Fintech Summit 2017 (Brussels) impressions and reports (2/3)

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Last December 14th was held in Brussels, the Fintech Summit. Several consultants of Initio were present to assist to various keynotes and new Fintech presentations.

We share with you our opinions and thoughts on the topics covered in this series of articles.

The opinion of Frederic Lorain, business analyst @ Initio

The Fintech Belgium Summit took place last Thursday, Dec 14th at the Egg in Brussels and delivered on all my expectations: providing a good view of the market and the local business initiatives, meeting potential business leads and article sources and last but not least some potential recruits.

The trending words were of course Artificial Intelligence, Blockchain (who would have guessed?), chatbots, cyber-security or insecurity but also apps and payments and also Social and Responsible Investment.

The main data I will retain is that:

- the AI impact is being estimated at T$ 16 by 2030

- Europe is the largest single market for Fintech. Most fintech innovation in the EU comes from the UK (38% of Venture Capital market), Germany (14%), Sweden (9%), France (8%) and then Spain.

- Revolut is skyrocketing (which isn’t really news, is it?) in terms of customers as well as amounts transacted and their new added features encounter immediate success (16,000 businesses within 4 month after the launch of Revolut for business, 20 USD Million transacted 1 week after the launch of their crypto currency feature / platform and a total of more than a million B2C customers onboarded (each in 60 s) in 2 years). Their well-trained chatbot is able to answer 27% of customer’s queries and that is quite impressive. They are maybe THE neobank to watch as they tend to do everything better.

- There is an obvious difference of mindset between the EU and the US and we need to fix this “genetic mismatch”. In the EU, we tend to be not enough creative because failure is not an option. We’re good at Risk procedures and analysis but lack a certain craziness for risking true Innovation. Indeed innovation requires experimenting and sometimes failing.

- Cybersecurity is more and more important with the goods dematerialization and the ever growing amount of data exchanged.

- Regulators still have a big challenge ahead in adapting and implementing an adequate regulatory framework preventing abuses, scams and crisis while encouraging innovation.

My 3 favorite start ups were Accountable, Easyvest and Risk Concile.

Accountable, the financial assistant for self-employed.

Accountable is an app willing to be a full financial assistant for independent self employed workers in Europe (1 million in Belgium, 8 millions in France, 20-30% of the EU workers) and get them rid off their accountant (700€ / 4000€ spent each year / independant). I thought their idea was sound and simple: Digital Accounting Management starting in a niche market. Given the size of the potential market, their commercial speech was well thought and a concept plain and simple is always more striking than a too sophisticated technology no one gets.

Easyvest, artificial intelligence for investment.

Then Easyvest sounded really interesting until I realized their technology was fully reliant on IBM’s Watson instead of in-house tech. Also the CEO spent a little too much time explaining what a chatbot is. Still, the idea (mixing private investment with chatbots to facilitate placing orders and finding adequate investments) to adapt Watson to the Belgian investment sector is appealing and promising, with quite a nice regulatory headache to take on. Big challenge ahead!

Risk Concile, Risk Monitoring for Asset Management

Last but not least Risk Concile (Risk Monitoring for Asset Management) uses AI and machine learning to provide the key investment document required by PRIIPS but also and most importantly Risk Management Solutions and Independent Valuation. Simply provide an ISIN and the computation results in an independent reliable valuation for any financial product. They’re focusing on auditing firms for their forecoming development. Their concept is far from being crystal clear as it relies on a AI “secret sauce” blackbox. But the pitch was really convincing and the team seems hardcore experienced (4 members totalling more than 80 years of financial markets experience). So, depending on what is in the blackbox, it’s either a big scam or a brilliant service they’re offering! Either way their speaker was brilliant.

So, as a conclusion, we’re still in an awareness discovery stage with board members often not fully aware of what is going on and being reluctant to seizing opportunities but as Revolut would say, let’s keep on building and go Beyond Banking. Expertise matters.

About the author

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Frederic Lorain. Graduated from the École de Management Léonard de Vinci, major in Audit / Corporate Finance with a year in exchange with the London South Bank University, where Frederic obtained a Combined Honours BA in Advanced Accounting and European Policy Studies. Frederic  joined Initio in June 2017.