By now, you should know who are the top European startups (more like big companies actually) in fintech. If you do not know them yet, you can have a look here. And you probably have heard of a few other well-known fintechs outside Europe like Stripe or the gigantic Ant Group (that is or is not going to have the biggest IPO of all time, the mystery remains). Where do they tend to be based or start off from? Where are the top fintech hubs in the world?
Singapore has been pushing hard into Fintech lately. It is a big business centre that is competing with Hong Kong for supremacy in Asia. Naturally, it is therefore one of the top fintech hubs. Some say that it is benefiting from the recent political dramas there (or at least it is the best-placed to lure businesses that could decide to move). The city has many industry associations supporting fintechs as well as over 20 incubators and accelerators. Singapore is home to a diverse ecosystem of financial technology startups from RegTech to payments, including blockchain.
The fact that DBS Bank is based in Singapore, arguably the most innovative and forward-looking bank in the world, is definitely helping. Also, the country’s sovereign fund, Temasek Holdings, is investing a lot in fintech: Policybazaar, Ant Group, and super app Go-Jek to name a few.
It is a strong competition to Hong-Kong as a hub for the industry in the region and well-placed to benefit from Asia’s fintech boom.
Even though the West Coast, and most notably the Silicon Valley, is better known for its tech scene, don’t count out New-York. It is America’s financial capital and a top financial centre globally. It is therefore naturally one of the top fintech hubs. New-York often ties for the first place with London in the ranking tables, and therefore it makes sense that the fintech ecosystem is quite strong there. A highly skilled talent pool and a range of startup accelerators are contributing to its vibrant fintech scene. Big names include insurer Oscar and robo-advisor Betterment.
Partnerships are obviously easier when you are a few blocks away from the world’s biggest banks and insurance companies, even though partnering with them is not always easy or a good idea. Although it is worth noting that no all major financial centers are fintech hubs, Frankfurt and Zurich notably. You need more than that and New York ticks the other boxes.
Since the advent of Fintech post-GFC, Hong-Kong has been amongst the top fintech hubs. Similar to New York and London, the city is big on financial services, accounting for nearly 20% of its GDP. Therefore, the sprawling of fintech initiatives was quite natural. The government’s proactive and supportive stance towards fintech helped as well.
Recent unrest have not really impacted Hong-Kong yet, which remains a major financial centre in Asia. This is where Ant Group had chosen to IPO (still might list there, things are in flux at the moment). Time will tell if the new laws hinder the reputation of the city for business, as a few other places nearby like Singapore are not sitting on their hands to lure fintech companies.
San Francisco Bay / Silicon Valley
The reality is, the Silicon Valley is THE tech hub globally. Apple, Google, Facebook, you name it. A lot of the innovation in tech comes from there. So it is quite naturally one of the top fintech hubs in the world as well. There are plenty of startup accelerators, incubators, across a range of specialities from payments to insurance, including RegTech. Venture Capital firms that have a presence in San Francisco and are very active in the fintech space also play a huge role in supporting the ecosystem.
Companies that are based or started in the San Francisco bay include Stripe, Coinbase, Plaid or Chime. And you also have the Big Tech companies based there that are increasingly active in fintech, like Apple or Google.
It is not going to lose its shine tomorrow however the current immigration policy, putting aside Covid-19, is having an impact. The Silicon Valley is built on immigrant innovation.
Alright, fair enough, that’s not particularly a scoop. It is well-known that London is often described as the Fintech Capital of the world. Probably the king amongst the top fintech hubs. It is a major banking and financial services centre globally, therefore it is not surprising that the fintech industry is so strong there. Reasons for that are numerous: easy access to capital through a solid angel investor community and Venture Capital funds that have all set up shop in London, access to a large pool of foreign talent and proximity to supporting services like legal and consulting. It is by far leading in Europe in terms of investments in fintech companies – even with the Covid-19 crisis. A few regional hubs like Edinburgh and Manchester are also contributing to the UK and London’s success.
However, it is worth noting that Brexit is looming. The political and economic uncertainty has not yet had a serious impact on the fintech ecosystem in the British capital. Will London remain a top fintech hub? Chances are that in the short term, little will change. It takes time to build a favourable ecosystem and London has all the key ingredients. That does not mean that other cities in Europe and beyond are not going to try to take advantage of the situation and lure fintech businesses…
There are plenty of other top fintech hubs that you could argue should be considered from Paris to Amsterdam, including Shanghai. There are also a plethora of emerging ones, like São Paulo or Vilnius. Fintech is a fast moving industry, and it is probable that things will shift around as more companies emerge, and some collapse.
Fintech is in everything we do, in our everyday lives, so it makes perfect sense that it is everywhere in the world.