Fintech Fusion calls themselves “the Swiss Fintech Factory.” The startup incubator wants to provide new businesses in the financial tech sector with opportunities to accelerate their operations. They are calling for applications for their 2015 class, which will be their first.
“Banks have to reinvent themselves in the face of technology. They have started to recognize this fact.”
— Sébastien Flury
Interested fintech startups will have until June 15 to hand in applications. Cointelegraph held an exclusive interview with Sébastien Flury, the incubator’s program director.
Cointelegraph: Why do you believe in the future of fintech enterprises?
Sébastien Flury: First, banks have to reinvent themselves in the face of technology. They have started to recognize this fact. Also, finance is a huge market, and Switzerland is one of the top worldwide financial hubs. There are many experienced people in finance, as well as potential customers here. So there's a tremendous opportunity for fintech in Switzerland.
Nevertheless, many financial companies are still in the early days in terms of digital technology.
CT: U.S. startups are relocating to Switzerland for the friendlier regulatory landscape, especially in the area of user privacy (Coinapult, Xapo and Shapeshift, for example). What is your comment about that?
SF: I think it will happen even more often. This is because while Switzerland does not have bank secrecy anymore, it has a strong asset in user privacy. Many U.S. startups are seriously considering this fact.
CT: How did Fintech Fusion come to be? What is the story behind the incubator?
SF: Fintech Fusion is a partnership between venture fund Polytech Ventures and leading banking technology provider Temenos. They both recognized the trend and wanted to jump in.
However, Fintech Fusion is an independent company, which will welcome about six to nine corporate members, including having its own banker.
CT: Is this your first fintech accelerator class? How many fintech startups do you plan to take into your program?
SF: Yes. The first batch of 10 startups will start in October 2015.
CT: You do not offer funding to startups under your accelerator program. How does your program help them fundraise from other sources? Do you have partners who cater to this aspect of support?
SF: Correct, we don't finance them as Fintech Fusion. We provide access to a lot of investor,s as well as to potential customers. The idea is to help them be better, and source cash either from funding or commercial deals.
Polytech Ventures is a VC fund, and we have many investors around us.
CT: Is it true that you are interested in fintech startups from Africa? And if so, why is that?
True. We don't care really about where the startups come from. We just are seeking the best wherever they come from!
“[We want] to reinforce the positioning of Switzerland as a worldwide fintech hub.”
CT: How is your spread across the globe?
SF: We do not plan to have a given number of startups per country or continent. If we have seven excellent startups from Nigeria, we won't exclude them because we would have restricted to three African startups.
CT: What are the short- and long-term goals of Fintech Fusion?
SF: Simply a place for great fintech startups to accelerate their businesses. And a side objective is to reinforce the positioning of Switzerland as a worldwide fintech hub.
CT: Apart from a favorable regulatory environment, what other incentives are there in Switzerland for fintech companies?
SF: Financial services represent 15% of Swiss GDP, and around 6% of the country workforce is in the financial services sector. Switzerland is one of the leaders in the Global Innovation Index, with around 300 banks, and more than US$6.5 trillion assets under management.
Of course, the workforce is well-educated. Couple this with the seriousness of Swiss people when it comes to work ethics and credibility. Furthermore, banks and insurance companies are waking up. Fintech and innovation are words they now understand. So there are a lot of things that will happen in the coming years that make Switzerland the place to be for a fintech enterprise.