There’s a lot of excitement about blockchain and the opportunities it offers the financial services ecosystem, but a lot of work is still needed on bridging the learning curve around actual applications and implications. The very fabric of blockchain, its decentralization, is what makes it both interesting and at the same time, difficult to fit into current structures.
It’s amazing to think we’re at the end of 2016, but so we are and it’s time to look ahead to all the materialization we may expect from the digitalization of financial services in 2017.
Turning our attention to Eastern Europe, the beautiful country of Czech Republic, steeped in history, catches our attention. With focus of the fintech world concentrated on hubs such as New York, Silicon Valley, London and Berlin, Prague seems to run under the radar for the most part but given that Prague is the fifth most visited city in Europe, it can’t afford to fall behind. Looking at the figure below, we see that there are a number of successful fintech firms comprising the Czech ecosystem.
It’s no secret that markets gravitate toward greater efficiency with financial services being no different. As we often cover market segments ranging from peer to peer lending, wealth management / robo advisory and online syndication / crowdfunding marketplaces, the innovation emerging is multifaceted and rapid. It’s directed towards reducing friction and better overall service quality or user experience in financial services contexts. But what does this really mean - a future where software developers replace bankers as the architects of financial services?
With the recent implementation of the demonetization rules by the Government of India, a lot of interesting events have taken place in the day-to-day life of the Indian masses. With the largest denomination bank notes of Rs. 500 and Rs. 1,000 taken out of circulation, that accounted for about 86% of India’s cash circulation by value, people were forced to explore alternative routes like online banking and e-wallets as their cash alternatives.
Switzerland, one of the most important global financial centers and home to more than 250 banks, is actually a small of nation of 8 million people, that you may associate with world class chocolate, luxurious watches, the stunning scenery of the Alps and lakes, as well as excellent education infrastructure and unrivaled living standards. All these things and more, but probably not fintech. At least, not yet.
From Friday the 11th to 13th of November, Crowd Valley joined professionals from EY, Capital One, Addepar and CoVenture as well as students from institutions such as Cornell, NYU Stern and Columbia for Cornell’s annual Fintech Hackathon held at their Cornell Tech location in New York City. The focus of the event was to promote the innovation of applications and technology for two verticals: Financial Inclusion and Anti Money Laundering (AML). With $5000 in cash prizes, the event featured a large student turnout filled with exciting ideas to bring to fruition.
Anyone paying attention to the latest news from financial markets would agree that blockchain has been welcomed as the next “big thing” by many professionals due to the new opportunities it presents in terms of business scenarios.
As established financial institutions are becoming increasingly aware of the need to incorporate innovative technologies to their existing operations, the first signs of market consolidation are appearing within the financial technology services industry. According to Capgemini’s recent fintech report: “Almost as many traditional firms are developing their own in-house capabilities (59.2%), as many are seeking partnerships with fintechs (60%).”
London may still be the fintech capital of Europe but in the wake of Brexit and significant growth and development in its peer nations, the German fintech ecosystem is emerging as a major player in financial technology globally. While, for some time, the domestic fintech scene was not commonly known for its breathtaking speed of innovation, things are changing rapidly.