How does fintech compare around the world?
The UK and the USA both have established fintech sectors but looking further afield, which other countries are notable fintech hubs?
Key fintech hubs
Singapore is one of the world’s leading fintech capitals. As well as a strong finance industry, top quality physical and digital infrastructure and a favourable ecosystem of investors, Singapore’s government recently announced a three-year plan to invest SG $125 million in technical innovation in financial services.
Singapore is famous for its Singapore Fintech Festival, the biggest event of its kind where the global fintech community gather to discuss the future of the industry. It also hosts Finnovate Asia and the Singapore Week of Innovation & Technology. These events encourage innovation, investment and cybersecurity management.
Adriel, one of Oban’s LIMEs in Singapore, says:
“Singapore is home to 40 innovation labs and hundreds of fintech start-ups. The pandemic last year led to an increase in digital wallets and contactless payments, which meant fintech was increasingly part of everyday life. There are too many fintech brands to mention but one I like is called Fincy – it combines social networking with financial services.”
Lithuania’s capital, Vilnius, is increasingly an attractive location for fintech start-ups, in large part due to government efforts to create a favourable environment. Lithuania’s fintech landscape is led by companies in the payments and remittances services area, but in the last couple of years, there has been an increase in companies engaged in digital banking, lending, regtech and identity. According to Invest Lithuania, the country has about 250 fintech start-ups.
Local start-ups include FinBee, a P2P lending platform, MoQ, a mobile payments platform, and Profitus, a real estate crowdfunding platform. International fintechs based in Lithuania include Blender, a P2P lending platform from Israel, Contis, a provider of end-to-end banking and payments solutions from the UK, and deVere, a wealth tech company headquartered in Dubai.
Dovydas, an Oban LIME based in Vilnius, told us:
“The government has worked hard to create a business-friendly environment, including low corporation taxes to attract start-ups. The success of fintech has been a factor in helping to encourage Lithuanian expats to return from abroad, and it’s also attracting international professionals to relocate here too.”
Switzerland is, of course, famous for the strength of its traditional finance sector, and it’s thanks to this that the country has an ideal ecosystem for fintech start-ups. The fintech capital of Switzerland is Zug, which styles itself “Crypto Valley”, complete with a Crypto Valley Association. The IFZ Fintech Study 2020 from the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Art estimates that there are nearly 400 fintech businesses based in Switzerland, of which 70% provide bank infrastructure or investment management tech.
Similar to other fintech hubs, Swiss regulators and lawmakers have worked hard to create a business-friendly environment, with low taxes and favourable legislation. There is an annual awards ceremony called the Swiss Fintech Awards to honour innovation in the sector.
Lara, an Oban LIME based in Geneva, says:
“Whilst Zug is the fintech capital, both Zurich and Geneva also have a number of well known fintech enterprises. One well known fintech is called Bloomio, which is a crowdfunding platform connecting start-ups with investors.”
Amsterdam has a long history of financial innovation – the world’s first central bank was established there, as was the first joint-stock company. Today, about 20,000 people work in fintech in the Netherlands, mostly based in Amsterdam.
Amsterdam’s first unicorn – that is, a privately-held company worth over $1 billion – was Adyen, a fintech payment services company which is now the most valuable fintech enterprise in the European Union. Other Dutch fintechs, such as Ohpen, Buckaroo and EclecticIQ, are following in its footsteps and making waves in payments, banking software and cybersecurity.
Roos, an Oban LIME based in Amsterdam, says:
“The Netherlands has a history of tech innovation, so it’s not a surprise that Amsterdam is a growing fintech hub. The country has a strong internet infrastructure, and whilst Dutch is obviously the main language, most people in Amsterdam are fluent in English (and many in German and French too). Transport links are good and the cost of living is relatively affordable for Western Europe.”
As of 2020, there were over 2,000 fintech start-ups in India, of which the majority were founded within the last four years. In the Global Fintech Index 2020, three Indian cities made it into the top 20 for fintech – Mumbia (home to the Mumbai Fintech Hub), Delhi and Bangaluru. India’s fintech strengths lie in payments and remittances, personal finance and lending equity funding.
Fintech has the potential to be especially transformative in India: the use of big data, machine learning and alternative data to underwrite credit and develop credit scores for customers with limited credit history will help to broaden financial inclusion.
A lack of early-stage funding has been a barrier for Indian start-ups – but nevertheless, progress has been significant and the growth potential is huge. Well known Indian fintechs include Paytm, Phonepe, PolicyBazaar and LendingKart.
Amit, an Oban LIME based in Delhi, told us:
“The Indian government’s demonetisation policy in 2016 – which removed 86% of currency from circulation, as part of a crackdown on illicit and counterfeit currency used to finance illegal activities – rapidly accelerated a switch to digital payments. This has proven highly beneficial to fintechs in India. Helping the economy to be less reliant on cash is a key focus for the Indian government.”
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Az Ahmed | Marketing Manager
Oban International is the digital marketing agency specialising in international expansion. Our LIME (Local In-Market Expert) Network provides up to date cultural input and insights from over 80 markets around the world, helping clients realise the best marketing opportunities and avoid the costliest mistakes.