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Pack your bags

The best cities to work in as a FinTech developer

Natali Vlatko
London image via Shutterstock

Where in the world should you be if you’re eager to have your finger on the pulse of FinTech? What cities best represent the culture, technology, innovation and growth that the FinTech space is continuing to have?

FinTech is growing at an incredible rate, so there’s no better way to get involved than to emerge yourself in the cities at the heart of the FinTech boom. If you’re looking to get amongst it, consider this your own personal travel guide to the cities that are making waves in FinTech.

London

There is no denying that London is the place to be if you’re getting involved or making an investment in FinTech. According to the latest Accenture report, the city known as The Square Mile has become the FinTech capital of Europe. Four of the biggest banks have their global or European headquarters in London, which isn’t surprising given that the city is experiencing an entrepreneurial renaissance in its tech sector, and has the highest density of startups in the world.

It’s all in the numbers: From 2008 to 2013, investment in the FinTech space soared into the millions of pounds (and Euros) for the region of UK and Ireland, with London’s financial services sector by far the biggest driver of the UK economy. It’s the fastest growing FinTech capital in the world and accounts for more than half of European investment in the sector.

Historically, the world’s first ATM was installed in a Barclays bank in London in 1967, so the European FinTech Crown feels somewhat at home on the Thames. It’s also home to the FinTech Innovation Lab Accelerator, the massive festival known as FinTech Week, the JAX Finance conference as well as the Level39 Incubator. And who could forget the success story that is TransferWise?

New York over Silicon Valley

You must think that we’re having you on at this point – since when did New York do anything better than Silicon Valley when tech was involved? Judging by the Big Apple’s recent growth in investment and funding for the FinTech sector, it will soon surpass Silicon Valley as the FinTech capital of the Americas.

Accenture and the Partnership Fund for New York City recently looked into the buzz and found that while Silicon Valley was still the the largest recipient of FinTech investment, New York had a third as many FinTech investment deals as Silicon Valley in 2011, two-thirds as many in 2013 and a near-equal number in the first quarter of 2014. Seventeen investment deals had closed in New York as of March 31 versus 19 in Silicon Valley.

SEE ALSO: Defining FinTech

Barclays has already recognised the Big Apple’s FinTech potential, with the Barclays Accelerator set to open it’s East Coast doors come July 2015. The program will provide the opportunity for ten companies to participate in thirteen weeks of intensive networking, mentoring and development, aimed at supporting breakthrough financial technology innovations.

New York’s embracing of FinTech is also extending to cryptocurrencies, with Councilman Mark Levine recently introducing a bill that, if passed, would allow the municipality to start accepting bitcoin as payment for parking fines and court fees. Councilman Levine, who represents the 7th District in Northern Manhattan, is particularly passionate about developments in the bitcoin community, with New York following in the footsteps of Pittsburgh by considering bitcoin payment services.

Other European hubs

Okay, back to Europe for a second – we couldn’t leave out the following cities and their FinTech prowess:

  1. Paris

Despite the contrary view regarding the French tax system from over the pond, France is a whopping 25 years ahead of America in terms of chip and pin credit cards, which were invented in France in 1992. While the FinTech wave has descended at a slower pace over the City of Love, it has finally arrived and innovation is flourishing.

Finexkap secured over $22 million dollars worth of fundraising to launch the first French online working capital financing platform, Lendix raised €7 million Euros to fuel the growth of their crowdfunding platform for SMEs, and Paytop received €3.3 million Euros from historical investor Truffle Capital to scale its international payment card solution.

  1. Berlin

It’s already well known that Berlin is the startup darling of Europe, and they’re slowly closing in on the bigger players in the FinTech space. Their robust economy, homogenous market and German-speaking neighbours in Switzerland and Austria make for a promising FinTech climate – just ask the founders of FinLeap, the international FinTech company builder translating the most promising ideas into independent companies.

One only has to say the words Rocket Internet to know we mean business: With an estimated worth between $4.5 and $5.7 billion dollars, as well as being Germany’s only publicly listed VC Fund, Rocket’s standing as the most valuable incubator in the world is propelling Berlin into the FinTech stratosphere in terms of market potential within the country being transmitted globally.

  1. Dublin

Let’s not discount the success of London by forgetting about Dublin, shall we? The Liffeysiders have helped the region of UK and Ireland soar above all FinTech expectations by together attracting more than half of Europe’s FinTech deals in 2013 (53 percent) and more than two-thirds of its total financing for the year (69 percent, or $265 million).

You’ll also find another headquarters of the FinTech Innovation Labs in Dublin, set up in a bid to encourage entrepreneurs to accelerate technology innovation in the capital, along with Dublin playing a starring role in the FinTech Road Show.

Who could forget Asia?

Of course, this guide wouldn’t be complete without the Asian FinTech powerhouses of Hong Kong and Singapore. In Hong Kong, big plans are underway to create a comprehensive ecosystem that aims to provide a single point of contact for key stakeholders in the FinTech space via the FinTech HK website. FinTech HK are also responsible for the first ever report analysing Hong Kong’s future as a leading FinTech hub.

SEE ALSO: The companies opening up their FinTech APIs

In Singapore, the leading startup accelerator for the FinTech sector is Start Up Boot Camp, who have partnered up with DBS, MasterCard, SBT Venture Capital and others to provide the expertise, exposure channels, APIs and access to a network of industry professionals for the most promising of FinTech startups. PwC is a firm believer in Singapore’s FinTech potential too, who believe the established finance centre can lead the pack at the forefront of FinTech innovation.

The rise of Tel-Aviv

The final destination in our FinTech adventure is Tel-Aviv, whose banks are opening their doors to FinTech innovation and exploration. Bank Leumi launched the first FinTech hackathon in Israel last year, which saw companies such as Yodlee, import.io, Mashery, and OpenBankProject offer their products to use as part of the participant’s hacks. The Bank Leumi Hackathon opened up a plethora of APIs that offered easy access and SDKs for the event, in a bid to promote their use and implementation in future FinTech startups.

Contributing even further to the Israeli FinTech boom, Bank Leumi have partnered with investment fund Elevator to set up it’s own accelerator program, proving that there is indeed a vibrant and growing space for FinTech outside of the major hubs.

Author
Natali Vlatko
An Australian who calls Berlin home, via a two year love affair with Singapore. Natali was an Editorial Assistant for JAXenter.com (S&S Media Group).

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