At Fintech District we aim at generating value for the Italian fintech ecosystem by spurring collaboration among its members. We strongly believe that only by leveraging the overall ecosystem competiveness each member can eventually succeed. During the first few months of the Fintech District we worked hard to build up the community that is now made of 46 fintech companies (and counting…) and a growing number of stakeholders (like incumbents, VC, …). More than that, on top of recurring networking events, we have organized and hosted workshop on fintech-related topics (from ICOs to RegTech) as well as private demo day for match-making Corporates and Fintechs.
So, what’s next?
We are working on an ambitious pipeline of initiatives for the upcoming months down the path of knowledge sharing, open innovation, international visibility and capital attraction.
Today we are happy to share with you a preview of the first one of these initiatives.
We are about to launch the beta version of the Fintech District’s mentorship program (hey, believe it or not but we are a startup too). The program wants to create connections between professional, willing to share their knowledge and strengthening their skills by working on innovation topics, and Fintech startups/scaleups facing challenges down the road to success.
We take knowledge sharing very seriously since we safeguard both the Fintechs and the professionals time. We are pooling high-level professionals (the mentorship team) with deep vertical expertise on various topics that can deliver quality advices (e.g. Corporate Law, Corporate Finance, Regulatory policies, Human Resources, Strategy, Enterprise Architecture, …) and we ensure that support request will be addressed to the most relevant expertise.
Do you want to know more about the program? Are you interested in joining the mentorship team and what’s “in it for me” by being a mentor? Do you have comments/suggestions in order to make the mentorship program more relevant? Do you already have “pain points” you would like to address to the mentors?
Please write us at firstname.lastname@example.org or come and talk to us at L12 in Copernico Isola for S32; we will be more than happy to hear from you on this or any other matter that can be impactful on the ecosystem.
Keep following us in order to stay updated on the next steps.
The Fintech District
Stefania Antonio Mico Marco
Supernovae Labs is testing its model abroad, starting from the Middle East and from Switzerland, and is going to activate its own innovation hub, “an observatory on innovation produced by banks and by corporations”. Carlo Giugovaz is the CEO of this service company specialized in leveraging the innovation brought by startups to transform the corporate business models and to capture the best investment opportunities in the initial phases. Giugovaz defines Supernovae Labs as “a boutique specialized in banking innovation with the ambition to become one of the engines of the renewal of the sector, thanks to our team and to a network of business technology and innovation professionals”.
Its team is currently made up of 12 experts divided into 5 areas (retail, corporate, wealth management, HR and Legal) and SupernovaeLabs can also rely on 15 partnerships with associations, university incubators and specialists in the field of innovation and on a portfolio of over 50 companies between digital and fintech startups. Already in touch with almost two thirds of Italian banks, Giugovaz plans to conclude almost all contacts within the first six months of 2018. “With some banks we are already in advanced negotiations to implement these projects”, he explains, by adding that “we are expanding our offer to other markets too, starting from the Middle East and from Switzerland to test our model abroad. Soon we will activate our innovation hub: an observatory on innovation produced by banks and also by corporates”.
Supernovae Labs currently cover three markets: the fintech, the banking and the investor, offering fintech realities the possibility to create a specific value proposition for the banking sector and to be offered to banks in order to increase commercial development and to raise capital. For banks, SuperNovae Labs is like an observatory regarding the world of innovation, both in banks and in fintech ecosystem. It also offers banks specialized services to create or implement innovation and, at the same time, it provides investors services like opportunity seeking, fintech portfolio management and the possibility of making industrial partnerships.
According to Giugovaz, Fintech District “is an ideal place for those whose core business, like us, is banks and fintech companies. It is certainly a place that is giving international visibility to Milan and to Italy in the fintech context and in general”. Next steps of this fintech community based in the financial heart of Milan? The first one could be to invest in increasing the level of interaction between the fintech companies themselves, “which means trying to create opportunities for mutual contamination”. The second step could be to increase the involvement of the institutional players, “not only banks but also all the other institutions such as insurance companies, corporates and institutional players that are on the market”.
As a Fintech “ante litteram”, MutuiOnLine on 27 of February, during a visit to Fintech District, met five startups of our community. This was an “open and social way” to “keep our entrepreneurial spirit and our innovation streams alive” as Alessandro Fracassi, CEO and co-founder of the company, explained after the meeting which has taken place in our headquarter located in Copernico for Isola S32. In this interview the CEO of MutuiOnLine tells about the experience and the perspectives and opportunities opened up by this meeting.
How did you find the format of the meeting you attended, organized by Fintech District?
Twenty years ago MutuiOnline was a venture backed startup, who set sail to disrupt the market of credit origination in Italy, by introducing technology in the way mortgages and loans are distributed and in the processes to underwrite them. For all purposes, we were a Fintech “ante litteram”. We need to keep understanding and leveraging the way that technology can transform the way we do business. Exposing our top management to companies that are small but on the leading edge, is key to keep our entrepreneurial spirit and our innovation streams alive. The open and “social” way in which we did this at the Fintech District can be very effective.
In becoming better informed about our startups, what have you found most impressive in their activities and in their way of working?
We were looking for companies using AI and/or blockchains as their innovation engine, and our meeting was right on target. I was impressed not only by the innovation drive but also by the high level of ambition of most of the companies we met.
Would be interested in taking part in any more meetings like this, regularly organized by Fintech District?
As I said, this kind of meetings can be a key “seeding” element of our innovation stream and corporate venture activities. Obviously it cannot be the only element.
From your point of view, what might be in the future the role of Fintech District in the Italian fintech ecosystem?
Successful innovation is not a steady flow. It will always experience moments of acceleration around “catalyst ideas” or “catalyst companies” which will consolidate around them human and financial resources. Other ideas and companies will be left behind or consolidated into the successful stream. It a positive and natural way in which ecosystems evolve. Fintech District can facilitate this process at a local level and give our ecosystem a level of scale that allows its integration in a wider European system.
Winner of the AIFIn award, the Golden Circle award, “as a company that makes evolution, change and innovation its focus”, Walliance is ready to present its platform in a new version, in two languages, on the 2nd of May in London within the “Future: PropTech”, a European event dedicated specifically to the digital development of real estate.
Founded on 18 July 2016 and officially launched on 12 September 2017, Walliance joined Fintech District in November. “Being part of this community for us means being inside a structure that gives us the possibility to create new partnerships in an area where networking is very important – claims Giacomo Bertoldi, Founder and CEO of Walliance – Within the Milan ecosystem, this surely allows us to grow faster thanks to the companies we deal with, every day in Fintech District”.
Walliance is the first Italian equity crowdfunding platform entirely dedicated to real estate that allows anyone who wants to invest in this sector starting from very small amount of money, from EU 500, “and investors can select from time to time the real estate project that they consider the most valid one”.
This platform, created and managed by a nine-member team with an average age of 38, is open to real estate projects all over the world. “We have recently launched a real estate project in the United States, in Manhattan – explains Bertoldi – During these months, we are focusing on quickly become international”. On the 2nd of May, Walliance will present its platform in two languages, in London, within the “Future: PropTech”, a European event dedicated specifically to the digital development of real estate, “the place to be” to explore global market opportunities.
Waiting for May, last week Bertoldi and his team received the AIFIn award, the Golden Circle award, “we had the chance to be selected among the winning fintech companies, it is certainly very important recognition for us because it is dedicated to all those companies that make evolution, change and innovation their focus”.
“We can finally accept the paper identity card. This is one of the major improvements we have done this year and that was our Achilles’ heel in 2017” particularly in Italy, where the electronic identification pass, as everyone here knows, has not yet become widespread. For Matteo Concas, General Manager Italy at N26, this development of the identification system is very important, of course, but it is also fundamental for all N26, a mobile bank located in 17 countries, that now has half a million customers all over Europe, Italy makes up 10% of this figure and it is “one of the main countries, a core market”. “ We see that there is a huge need for new banking experiences, more transparency even in costs and that really could improve people’s everyday life – explains Concas – We want to grow and reach 2 or 3 million customers at European level in the coming years and strategically this year we are working to enter the UK and the USA”.
With N26, Europe’s first Mobile Bank with a full European banking license, users receive a Mastercard to pay cashless or withdraw cash all around the world, with a simple click they can block or unblock their card and send money instantly to friends and contacts: “What we want to do – claims Concas – is to redefine the user experience in accessing these services. People can access the services we offer in real time and through a much simpler user experience compared to traditional banks”.
Opening a new bank account takes only 8 minutes video conference and can be done directly from a smartphone, at home. “We recently redesigned the identification system that is no longer in video conference with 8 minutes. We kept the 8 minutes, but it will be by sending a picture of yourself and a photo of the identity document, and by filling in the classic fields of the initial form”.
Founded in 2015, in Germany, N26 is one of several foreign companies interested to open itself up to the Italian world, “Fintech District is the perfect neuralgic point for a company like ours”. Be a member of the community, it’s not just being “in the centre of Milan, in the most strategically important place from the point of view of startups and finance”, it is so much more.
“In this hub I can meet other players for potential partnerships and for comparison, to mutually learn. In the fintech field, although there are some players with whom we are competing, in itself, we are competing the most with the less digitalized world” explains Concas. What Fintech District members have to do, according with him, is “to create more awareness of digital services that improve people’s lives and all together, although sometimes against each other, we increase the market. Fintech District also from the outside, for people who do not know this new world, is a way to open the door to technology that is sometimes seen as a threat”. For Concas, and for N26, “this is the best way to start the adventure in Italy, in a community that really helps you take a step towards the future”.
SME loan marketplace Lendix enters Germany and the Netherlands, will be fully operational in 5 countries by year end, this means that “Italian investors will have at their disposal a wider choice of companies to invest in. Not only Italian, French and Spanish SMEs but also German and Dutch one” explains Sergio Zocchi, SEO of Lendix Italy.
“This will be for all of us a challenge, regulatory, fiscally, in terms of technology and from a language point of view. Our aims? – adds – To streamline and make it easier for everyone in Europe to invest in companies, with a few click from a smartphone or a computer”
At the end of January in Italy the total amount invested accounted for EUR 9,9 million compared to around EUR 718K in redemptions to investors and EUR 151K in interests reimbursed to investors. The projects received and examined have been somewhat over 15.000, of which 24 accepted and actually funded. “Italy is a burgeoning market for Lendix but with a huge potential – comments Zocchi – our goals for next year are certainly very ambitious”
More details here
“It has been an exceptional experience for me, to present Credit Passport at the Paris Fintech Forum” said Alessio Balduini, CEO of Credit Data Research. On 30 January he was on stage at this flagship event for the Fintech community to discuss with more than 2600 people from 45 countries about how PSD2 and Open banking will bring innovation a great opportunity for SMEs credit access.
Founded in 2013 and launched in 2014, Credit Data Research provides innovative tools for SMEs, like its Credit Passport, that wish to enhance their access to sources of funding, to improve transparency in dealing with business partners and customers together with facilitating their entry into and management of foreign markets. “Entrepreneurs, with their creativeness– adds Balduini – have experienced new ways to use our Credit Passport, increasing their effectiveness and adding value in generating a greater volume of business”
More than 4000 companies currently use the Credit Passport, a tool that in 2016 15 banks of different sizes used and promoted towards their business customers. After winning the 2017 international competition “Open Up challenge”, promoted by principal banks in UK to accelerate the PSD2 introduction, this year Credit Data Research, in connection with the PSD2 implementation, with its Credit Passport, “is ready to provide to SMEs, banks and credit platforms, the first real-time credit score. Our API – explains Balduini – makes it possible to connect to the service in a flexible way. We’re already working with banks and platform to integrate Credit Passport in real time”.
At the beginning of this year, for Open Banking opening, on 13 of January, Credit Data Research was the first in EU recognised by the Financial Conduct Authority as an Account Information Service Provider supplying credit scoring. In the second quarter of 2018 this company plans to open in Germany. At the moment it is present in France, Spain and Italy where it is also a member of Fintech District, “an excellent example of how we can innovate and communicate in this country” according to Balduini. “Fintech District demonstrates Italian will catch up in the European landscape to foster innovation in the financial segment, a key area that needs creativeness and inventiveness”
The Italian InsurTech startup RiskApp was been selected in early 2018 to participate to the Fintech Innovation Lab, promoted by Accenture in London, to allow its customers, therefore insurance companies and banks active in the Bancassurance sector, to offer innovative services and products. Happy to be part of the small group of startups that have been selected after a very hard and demanding process, Federico Carturan CEO of RiskApp, sees in this program “incredible opportunities for the development of our company”.
Distributed as a service software and aimed to insurers offering their products in the small and medium-sized business field, this platform helps insurance agents and brokers to offer advice to their clients. “We highlight the risks and exposures that companies have and then we also provide all the tools to go mitigate these risks or transfer them to the insurance market” explains Carturan and, about his early days in the Accenture program, he points out that “we have been already in contact with the high level managers of the main insurance companies and we proposed our solution to them, explaining what the impact could be in terms of values”. Just to name a few: RSA, Zurich and also XL Catlin. Not a bad start! Waiting to meet the other main players in the insurance market in the small and medium-sized businesses sector, thanks to the Accenture team RiskApp in Fintech Innovation Lab can also develop its unique sales proposition, working on how to communicate the value of its platform. Which one? “We are able to impact on the various KPIs of insurance companies such as reducing the costs of the assessment because we reduce ten times the current cost, so we go from a few thousand euros to a few hundred euros” Carturan explains. He then goes on to add: “We also improve risk assessment because, by entering the business process, we are able to increase four times the number of risks that are inspected by the company. Finally, we also increase our industry sales by 20% thanks to the advice our platform is able to make”
Ready to take every opportunity offered by this experience in London, Carturan as a member of Fintech District, “is very pleased to be part of this community to help the growth of the innovation community in the world of fintech and of insurtech. The real theme of innovation is the development of the ecosystem and the ecosystem consist by the people who create it and are part of it. Fintech District is the first initiative in Italy able to create this ecosystem and this synergy”.
“Magic Wand” is the first accelerating programme dedicated to the FinTech and the InsurTech sectors created in collaboration with Fintech District and managed by Digital Magics together with 10 partners (BNL BNP Paribas Group, Credito Valtellinese, Ersel Investimenti, Innovation Center of Intesa Sanpaolo, Innogest, Poste Italiane, SellaLab, SisalPay , Royal Mutual Assets Company and UBI Banca). They have actively participate in the selection and they are going to participate in mentorship and development of the winning startups.
On 15 of January 2018 in the Fintech District building S32, 8 of the 10 projects selected have been announced and presented. These startups will receive a first grant of 5.000 Euros and the acceleration of 6 months in the Milan office of Digital Magics incubator.
The aim of Magic Wand is to create an Italian centre of excellence for the most important market operators, as explained by Gabriele Ronchini, founder and CEO of Digital Magics.
Among the over 50 original business ideas for the financial and insurance market submitted, the first 8 selected were: #InvestFT, Axieme, Cloudesire, Coverholder, DIAMAN Tech, Moneymour, MyCreditService and Spreadoff.
The programme starts with a two months acceleration period during which dozens of advisors will be available the many training opportunities, courses, workshops and masterclasses. After this first step, there will be a second selection that will elect the 6 best startups that will conclude the 6 months of Magic Wand acceleration programme.
Finalist startups will receive a second grant of 15,000 Euros and will have the opportunity to be part of the Digital Magics incubator, starting a high valuable course. SellaVentures (Banca Sella Group), Innogest, Neva Finventures (Intesa Sanpaolo Group) and Digital Magics also decided to reserve the possibility of investing in the Magic Wand finalist startups that will have achieved the set goals and the KPIs.
Let’s introduce here the first 8 winning startups, in alphabetical order.
#InvestFT is a robo-advisor of alternative-finance investments, connecting in a single place all the opportunities supplied by Italian ad European platforms relating to Peer to Peer Lending, equity crowdfunding, invoice trading and real estate crowdfunding.
Axieme provides an innovative service to supply insurance with a social mechanism. Customers buy their insurance with a group of people with similar needs. Risks are spread, by sharing information within the community, and if there are no accidents, users get a refund.
Cloudesire is a Cloud Monetization and Brokering Platform that enables automated SaaSification and immediate distribution of Business Applications. Financial players and service providers, with its services, can help their clients more effectively.
Coverholder is a tech startup that aims to simplify, integrate and customize the insurance brokerage process. Its IT technical team has developed a web platform for insurance underwriting activity, aiming to optimize the intermediary’s user experience. Through an integrated system of algorithms Coverholder has achieved a very high level of efficiency and dramatically reduced the timing related to quote and policy issuance cycle.
DIAMAN Tech is an Italian innovative startup that develops technological solutions to help asset managers in reducing risk and finding new opportunities in the financial markets. With its financial web-based platform, this startup supports their customers in the investment decision-making processes, using as provider for funds data feed FIDA in the EXANTE platform.
Moneymour provides instant financing for eCommerce purchases. Its payment methods allow people to buy now and pay later. The customer can choose in full simplicity and transparency, the decision is taken instantly through a powerful proprietary algorithm that calculates the credit risk and the risk of fraud by taking into account credit history and thousands of other social and behavioural variables on the client’s web site.
MyCreditService is a startup that developed the first platform for managing the entire working capital cycle in a single solution.
Spreadoff is a solution that allows travellers to exchange rate-free currency with peer to peer solutions within their community.
Product improvement, to deliver a better user experience, and another gear in marketing and communication activities. These are the ways in which Pietro Cesati, CEO and founder of Soisy, would like to use the 900K euro which has boosted his Fintech startup following the recent share capital increase, in December 2017.
Founded in 2015 and operating since 2016, Soisy is a peer to peer lending platform where everyone can take out a loan in order to purchase products in physical or online shops. Once a consumer has obtained the desired good, he pays for it in instalments with Soisy. “We choose to focus on small physical shops because there is less competition and they are most in need of technology and innovation” explains Cesati, noting that the vast majority of the about 100 shops related to his platform belong in the music sector or are in the field of sport.
Those who invest with Soisy can indicate the amount, rating and duration of their investment and they can choose to have a guarantee of income return. In this case, agreeing to obtain a lower income, investors have a “money box” to protect their capital that pays in the event that one of granted loans doesn’t do so.
After the capital increase, “we will basically work in two different directions: product improvement and marketing and communication” Cesati affirms, looking forward without excluding the internationalisation of Soisy for e-commerce, with local potential partners. In Italy, after a development and validation period of 18 months, “our product meets market needs, so it’s time to make the user experience even better with further functions becoming available”. Part of the capital of Soisy, at this stage, will be invested in marketing and communication activities in order to expand our community of users.
The Soisy team will continue to work towards these goals from the building “S32”, in Milan, “the perfect place to take advantage of the Fintech District community”. “We arrived here by looking for a more appropriate office and a better quality of community life between startup that working in the same place. We’re here and we are participating actively in the best national efforts to do something meaningful in Fintech sector by creating a community that fosters the exchange of ideas and partnerships, also becoming a reference point for politics, media and Venture capital”