With Techquartier, a bridge between Germany and Italy

One of the innovation hubs with which we work with is Techquartier, located in Frankfurt. In this interview, the managing director Sebastian Shafer tells us about its activities with the startups and what he expects from the MoU signed with Fintech District last November, during the Salone dei Pagamenti.

What is Techquartier’s mission? what are your key values?

As an innovation hub, our mission at TechQuartier’s is to empower people with tools and technologies that will help them drive innovation. We believe entrepreneurship is the core competence of the 21st century, and our mission is to unleash these entrepreneurial forces through the most accessible and impactful innovation experience possible. Our key values are diversity, authenticity, curiosity and risk-taking, self-reinvention and adaptiveness, and most important of all, playfulness!

What activities do you offer for fintech startups?

We work closely with our partners – global financial institutions, consulting firms, universities, and even a football club – to co-create acceleration programs which fintech startups can access. These are free of charge, and no equity is taken. During these programs, which range from 3 days to 3 months, they meet with corporate decision-makers, investors, regulators, mentors and other fintech founders to validate their business model, go-to-market strategy and potentially, enter into collaboration with them. We also provide access to very affordable workspace in the heart of Frankfurt’s financial district, as well as to a growing number of international partner hubs.

What do you expect from the MoU with the Fintech District?

As with other international partners, we have very high expectations! The focus will be on action and tangible results. We want to be able, in a year from now, to clearly state examples of collaborations between our ecosystems, whether between corporates, startups, academics, experts or investors, Think visits, programs, events, proof of concepts, partnerships. We signed the MoU on the margins of the Salone dei Pagamenti, where I was talking this past November.  My topic was on how ‘How Fintech Hubs’ collaboration can increase European competitiveness‘. I came back to Frankfurt excited about the openness and vision of the Italian stakeholders who shared the stage with me.

How do you consider the Italian fintech ecosystem? Are there any types of fintech startups that are of particular interest to you?

Milano, just like Frankfurt, is a relatively young ecosystem, one that is full of promise. There is talent, there are corporate partners and banks eager to work with startups, there is a strong base of SME (which in Germany we refer to as the Mittelstand), there is a lot of expertise (in the case of Milano, especially in the payments area.) In our opinion, the Italian Fintech scene appears ripe for rapid growth. In terms of Fintech areas of interest, we are especially interested in predictive solutions, beyond banking, payments, process automation, as well as authentification and fraud detection for banking. The biggest tech focus is on Big Data and Artifical intelligence.

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Brains Group: interview with Nicola Occhinegro

Brains Group is a financial advisory for companies and corporations. It has been a fintech company right from its beginning thanks to its automatic evaluation system which allows for the collecting of data in all Italian and European databases for the evaluation of credit quality.

Brains Group is aimed at companies billing from a few million to a couple of hundreds of millions of euros, helping them to make management control in finance and financial marketing so as to allow them to present themselves in the best way possible to the financial community. It also supports them in searching for forms of financing that are best suited to the market situation and their growth prospects.

For several months, as CEO Nicola Occhinegro has pointed out, this company has implemented Finanza.tech, “the first portal in Italy, and perhaps also in Europe, that delivers these very complex services in a simplified and digital way”.

Companies can register with a click and get reports in a few hours. “There is also the possibility to share these reports via a link through Whatsapp with all stakeholders communicating their financial situation, credit rating and credit standing – adds Occhinegro – In addition to the reports, other important documents we produce are also provided, such as the management presentation, which helps to present the brand of companies to financial stakeholders “.

At the end of 2018 Brains Group became part of the Fintech District community and in the coming months aims to lead the Italian market in the digitization of the processes of financialization of companies, processes and services related to the financial world of Italian corporates

At present, this company does not operate abroad but is interested in what happens in the most advanced markets from the fintech point of view. “One of our main sources of information is the central credit register of the Bank of Italy – explains Occhinegro – for this reason, we are analyzing the central credit registers of various European countries, so as to then replicate our model in some other countries. We are particularly interested in Germany and Spain “.

If you wish to stay updated about news, events and initiatives of the Fintech District, subscribe to our newsletter HERE 

Mirware: interview with Corrado Roccazzella

Mirware is a company that deals with business intelligence applied to the world of interbank transactions. It extracts value-added information related to the characteristics of the bank’s customers to support commercial development and operational efficiency.

Since 2016 it has activated a benchmark service in the world of international payments and trade finance which 7 of the main Italian banking groups have joined

“The purpose of this activity – explains Corrado Roccazzella, Product Manager at Mirware – was to provide, at very low cost and with a very low technological impact, the tools which allowed banks to get used to read and interpret relevant phenomena to set up more effective, and gain greater awareness of, market dynamics through continuous comparison within significant peer groups”.

After gaining solid experience in the Italian market, Mirware began to explore the markets of France, Spain, and Russia in 2018. In 2019 it planned further activities to attack the main European markets.

Its solutions have no limit as far as commercial scalability is concerned as they are based on an approach that involves working on international standard messaging.

At the end of 2018 the company decided to enter the Fintech District: “we are convinced that this can give us the opportunity to access a community of very good counterparts who have developed vertical skills – explains Roccazzella – Thanks to the sharing of ideas and projects we can create new business opportunities attracting national and international counterparts interested in the potential of the fintechs”

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Equity crowdfunding: what’s new?

It’s the right time to talk about Equity Crowdfunding and we’ll do it on the 24th of January, during the first appointment of the year of “Talking Heads”, our event format dedicated to innovation, technology, and trends with the participation of leaders, startuppers, and experts in the sector.

Equity crowdfunding also allows small savers to buy shares of startups on authorized sites. It is growing globally and shows no signs to let up. 2018 was a special year for Equity Crowdfunding: € 30 million were raised just on the 10 major platforms in Italy alone.

2019 could also be a decisive year for this form of investment. This appears evident reading the maxi amendment made to the Italy budget law containing measures designed to create a high number of new technology companies and project the economy towards new structures enabled by technology.

The big news concerning Equity Crowdfunding as to do with the simplification of investments through crowdfunding portals meaning people can invest in bonds and debt instruments via online portals. This already takes place in many other countries and will also occur in the European Union when the Regulation on European Crowdfunding Service Providers will give its approval.

During the event “Talking Heads – Equity Crowdfunding: Italian & European Regulatory Frameworks”, together with lawyer Giovanni Cucchiarato (Partner @ DWF Italy), we will discover what is new in the Italian and European regulatory framework and what is the real effectiveness of this new legislation. Matteo Masserdotti, CEO of 200crowd, will explain why access to the capital market has never been easier. Giacomo Bertoldi, CEO of Walliance, will focus on equity crowdfunding in the Real Estate sector.

We look forward to seeing you on January 24th, sign up at this link!

“I think that we should distinguish between the general principle introduced by the new law, which is beneficial and with which I certainly agree, and the formulation of the rule, on which I have some doubts. In principle, extending the business perimeter of the online portals to debt instruments creates exciting opportunities. It offers to SMEs the possibility to raise new financial resources in a quicker and more affordable way compared to the traditional channels and allows crowdfunding portals to expand their business to the issuing of bonds and other debt instruments (in addition to the issuing of equity instruments).

However, the rule limits the possibility to subscribe to bonds or other debt instruments through the authorized portals “to professional investors and to specific categories of investors identified by Consob”. This limit, on the one hand, is not applicable to the (riskier) investments in equity, and, on the other hand, frustrates in practice the objective of the rule, since it is doubtful that professional investors will be actually interested in using online portals to make investments in bonds or other debt instruments issued by SMEs”

Giovanni Cucchiarato (DWF Italy) 

“I firmly believe that Italian fintech can benefit greatly from the use of equity crowdfunding. In addition to Soisy, companies like Revolut and TransferGo have also used this tool with incredible success. The market, personified by both consumers and investors, is looking for instruments that bring innovation and transparency to the market. Equity crowdfunding can, therefore, be extremely effective to convince consumers themselves to invest in fintech.

The same concept can be applied to SMEs in traditional sectors such as the restaurant business, real estate and retail in general. When there is a strong relationship between the product offered by a brand and the consumer, investment becomes a simple consequence “

Matteo Masserdotti (200Crowd)

Traditional forms of financing have an increasingly less significant presence on the market, due both to the difficulty of access and cumbersome bureaucracy in granting a loan. Crowdinvesting platforms have therefore arrived on the market to make alternative sources of funding accessible to SMEs. So far these platforms have raised over 50 million euros of investments, much more than a typical small Italian Venture Capital fund would”.

Giacomo Bertoldi (Walliance)

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K Linx: interview with Mario Farris

K Linx is an innovative platform for payment reconciliation. It deals with those processes that are normally carried out by the back office in manual mode and which concern the acknowledgement for each payment of the person paying and what he is paying in order to record the payment.

The platform automatically performs these operations. The greatest added value emerges in the sector of unstructured payments. These are payments that do not rely on specific references such as pre-printed bulletins, a MAV or an SDD but rather on free text descriptive reasons. Wire transfers represent the typical form of unstructured payment, but K Linx also automatically manages handwritten deposit slips.

The company is currently working to direct the IT components, that make up the platform, towards the development of neural networks. “It serves to emulate as much as possible the reasoning of a person in the analysis of payments especially those that are unstructured – explains founder Mario Farris – and to reduce as much as possible doubtful cases, meaning those in which the intervention of an operator is required”.

The K Linx team aims at creating a platform able to operate in total autonomy, in which human intervention is required only for monitoring correct operations but only from an IT operation point of view.

This company has an intrinsic vocation towards internationalization: in dealing with payments it knows the standards starting off from the European SEPA standard and the international SWIFT standard.

“We are very interested in presenting our platform in other countries of Europe and overseas,” says Farris, explaining that he has chosen to join the Fintech District community “to become part of an ecosystem where contamination takes place every day, both at the level of ideas, and at the level of technologies and strategies. It is a type of cooperation whose outcome can only be positive ”

Last November K Linx was among the startups that participated in the Salone dei Pagamenti, “a great experience” according to Farris who promises: “we will also return next year with important news, especially regarding developments in the neural networks

If you wish to stay updated about news, events and initiatives of the Fintech District, subscribe to our newsletter HERE 

Talent Day, with the Politecnico of Milan

Five companies selected by the Fintech District each prepared a biz.game on which more than 40 students from the Politecnico of Milan worked on for a month and a half. They presented their solution during the final event in which the winner was proclaimed. This was the Talent Day, co-organized by Fintech District and the Politecnico of Milan!

Created to promote opportunities for integration at a professional level, this initiative allowed students to get closer to and learn about the Fintech world, identifying the most important players and the diverse opportunities offered by the ecosystem. At the same time, by connecting Fintech companies in search of human capital with undergraduates, it served as a facilitator for the recruitment of young talents.

The companies involved – Fabrick, Wavenure, Splitty PayWalliance and Modefinance – developed a biz.game related to their own model and subsequently mentored the team along the way, guiding and supporting them during the development of biz.game. Each team had students coming from the Faculties of Management Engineering, Computer Science and Mathematics and having the profiles of Data Scientists, Project Managers, and Developers.

The young participants, who were enthusiastic about Talent Day, found the experience “an excellent opportunity to get involved and confront a new reality, looking for winning ideas”. Each case study was an adventure in itself but the biz.games were interesting with the tutors both present and motivating.

“I think the world of Fintech is a world with great prospects for future engineers – Daniele Marazzina, math professor at Politecnico of Milan, commented at the end of the event – this is why we wanted to allow our students to meet the world of startups and try to actually ‘touch’ and feel the job opportunities. The Fintech District was the ideal partner for this, together we were able to make the meeting of Polimi students with some very interesting Fintechs take place”.

If you wish to stay updated about news, events and initiatives of the Fintech District, subscribe to our newsletter HERE 

Lokky: interview with Paolo Tanfoglio

Lokky is an innovative startup that aims to serve micro and small entrepreneurs by offering specific insurance products for their business. Thanks to new technologies, this startup is able to analyze the needs of customers, understand their real insurance needs and make completely automatic matchings of the best products to cover the specific risks of their business.

CEO Paolo Tanfoglio explains the goal is to enter the market during the second quarter of 2019: “we are closing a round of fundraising of 300,000 euros and we aim to raise a further one and a half million capital in 2019 to support the growth of the activity “.

Lokky currently addresses small Italian entrepreneurs: professionals, freelancers, small traders, and specialized workers. The idea, however, adds Tanfoglio, “is to expand, enter the European market and continue to use the same technological platform to understand the insurance needs of customers”.

Last autumn, Lokky, became part of the Fintech District community with the aim of dealing with other similar companies, “both with startups working on the same customer segment, to have commercial synergies, and with other startups that can have functional technologies for our project to optimally serve our customers with new technologies”.

If you wish to stay updated about news, events and initiatives of the Fintech District, subscribe to our newsletter HERE 

Kellify: interview with Francesco Magagnini

Kellify is a startup whose distinctive character is artificial intelligence. It is a form of technology that can be used by anyone involved in investments to improve the predictive skills and transform goods that are sometimes typically illiquid such as art collectibles, vintage cars, raw materials or energy into alternative asset classes.

The company was born in mid-2017 and today has 16 people growing at the rate of 3 or 4 units per month thanks to the many women entrepreneurs who have chosen to join our team and play the most disparate roles: for instance products, data science, and marketing

Today Kellify is present both in Italy and in Sweden. CEO and Founder Francesco Magagnini tells us that in the early part of 2019 they will open an office in New York “to facilitate entry into the American market and to continue the talent acquisition strategy in the best global hubs”.

Magagnini has just returned from New York after taking part in Transform New York, a global innovation event. At the end of January, he will be at the Paris Fintech Forum and will take part in all the events of the Fintech District scheduled for the coming months

Kellify actually entered the Fintech District community in the Fall, an important step, according to Magagnini, “to enter into the heart of Italian and European fintech and take advantage of moments of aggregation and sharing with startup institutions and scale-up in the fintech sector.”

If you wish to stay updated about news, events and initiatives of the Fintech District, subscribe to our newsletter HERE 

Axyon: interview with Giacomo Barigazzi

Axyon is a company based in Modena and specialized in the use of artificial intelligence, particularly in that of deep learning applied to the financial sector. It currently offers two products: SynFinance, dedicated to the syndicated loan market, and IRIS dedicated to the world of asset allocation.

Giacomo Barigazzi, CCO of Axyon, explains that “both products are based on our own proprietary platform. We use it internally to be fast and effective in testing different models based on deep learning and finding what is optimal for the specific case in use “.

Last fall, Axyon closed an investment in which ING bank and Unicredit took part as well as some angel investors mainly involved for their networking

Last May a company, completely controlled by Axyon, was opened in England, “to better serve the market in Europe, especially for our product on syndicated loans” however Barigazzi explains that the objective, for the next year, is to extend their business in the United Statesthe following year in Asia.

2019 will also be the year in which Axyon increases its presence in Europe. For this reason, its team plans to take part in international events uniting the world of technology and the financial sector such as Money 20/20, in Amsterdam in June, and the Paris Fintech Forum, in January.

“We will also take part in all the events organized together with our partners IBM and Nvidia. These are important events because they offer us the opportunity to present our offer by directly speaking to the customer “.

Operating in areas of the financial sector that are difficult to reach, Axyon has also chosen to become part of the Fintech District community with a specific goal: “to seize all opportunities to get in touch with potential partners, investors and customers”.

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House4crowd: interview with Francesco Chechile

House4crowd is a real estate crowdfunding platform that aims to digitize real estate investments. Everyone can invest in the real estate market starting from 500 euros and choosing between different types of projects to create their own real estate portfolio with the aim of maximizing their performance.

This real estate crowdfunding platform has been authorized to operate by CONSOB as an equity crowdfunding portal in July 2018. The first projects will be published by the end of the year.

Last October, House4crowd became part of the Fintech District. CEO and co-founder Francesco Chechile considers it “the Italian reference point for the Fintech and Proptech sectors to which we belong”.

The House4crowd team aims to find in this community other startups and companies that can collaborate with its platform. For this young company, the aspect of networking and the idea of being able to get in touch and confront the whole Italian fintech ecosystem is also important.

Meanwhile, House4crowd is also taking action abroad developing partnerships with international companies and “we will also soon be able to see, among the proposed projects, also real estate transactions in the European and American markets”.

If you wish to stay updated about news, events and initiatives of the Fintech District, subscribe to our newsletter HERE