July-August 2016 The Fintech Times 1 TheFintechTimes.com July-August 2016 | £1 www..ntechweek.com THE 3RD ANNUAL JULY 15th-22nd SPONSORSHIPS AVAILABLE sponsor@@ntechweek.com +44 (0) 7909 915743 the Fintech Times THE WORLD’S FINTECH NEWSPAPER Fintech Week is here Fintech Week is back and bigger than ever. Brexit and the future of fintech What was your Brexit strategy? Didn’t have one? Not to worry, no one else did either. APIs are good medicine RBS has been formulating its API strategy over the past few months. Moneyconf Grace Systems crowned MoneyConf’s best startup. Will London remain the capital of fintech? YES — London will remain the leading fintech hub. BUT — Will face increased challenges. How to get investors chasing you: the owner of a fintech business 4 key strategies for building your fintech business in a way that provides investors with the certainty they expect from a fintech venture. Attacks against financial services firms Why is it happening, and what can be done about it? Israel: The Rise of the Fintech Hybrid An examination of the rise of the Israeli Fintech sector. "p. 2 "p. 3 "p. 6 "p. 9 "p. 11 "p. 12 "p. 13 "p. 17 Not to worry, no one else had one either. "p. 3 What was your Brexit strategy? 16 The Fintech Times July-August 2016 After Iceland had beaten England in the European Football Championship I was reminded of a Barclays TVcommercial from 2000 where Anthony Hopkins explains why 'a big world needs a big bank'. It’s a great commercial, and even though it’s 16 years old and we have had two serious global crises in since then, there is nothing out-dated about its message. On the contrary, since 2000 global GDP has almost doubled and the big banks have become even bigger. The four largest banks in America are now 150 per cent bigger than the next 50 banks combined, and in the UK the four biggest banks control 85 per cent of the market. This trend towards consolidating financial infrastructure is ubiquitous. New figures from Denmark, for instance, show that since 2008 the 10 biggest banks have gone from being 5 times to 9 times bigger than the rest. It’s been going on for a very long time. But maybe being big isn’t as important in the future as we think, which the plucky footballers from tiny Iceland have reminded us about. Maybe the big dream of economies of scale is a relic of the 20th century. Look at Iceland, it has a population the size of a London borough, the country went bankrupt in 2009 but 7 years later it has paid its debt and regained full employment. The country did not need an EU for that. For Iceland, being small was the reason why they managed. Maybe we should look at fintech and banking from this new perspective. Investments in fintech have grown tenfold over 5 years, and last year alone 20 billion dollars were invested in new fintech ventures that were supposed to disrupt and revolutionise the financial services industry. It hasn’t really happened, has it? The fintech revolution has made big banks bigger and small banks smaller, and new fintech startups have only won a few per cent of the total banking revenues. Market disruption seems a consumer generation away to me. Fintech is in the process of automating banking, but the winners are the big banks and the losers the small banks and their local communities. From this perspective fintech has failed locally. Indeed, a new Scottish report, ‘Banking for Common Good’, states that continued consolidation of the banking industry is starving local communities. 1,500 local communities in the UK have no access to banking, and as the physical distance between banks and local communities increases, small and medium sized enterprises are desperately seeking funding to grow their businesses and stimulate local job creation. The global economy, the technology companies and the mega banks have embraced fintech intelligently and are back in control after the financial crisis. Through their fintech funds, along with their incubators and accelerators, they are honing new talents and business models. Fintech has – with exceptions – become a cheap tool to make big systems even bigger. TIME TO MAKE FINTECH SMALL by NILS ELMARK Consulting futurist, www.bankinglab.london Special Counsel, Adv. Roy Keidar of Yigal Arnon & Co. Law Firm examines the rise of the Israeli fintech sector. Israel is globally known as the 'startup nation', a small country that has developed a rich ecosystem in which thousands of startup companies are creating new and innovative technologies. What it is less known for is its financial system. Israel’s small size and distance from global financial centres such as NY, London, or Zurich, are significant barriers to further growing such a financial market. Over the last few years, however, a growing presence of Israeli ventures has been evident in major business deals, investments, conferences, as well as global media coverage. Considering that the Israeli financial system has yet to show outstanding activity (2015 was a good fiscal year, but not exceptional), the key to such advancements may be the vibrant, creative and fast-growing fintech industry, driving technological solutions to one of the most conservative and highly regulated industries in the world. Since 2009, the Israeli Fintech industry has experienced a meteoric rise. Starting with 90 startups, the industry has grown tremendously to become a global leader over a 6-year period, quintupling its size, reaching 430 companies, 60 of which having raised about $370m in 2014. During this period, a stellar number of 14 R&D centers were established by global companies, joined by bottom-up efforts by local entrepreneurs, lawyers and other professionals. This forward thrust has been felt at every meet-up, cocktail event and conversation. Even more surprising than its sheer size, the local fintech industry is diverse, with startups operating in almost every financial sector, including Payments, Trading, Lending, Anti-Fraud, and Insurance. On all fronts, startups offer relatively simple solutions to complex financial problems. eToro, for instance, maintains its position ISRAEL: The Rise of the Fintech Hybrid FUTURE INTERNATIONAL This is the same philosophy the computer industry had in the 70s and 80s; thanks to technical innovation they were then able to build still more powerful mainframe computers and centralise data processing. Steve Jobs changed all that in 1984 with his Macintosh. He realised that new technology not only made it possible to create bigger IT-systems, it also made it possible to build them small and decentralise data processing away from mainframes; and while the rest of the world slept he proved his point once more in 2007 when he launched his iPhone, only this time decentralised computing came pocket-size. In the last five years we have seen fintech used as a tool to succeed in a global economy. The potential of fintech is constantly measured in unicorns and billions, which is understandable if you are a big bank or a venture capitalist looking for the nearest exit. But for local communities it’s more important to have patient capital that will fund a new restaurant or a small bicycle shop. Few fintech investors have taken the local community banking market seriously. The local banks certainly haven’t. Where are the venture funds that specialise in local banking? I can’t find them. Where are the incubators that develop new financial community models? And where are the people from small financial institutions at fintech conferences? They are absent. On the fintech scene the agenda is set by the geeks and investors from Silicon Valley and Tech City, as well as the international banks. It is about time we looked at fintech from a community perspective because new financial technologies such as crowdfunding, p2p lending, mobile payments, AI, advanced algorithms and blockchain technology will work just as well in a local environment as in a global. We have to make it a priority. as a highly successful trading platform, while in the payments sector, companies such as Paybox are providing novel ways to circumvent the traditional bank payments system. Within this vibrant financial ecosystem, one technology in particular stands out in its disruptive potential: the Blockchain technology, best known as the technology behind Bitcoin. A recent report, authored by the global consulting company Deloitte, describes 38 Israeli startups currently working on various applications of the Blockchain technology, ranging across the entire spectrum of services: security, hardware, new July-August 2016 The Fintech Times 17 by Special Counsel, Adv. ROY KEIDAR, with assistance from Arod Balissa currency, payments, P2P, online commerce and social platforms. Israeli expertise in cryptography and Big Data gained in the world of security and defense is now proving itself useful in the financial world, allowing for better, safer and more efficient ways to perform trusted transactions without intermediaries. Taking a close look at the structure of the Israeli market reveals a relatively small, local financial market with Traditional Financial Institutions (TFIs), which are comprised of a small number of players such as the major Israeli banks, insurance companies and institutional investors. These are often perceived by the public as slow-moving and conservative. Rigid regulatory constraints add insult to injury, providing TFIs with little wiggle-room. In contrast, but also in tandem, Israel is rich with highly experienced and gifted human capital, which has resulted in Israel taking shape as a Hi-Tech superpower, and continuing to lead the world in Cybersecurity and nascent fields, such as Big Data and Machine Learning. There is little room for doubt that the global impact of fintech on TFIs is substantial, and it emerges at troubling times for the incumbents: TFIs are heavily regulated worldwide, while simultaneously the trust level in TFIs in a post-2008 world is dropping. On the consumer front, TFIs appear slow and unattractive in comparison to the agility and glamour of Silicon Valley startups, while tech giants, such as Facebook, Amazon and Google, are much more adept at tailoring services and products, financial or otherwise, albeit doing so by leveraging personal information of their customers. These giants prefer to brand themselves as innovative and inspiring, leaving the bureaucracy to TFIs. As Richard Summerfield argues, the rise of the Millennials only exacerbates the mistrust in TFIs, increasingly perceived as unnecessary middlemen. We have, after all, become accustomed to eliminating the middlemen with Uber and Airbnb. Why not do so in banking? These global trends, for better or worse, seem to play out differently in Israel. First, there is no place to hide: there is constant friction between risk-taking and disruptive startups on the one hand, and TFIs and regulators on the other. The Israeli ecosystem is full of networking events, accelerators, incubators, hubs, conferences and symposiums, providing ample opportunities for VCs, startups and TFI executives to meet and develop relationships. While the heightened interest in fintech is new, the type of process that is taking place is not. We have seen it before in Cybersecurity. The Israeli ecosystem is merely perfecting yet another child prodigy. There is another — some may say surprising — catalyst present: lawyers and accountants are bridging the gap between conservative TFIs and agile startups, whether it is by navigating through the regulatory requirements or helping innovative technology to penetrate the market, and often providing valuable opportunities and solving problems. Equally novel is the support and enthusiasm coming from local and international INTERNATIONAL banks: from Bank Leumi’s ‘Elevator’ to Bank Ha’Poalim’s cooperation with Microsoft Ventures, these TFIs provide support to promising candidates in the form of funding, access, connections and guidance. This may seem counterintuitive. It is easier to imagine banks lobbying against those who challenge their quintessential business model. However, with increasing pressure from clients to cross the Digital Divide on the one hand, and faced with regulatory headache on the other, Israeli TFIs understand that they have much more to gain from working with fintech ventures than by working against them. What about the Israeli regulator? Although present at the table, through funding and support provided by the Office of the Chief Scientist and the Ministry of Treasury, regulation remains a significant barrier to entry. Israeli banks have been under close scrutiny by the regulator to ensure the stability of the financial institutions, even in times of global crisis (the relatively mild effects of the 2008 financial crisis on the Israeli market is a prominent example). However, requirements such as holding minimal capital and licensing requirements makes it harder on new small platforms to enter the market, throwing them into the open arms of the TFIs. With that in mind, finding the correct approach to the growing fintech industry remains one of the big dilemmas faced by the regulator, which is often slow and conservative, especially with respect to banking. But the pressure to adapt to these technologies within the existing regulatory environment is there, and is felt on all fronts, as evidenced by the unlikely alliance between the regulator, TFIs and the startup ecosystem. Looking ahead at the future of the Israeli fintech industry it seems that there is still work to be done. Many of today’s startups are only in initial stages of proof of concept, while TFI-Startup integration is still in its infancy. Although TFIs may have promising technology at their disposal, they will still have to find their way forward. While doing so, they will struggle to find the right balance between maintaining their attractiveness to tech-loving millennials and the need to work with conservative, risk-averse, financial institutions. The inevitable outcome may be a hybrid — the brainchild of experienced yet conservative executives and innovative entrepreneurs — that will pave the road for a technologically-agile, user-friendly yet regulated financial system.