The Barclays Accelerator, a program for fintech startups presented by Barclays and Techstars, has announced that they are expanding their program to Tel Aviv, Israel, and Cape Town, South Africa. Already open for new applicants, the programs are expected to begin in 2016. The new centers follow programs established in New York and London.
The addition of Tel Aviv and Cape Town mark an interesting expansion for the Barclays Accelerator beyond locations known for being financial hubs. However, both cities do offer a base of technology startups that are involved in key areas of fintech growth.
With regard to Israel, Barclays operates a financial technology R&D center for their internal development. In addition, the local Tel Aviv office is known to be active participants with the overall Israeli technology scene, and monitor local startups for up and coming technology related to the financial field. As a result, Israel has been included in previous recruiting trips by Techstars as they interviewed applicants for the London and New York fintech accelerators. Among firms from Israel that are currently participating in the Barclays Accelerator is Wayerz.
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Providing a breeding ground for an emerging group of fintech startups in sectors such as personal finance, trading and blockchain technology, Israel is known to have attracted attention within the fintech sector for its slew of cyber security related firms. As a result, cyber security was specifically cited as an area of interest during previous Barclays Accelerator programs recruitment trips in Israel.
Africa has become a leader in multiple areas of payments innovation
As for Cape Town, the city was chosen as South Africa (and indeed greater Africa) has become a leader in multiple areas of payments innovation. With much of the continent lacking computers, the internet is reaching the hands of users in the form of mobile phones. As a result, rather than existing financial products being adapted to fit mobile devices, in Africa mobile is the initial method by which much of the population is gaining exposure to banking solutions for the first time.
This trend has led to a fast growing fintech market in Africa which includes innovation for mobile payments, financial inclusion and mobile based banking and loans. With the launch of the Barclays Accelerator in Cape Town, fintech innovation that is focused on regional solutions would be expected to become major components of the program.