Israel is set to get its own fintech hub with the launch of The Floor today in Tel Aviv. The initiative is headed by Gil Devora, Avi Cohen and Moises Cohen, and includes financial backing from the Pando Group, a Chinese venture capital fund. Also partnering with The Floor are several multi-national banks that have been increasing their involvement in the fintech sector, both in Israel and globally, including Banco Santander, HSBC, RBS and Intesa Sanpaolo.
Similar to initiatives in London and Sydney that house Level39 and Stone & Chalk respectively, The Floor launches with an aim to be more than just another fintech accelerator, but a true hub to cultivate the entire fintech eco-system in Israel. Like other hubs, The Floor will include resources for fintech startups such as co-working spaces, mentorship, access to venture capital, introductions to larger financial firms and an R&D center. For larger firms and investment funds, The Floor is set to provide a platform for them to learn more about the local fintech scene, for both investment purposes and collaboration.
Speaking with Moises Cohen about what led to the creation of The Floor, he explained that there are gaps in the current fintech eco-system that the initiative wants to solve. Cohen said that “Israelis are very strong in the fintech sector with 400 firms”. But he added: “lacking is exposure to international banks”.
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As a result, Cohen explained that there is plenty of fintech innovation taking place in Israel and companies have access to capital, but to really succeed startups need to forge relationships with their customers; typically large banks and multi-national financial firms. To solve this problem, Cohen stated that they are creating The Floor “to be in the middle between eco-system and international banks”.
According to Cohen, to help provide value to its partner banks and investors, The Floor will focus on startups that fit the sector themes chosen by their partners. The themes are focused on areas of interest to partners as well as sectors that provide the best value to startups. Currently, themes include digital banks, blockchain technology, compliance and internet of things (IoT) innovation that relates to finance.
Backing the program and providing the initial capital is Pando Group. A Chinese venture capital firm, Cohen explained that in addition to investing in The Floor, Pando is using the opportunity to help it secure deal flow for future investments. Cohen added however that Pando isn’t expected to be a passive partner, and will help “build the bridge between Israel and Asia”. Regarding this goal, Cohen explained that Asia is currently the fastest growing market for fintech investments and “where things are happening”.
With its wider target of connecting multiple segments of the financial industry, The Floor includes resources for various types of companies. For early stage firms, The Floor is accepting applications for resident membership, where startups can work in the program’s offices and take part in the Fintech Academy being provided to entrepreneurs, as well as receiving on-site mentorship.
The Floor will also contain non-resident members such as larger startups that have their own offices in place but can leverage resources from The Floor to help them develop their businesses. Launch startup members include an array of early stage and later growth teams such as BondIT, AlgoValue, Cambiu, Neema and Covercy.