The Fintech District is an open ecosystem that launched in 2017, aiming to foster the event of the fintech trade in Italy. In simply over two years, positioned in an iconic constructing in Milan, they’ve been in a position to entice a big neighborhood composed of nationwide and worldwide stakeholders, together with not solely fintech startups, but additionally monetary establishments, buyers, firms, public establishments and established relationships with a great variety of European innovation hubs.
Right here I spoke with Alessandro Longoni, the Head of Fintech District, about present and future ambitions with its neighborhood, the standing of the Italian fintech startup ecosystem, how they’re dealing with the present Covid-19 emergency and what he sees in the way forward for monetary expertise.
Ciao Alessandro, very comfortable to have you ever right here. May you kindly give us a quick introduction about your self?
Thanks for the invitation! Professionally, earlier than taking accountability for the Fintech District in Milan, I labored in London for five years on world digital innovation and enterprise growth in corporations like Vodafone and Samsung. Throughout my life in London, I labored on initiatives like bringing Samsung Pay to Europe, participated as a mentor in programmes corresponding to Startup Bootcamp and Home of Genius, and grew my contacts within the ecosystem. Then I proudly determined to dedicate 1 12 months of my life touring, after I had the chance to go to eight completely different nations. In my free time, I really like training sports activities and enjoying with something digital.
Fintech District began in Milan about two years in the past. What number of members do you’ve got in the intervening time? How have issues developed since then and what do you see sooner or later?
Fintech District is a global neighborhood, primarily based in Milan, in a constructing that has change into an iconic level of reference for the innovation ecosystem in Italy. We function to create one of the best circumstances for all stakeholders (startups, monetary establishments, corporates, professionals, establishments and buyers) to function in synergy and discover alternatives for native and worldwide progress. In the present day our neighborhood is powerful with 143 fintech corporations, 14 company members which might be supporting our actions, eight professionals offering recommendation to our members, and is linked with 10 worldwide fintech hubs throughout the EU, with many extra actors concerned within the day-to-day actions. In 2 and a half years, now we have grown significantly, mirroring the fintech sector in our nation. We goal to succeed in 150 fintech corporations in our neighborhood by the top of 2020 and we consider that we will additionally play an energetic position in placing Milan on the heart of European and world consideration.
Are there any explicit fintech startups in Italy that we should always keep watch over?
In our neighborhood we settle for fintech corporations which have a minimum of 1 worker, 1 product and 1 consumer, with operations or authorized headquarter in Italy after a radical evaluation. Which means now we have each Italian and non-Italian corporations.
There are well-known worldwide fintech corporations corresponding to N26 and Revolut, which have their Southern European Headquarters primarily based in Milan. Among the many Italian fintech corporations, a few of them are attaining wonderful outcomes and increasing in Europe corresponding to Satispay and Moneyfarm. Then Credimi is a wonderful instance of a digital factoring answer. There may be additionally an attention-grabbing case of proptech scaling outdoors of Italy: Walliance. In February 2020, we additionally had an necessary exit in our neighborhood: Moneymour was acquired by the Swedish financial institution Klarna. We are able to positively say that the startup ecosystem is vibrant and energetic!
Inform us a bit in regards to the startup ecosystem in Milan. What are its distinctive facets? The place do you see extra room for enchancment?
In Milan, the fintech startup sector continues to be in an early stage, however is growing nicely and rising, making up roughly 40% of the full 300 fintech corporations in Italy. We consider that the ecosystem has all of the potential to be a degree of reference for Southern Europe. On the identical time, in Milan, there’s nonetheless a really small variety of scaleups with greater than 50 staff (5% of the 80 corporations that have been born within the final 5 years). It’s well-known that scaleups are the driving issue when it comes to affect, turnover and employment progress. For that reason, the Fintech District crew is encouraging the creation of synergies between corporations, buyers and the event of open innovation initiatives: these are going to be the forces behind the expansion and the advance of the ecosystem.
How have you ever and your members been affected by the present difficult state of affairs with Coronavirus? It’s very onerous to make any forecasts now, as the entire state of affairs continues to be evolving, however how do you assume the Italian startups ecosystem will overcome this era?
It’s an unprecedented and critical state of affairs; companies globally are altering their method to sort out this disaster in a really quick timeframe and results might be seen in and for months. We have now already skilled a pointy shift to “sensible working”, for instance, and everyone seems to be studying the best way to be more practical remotely in a rustic the place work has at all times been historically face-to-face, or in individual. Our trade (fintech) might be extra ready than others for this shift and nonetheless, it has certainly suffered an affect. Nonetheless, in general, the primary response now we have seen has been proactive: our neighborhood (each fintech startups and company members) has come along with quite a lot of initiatives to assist the struggle in opposition to COVID-19 both by way of fundraising or by way of free recommendation. We consider it is a pragmatic and beneficiant method and now we have taken motion to combination all of the actions on this article “The Energy of Fintech Group”.
Italy as a rustic wants now to reply the emergency within the quick time period by making a leap ahead and change into extra digital. Fintech corporations have a robust know-how in expertise and innovation and most certainly they are going to discover extra space in folks’s lives additionally when the emergency might be over.
For these eager about establishing a fintech startup in Italy, what are the circumstances? Any particular public or personal assist programmes in place?
It’s no completely different making a fintech than a firm from some other trade in Italy. Nonetheless, the fintech trade resides by a really optimistic section, with consideration from the regulator who lately arrange a sandbox to assist the event of recent corporations and use circumstances. As of at the moment, accelerators like Startup Bootcamp, Plug ‘n Play, and Magic Wand by Digital Magics are most likely your only option for a delicate touchdown platform in Italy. On the identical time, we consider that the nation can do extra. And because of this, we’re establishing a collaboration with Milan’s Council in 2020 to offer simpler entry to establishments, scale back pointless forms, supply most providers in a digital kind and assist startups to arrange a base in Italy.
The final time we spoke you informed me in regards to the European Fintech Discovery Program, aiming to attach varied fintech hubs in Europe. Are you able to inform us a bit about that? How are issues progressing?
As I discussed earlier, now we have a collaboration with 10 completely different Fintech hubs in Europe, and the European Fintech Discovery Program was our option to carry to market a structured programme. Each taking part fintech hub can supply to its company prospects the chance to go to different ecosystems and uncover new fintech options. A company buyer can browse the content material on this web page, choose a class of curiosity, go to as much as four hubs in Europe, meet 20+ startups and get a closing report of the invention journey. This confirmed nice collaboration throughout completely different nations and gathered quite a lot of curiosity as the primary Pan-European ecosystem collaboration.
The road dividing fintech startups, monetary establishments and massive tech corporations is getting very blurred. How do you see this growing? How will fintech will look in 5 – 10 years?
Particularly after the introduction of the PSD2, relationships between startups, monetary establishments and massive tech have modified. We’re shifting in direction of even larger cooperation. With a view to stay aggressive, conventional banks should innovate and might accomplish that by opening as much as collaborate with fintechs, that are versatile and sometimes very vertical. This verticality is extra able to satisfying the precise wants of the top buyer successfully and rapidly. In 5 or 10 years we think about a fintech sector with fewer however extra established gamers and with numerous collaborations in place between fintechs and incumbents. Banking will change into modular and prospects will reap the advantages of this collaboration, as they are going to have the ability to make the most of more and more personalised providers at aggressive costs.
What do you learn to maintain up with information and innovation? Are there any podcasts, blogs or publications, overlaying Italian fintech startups, that you simply significantly like and that you simply need to counsel to our readers?
I’ve a giant benefit in comparison with most of you in relation to podcasts, blogs and publications: I can perceive Italian! : )
In actual fact, a lot of the communication in the marketplace is completed within the native language by gamers corresponding to Fintastico. The work carried out regionally is nice, however it’s just for these talking Italian. For that reason, now we have on our web site information in English that stories on each new corporations which might be accessing our neighborhood and profitable collaborations amongst our members. There you’ll find additionally a information in regards to the Italian fintech ecosystem, which is feasible to browse instantly on-line. Then, after all, our publication and social channels are a great way to be up to date on all the things that’s taking place in Italy within the startup ecosystem.