Examining Fintech Funding Activity in Early 2016

The good news for financial technology, and indirectly for the whole financial sector, is everywhere.

Alessandro Ravanetti is co-founder and CMO of Crowd Valley, a global fintech company providing Digital Back Office and public API that enables the transition from an offline investing or lending model to an online native application such as peer to peer investing and lending, real estate and alternative asset marketplaces for financial services professionals.

After the impressive numbers of 2015, when investment in fintech startups rose by 75% (+ $9.6 billion), to $22.3 billion, the feeling was that the sector was beginning to cool down a bit. Contrary to predictions, the fintech funding slowdown has officially not happened, with venture capital investment rebounding to a record high in the first months of 2016.

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According to Accenture, more than $50 billion has been invested in about 2,500 digital finance ventures since 2010. Worldwide investment in financial technology companies in Q1 2016 (between January 1 and March 31) reached $5.3 billion, with a 67% increase year-over-year. The growth has been largely sustained by investment in companies based in Europe and in the Asia-Pacific region, with the percentage of investment in these regions (62% of the total) almost doubling since the same period of 2015.

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The APAC region, in particular, has seen unprecedented growth, with fintech investment quadrupling in 2015 to $4.3 billion. The good times for the area include the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) announcing important new initiatives earlier in April to boost the country’s position as a global hub for digital finance, and Alibaba’s Ant Financial that successfully raised $4.5 billion, making it fintech’s largest private placement. The expectations for the months ahead are now pretty high.

Another key point emerging from the Accenture report is that fintech companies, defined as collaborative ventures targeting financial institutions as clients, are getting more attention over the players, defined as the “disruptors”, that enter the industry to compete against those institutions. Since 2010 the percentage of funding for collaborative fintech companies in the US rose from 40% to 60% of all fintech investment.

As stated in the report, the “disruptors” usually compete against banks and financial institutions at first, but later on they tend to align with them with investments, partnerships and acquisitions. It was just two weeks back that BlackRock made an investment of £12.7 million in Funding Circle, with similar activity mirrored by companies such as Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan.

What’s clear now is that the two sides, established financial players and fintech startups, have started to understand that they need each other, with the former realizing that they have no alternative but to innovate if they don’t want lose out and the latter needing to scale their operations to grow.

Through my work with leading banks, I can see the amount of investment being made into new cutting edge technologies and new ways of providing services. It’s not just about the increased amount of funding, the good news for financial technology, and indirectly for the whole financial sector, is everywhere.

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