wave – the one of disruption with solutions that can better address customer needs and the pursuit of customer centricity. Zoa gives consumers a tool to protect digital privacy and offers a marketplace to allow these consumers to choose what kind of information about themselves they want to sell to companies.

Another wave of disruption is hitting the insurance sectors. That is why one InsurTech startup is also in the program: Sureify, a platform that bridges the gap between insurance carriers and their current and future policyholders.

Soon it will be hard to imagine how financial services worked before the age of FinTech. And, thanks to the Kickstart Accelerator, together with 2016 cohort, the financial sector (notably Credit Suisse, Ernst & Young, Global FinTech Association, Six, Swisscom, Swiss Life, UBS) and many other international and national actors from the FinTech ecosystem, the country of banks will play an important role in the FinTech story.