Vidyasoft and the new challenges awaiting this ex-spin off

2020 is a turning point for Vidyasoft: it is a new phase with new projects on the way, partnerships and exploration of markets, including international ones. First of all, since May, this company is no longer a spin-off of the University of Salento. Five years of being accompanied on the market are now over and it has to fend for itself and find a new “home”. Roberto Vergallo, founder of Vidyasoft, says he has already found a suitable space, “a beautiful space in a new ecosystem that is being created in Lecce. However, it is also our goal to intensify our presence in Milan in the space we already own in Via Sassetti 32”.

The new phase is also full of challenging goals that have not allowed the team to slow down, despite the arrival of the pandemic and all the doubts and uncertainties that have come with it. Over the concern has won the enthusiasm, commitment and desire to look ahead to the new challenges that await Vidyasoft in 2020 have won over all concerns.

“We are signing a new partnership with an Apulian company like us and with an important presence in the Fintech District as a corporate member. We do not want to reveal the name so as not to take away the surprise – explains Vergallo – but what we can say is that it is a company that has been on the market for over 25 years: a leading international player in Italy for software and omnicanale bank. It has 70% pervasiveness in the ATM sector and one million users worldwide. At the end of the commercial agreement we expect to expand our market and reach more important Italian service providers and banking groups”.

In the daily life of the Vidyasoft team, ongoing projects with important advances also take up space and time. The partnership with Sella, for which they have created the first Italian voice banking system, continues and will be added to the operations. In this way it will be possible to move money simply using one’s own voice. And then “we have started the industrialization process of our home voice assistant Vidyasoft that we already own in the prototype stage – explains Vergallo – Unlike the well-known commercial voice assistants such as Google Home and Amazon Eco, our device has no policy limitations because it is 100% based on our cloud wox and for this reason it lends itself to industrial applications such as industry 4.0, and specific customizations based on the Internet of Things”.

Today it is active only in Italy, but Vidyasoft is looking with curiosity at the international market. “Surely the global market of our partner opens new possibilities for us. In addition to important presences in London, Paris and Frankfurt we expect to develop a dynamic international activity also in Slovenia, Romania, Serbia, Belgium, Portugal and France”.

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Auriga launches Bank4ME and announces a new international acquisition

A new solution, “Bank4ME” designed to ensure that the branch is always operational but remotely, at a time when it is particularly important to offer this service to bank customers. An international acquisition thanks to which it will be able to offer to its customers the possibility to managing centrally the security of the devices by protecting, monitoring and controlling the assets.

Auriga, corporate member of Fintech District, has two important pieces of news to share. Vincenzo Fiore, CEO of Auriga, explains them in this interview, also announcing the will to accelerate international development.

As a company that is always attentive to innovating and responding to market needs, have you recently launched solutions to help banks deal with the coronavirus emergency and minimize its impact?

In the current scenario, bank branches, as an essential service for citizens and businesses, must play a key role, not only in terms of economic support in an unprecedented period, but also, and above all, in terms of accessibility to financial services.

As a result of recent social distancing provisions, several of our client banks have pointed out to us the need to guarantee continuity of the services offered to their clients and their full efficiency, while guaranteeing at the same time, adequate levels of security for both clients and employees.

Digital technologies represent a strategic solution in this context, because they not only guarantee the full efficiency of services, but also allow to preserve the human component and take advantage of the advice of banking professionals.

Our Bank4ME solution – one of the modules of our NextGenBranch proposal – has adapted itself to this situation since it is designed to ensure that the banking branch is always operational remotely.

Through a platform station, present in a reserved area of the branch and accessible to customers after recognition, you can access all the services of your bank in self-service assisted mode and interact with the bank’s consultants in videoconference, in a secure and personalized way.

What are the main advantages of this solution?

Bank4Me allows you to:

  • guarantee the continuity of the services offered to the client (consultant always available, remotely, as in a branch) and at the same time safeguard the health of both employees and clients, keeping in line with the imposed obligation of social distancing;
  • enable smart working for employees, operators and managers in branches, who until now have generally been denied the possibilityof continue working;
  • reduce the management costs of the branches and make them more flexible by freeing the offer of consultancy services from the physical presence of the manager and safeguarding the levels of service availability and customer experience.
  • make the consultancy relationship more efficient and also promote a growing digitalization of services, with a view to greater multigenerational inclusion

Bank4ME extends our NextGenBranch proposal, thanks to which the branch is transformed into a consultancy space with added value. A modern and technological branch, open 24 hours a day every day, where the customer can access all services in self-service mode without giving up consulting support or assistance in real time, but having it delivered in an innovative way.

Bank4ME also responds to the urgent need of banks to maintain their presence on the territory, while reducing branch management costs and breaking down the existing barriers between the physical and digital world, thanks to the use of technology.

What other news about your company?

Auriga recently announced the acquisition of Lookwise Device Manager (LDM), a modular cybersecurity platform and business unit of S21Sec, a leading European security services specialist and part of Sonae IM, Ventur Capital focused on cybersecurity, retail and telecommunications technology investments.

The agreement provides for the acquisition and integration of LDM expertise and technology in Auriga’s business. The acquired unit, based in Madrid, Pamplona and Mexico City, brings with it a proprietary platform capable of providing the most advanced and effective countermeasures to defend against cyber threats, malware and hacker attacks. Auriga also acquires the LDM client portfolio, while working with S21Sec to offer expanded cybersecurityconsultancy to customers and prospects.

Recognized worldwide as a solution to respond to the latest malware attacks, LDM received the ATM Cyber Security Excellence Award at the ATM Customer Experience & Security Summit in 2018.

How does this acquisition enrich your offer and what benefits does it bring to your customers?

By integrating LDM with the WWS suite, Auriga offers its customers the ability to manage the security of devices (such as ATMs, POS terminals, critical infrastructure control systems) centrally by protecting, monitoring and controlling assets.

In this way we can significantly develop the most effective cyber risk management and prevention capabilities for our customers, that in turn can protect the digital financial services offered through their channels. All with a minimal use of resources and time.

The acquisition responds to Auriga’s international growth strategy, which also sees its network of offices extended to Madrid and Mexico City, as well as its desire to invest in a sector such as cybersecurity which, in the light of the advent of a digital transformation economy and the proliferation of cyber threats, is becoming an increasingly strategic priority for banks.

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MEDICI and FD, a partnership to deepen the knowledge of the global Fintech

Fintech District and MEDICI become partners to provide smart tools together with more and more in-depth and updated information for all those companies looking at the fintech sector with growing interest and chosing to become corporate members of Fintech District to be in the front row among those who can observe and interact with the fintech ecosystem which is not only Italian but also international.

In this double interview with Clelia and Giuseppe we explore,not only the partnership but also the current Fintech scenario, between Italy and the world.

Giuseppe Marchese, Head of Business Development Europe at MEDICI

What does Medici do? Why did you choose to partner with Fintech District and what is it?

MEDICI is the world’s leading FinTech Research and Innovation Platform. As a premier destination for FinTech insights, MEDICI has over 13,000 FinTechs on the platform, which enables FinTechs to scale and create global economic impact. By partnering with banks, various technology companies, and FIs globally, MEDICI is committed to supporting the complex financial services ecosystem and enabling stakeholders to benefit from the industry’s accelerated growth and global impact.
The idea behind the partnership with the Fintech District is to provide useful insights and support to its corporate membership. For instance, through our platform, they can have access to up-to-date FinTech related information, unique data, and a proprietary database of more than 13,000 companies listed. As we see this relation, empowering the Italian FinTech Ecosystem with global data is the ultimate mission of the partnership.

From your point of view highly international, 3 strengths and 3 weaknesses of the Italian fintech ecosystem.

As you correctly said, we are a global company which has started to actively looking into the Italian market “only” 3 years ago. For what is our understanding, we see that the ecosystem here in Italy is very focused and concentrated in a couple of verticals (P2P lending, Wallet, Crowdfunding, Payments) and that is probably due to the Italian Regulation, which makes very difficult to establish a new solution for other verticals. For example, for all of the sub-vertical of RegTech (KYC, AML, Fraud Prevention, Regulatory Reporting, etc) working in Italy is very hard due to strict Regulatory Requirements.
The great thing about the Italian FinTech Market is that it is driven by very motivated and talented people, behind every solution there is (most of the time) a young entrepreneur who is putting all of herself/himself to make the change happen. I can tell that the community is well connected and there is a huge willingness to sharing experience and expertise – especially here in Milan which is the heart of Italian FinTech.
Above all, I really believe that FinTech in Italy, especially after PSD2, is a very high growth market, whit Financial Institutions and Regulators now willing to collaborate and to approach to new solutions, so making Italy the next-to-be country for any FinTech!

And 3 fintech ecosystems outside of italy to keep an eye on “because they will surprise us”. And why?

Regarding this question, I may be a little bit biased since we are supporting the Qatar Development Bank along with the Qatar Government in creating and developing the Qatari FinTech Hub. Hence, for sure you will have to monitor and look closely at Qatar as a growing Ecosystem for the development of FinTech in the Middle East Area.
I reckon the Indian Ecosystem is one of the strongest and fast-growing FinTech Ecosystem globally. MEDICI has an office in Bangalore, right into the heart of the FinTech scene and we can tell for sure that greater things and solutions have to come. Just have a look at UPI to have a quick understanding of what I am referring to.
Lastly, Australia is my pick. Personally, I have lived in Melbourne and seen what this country has to give when it comes to innovation – no matter the industry. One of the key aspects is the strong support of the local government, always ready to support entrepreneurs and innovations. More than that, global accelerators and large corporates are investing a lot into FinTech. For example, in Melbourne Startupbootcamp already held a first edition of the FinTech accelerator and it is ready for a second one.

Clelia Tosi, Business Development Manager at Fintech District

Why a partnership with Medici? What advantages for the community?

The Fintech District wants to increase the value for the community stakeholder year after year. The partnership with Medici and,in particular the access to the Medici Inner Circle Platform, is part of this perspective because it allows Corporate Members and our team to deepen their knowledge of the global Fintech scenario, its numbers and trend topics, to better understand the ongoing and prospective dynamics.

Three strong points and three weak points of Italian fintech today?

Strengths:

  • PARTNERSHIP: At last there is an increase in the number of strategic and operational partnerships between Fintech and Incumbent operators. This confirms the idea that fintech does not disintermediate incumbents in the relationship with the customer, but, on the contrary, improves their effectiveness and often also increases the efficiency of processes.
  • KNOW HOW: About half of the Italian fintech founders come from previous experiences in the banking or insurance sector. Consequently they know the dynamics, languages, processes and limits.
  • REGULATION: The regulations, and in particular the new Sandbox decree and the entry into force of PSD2, open new perspectives that can certainly bring a competitive advantage to our country if well understood and exploited by all players in the ecosystem.

Weaknesses:

  • FUNDING: The level of funding, both from individuals and VCs and institutional investors, is still much lower than in other European countries, although it has almost quadrupled in the last year. This bodes well for the future.
  • VISION: In some cases the strategic vision of entrepreneurs is still too anchored in the concept of SMEs. The meaning and characteristics of start-ups are poorly understood, in terms of exponential growth, risk appetite and innovative culture.
  • COMPETITION: The global scenario is very competitive and dynamic: it is increasingly complex to make a difference and climb beyond the national borders. This is also because of the challenges launched by Big Tech giants.

Has the international look at Italian fintech changed? If so, how?

There is still a long way to go, but surely the interest towards our country is increasing. The most famous European unicorns, including N26 and Revolut, have chosen Milan as the home of their South Europe Head Quarter. The Fintech District is also increasingly recognized as a gateway by institutional stakeholders from foreign countries (every week we host or get in touch with foreign interlocutors and we have a continuous relationship with more than 10 International Hubs). Investors are also beginning to learn about our top players (especially in the lending and payment areas).

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European Fintech Discovery Program by FD

The fintech excellence of Europe at the hands of companies to facilitate open innovation projects across borders, for once, it is not the startups that are moving to go in search of corporate but the latter who are reaching the fintech best suited to their business going to get to know them. This is the European Fintech Discovery Program: an initiative Fintech District has promoted and carried out, succeeding in involving 9 other hubs that support startups and scaleups in the same sector but in other parts of the continent:

  • Fintech Scotland
  • Holland Fintech
  • Copenhagen Fintech
  • B-Hive (Belgium)
  • The Lhoft (Luxembourg)
  • Le Village (France)
  • Portugal Fintech
  • TechQuartier (Germany)
  • Innsomnia (Spain)

The 10 hubs, all firmly convinced it is necessary to work together to grow fintech at a European level and make Europe a powerhouse, can thus offer their corporate members and other companies in the area, the opportunity to meet more than 1500 fintech and insurtech in Europe, selecting the type according to their needs in terms of open innovation.

Everyone will be able to present it with their own brand because this program is not owned by anyone, is based on collaboration between “colleagues” hub and aims to increase knowledge of the fintech scenario at a European level as well as bring the best practices of some countries to those that could benefit most. Working on a common initiative like this is also a first but important step towards the creation of the European single market.

Even though the program is aimed at corporate clients – its success depends on their interest – it also benefits startups that will see their matchmaking opportunities speed up and their time for market and business development reduced thanks to the possibility of introducing themselves to visiting foreign corporations while staying in their own country.

If you are interested in this opportunity, write to us at info@fintechdistrict.com to learn more

 

Taxation and internalization: tips by Antonio Vitali

If an Italian fintech startup wants to face the process of internationalization, it must also think about what will happen at the taxation level. This is not an easy topic we chose to address during a session of our mentorship program for community startups with the contribution of Antonio Vitali (Tremonti Romagnoli Piccardi and Associates), an expert who gave us a picture of the current situation. Here it is.

From 1 to 10 how much do taxation issues affect the speed of internationalization of an Italian startup and why?

It depends on a series of factors that vary from case to case, but I think that tax issues have a certain influence. In general, we can say that these issues are often relevant and the tax system tends to be very complicated. The complexity increases when you move into a transnational context. Startups may not always find it easy to spend time and resources on tax issues during the internationalization phase. This may result in a slowdown in the process.

Do you think startups give the right weight to this or underestimate it?

These aspects are certainly taken into account, but the complexity of the tax system is now very high. Moreover, during the startup phase, there may be no incentive to look at the tax variable as an opportunity. These two components can lead to an underestimation of some important financial aspects affecting the internationalization process.

Are there more or fewer difficulties for an Italian startup starting a process of internationalization, in terms of taxation, compared to the situation in other countries?

Generally speaking, I would say the situation is quite similar, at least if we compare it with other EU countries. The main tax issues affecting Italian startups engaged in the internationalization phase are basically the same as those affecting ones resident in other EU countries. The rules, always in the EU context, tend more and more to be shaped according to common evolutionary lines.

How can the situation be improved? Are there any countries to take as an example?

Stability, simplicity and reliability of the tax system are important values. This also applies in general to the rules and procedures to be applied in the process of internationalisation. It would, therefore, be helpful, for example, in the short term, to speed up the procedures for reaching an agreement with regard to transfer prices, such as APAs. In the medium to long term run, it would be important, at least at an EU level, to adopt a common tax base between the Member States, as provided for in a Directive which has been under discussion now for some time. This would give advantages in terms of simplification and could allow the overcoming of the complex rules of transfer pricing in relations between group subjects operating in the different Member States. This would reduce administrative costs and, of course, tax risks. Moreover, the approval of the proposed EU Directive on “significant digital presence”, with a multilateral amendment of the treaties against double taxation between member states would make a contribution in the direction of clarity in the taxation of the digital economy in general.

As far as the taxation issues you deal with are concerned, do you see any peculiarities in the fintech sector?

There are many special features in all areas of taxation, including VAT. There is also no lack of direct intervention by the legislator, who, for example, has regulated peer to peer lending from a fiscal point of view, with the introduction of a withholding tax applied directly by platform operators, on the income from this activity received by natural persons.

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Why are fintechs expanding to Australia?

Did you know…

  • Australia is in its 28th consecutive year of economic growth (a record for uninterrupted growth among developed economies);
  • Finance and insurance services are Australia’s largest sector by gross value added (GVA) and is one of its highest growth sectors; and
  • Australia has the world’s fourth-largest pension market, valued at US$1.9 trillion.

As a wealthy country with a similar culture to Europe but located in the heart of the Asian region, Australia is an ideal destination for companies seeking to expand internationally.

Australia has a thriving fintech ecosystem that is evolving rapidly and becoming increasingly diverse, driven by the growing appetite for digital services.

Australia is taking a “customer-first” approach to regulating open banking with its Consumer Data Right (CDR) law, of which Open Banking is the first part. The CDR allows consumers to control their own data, including who can use it. It supports a single data-sharing framework that will allow consumers to own their own data not just in the finance sector, but in the future also in other sectors, such as energy and telecommunications. This creates opportunities for tech companies offering new products and services.

Australia’s Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, championed fintech in his previous role as Treasurer and adopted many pro-fintech policies. He has introduced the Consumer Data Right in order to drive competition and innovation across the economy.

A number of international fintech companies are now looking to Australia to support their international growth. European fintechs such as Revolut, Ebury, Ratesetter and TransferWise are just a few of those who have chosen to establish a presence in Australia.

Revolut chose Australia for its first expansion outside the UK and Europe, while Ebury opened its second Australian office just 12 months after its first, following a period of strong growth.

Given the strong economic ties with Asia, some international fintechs also choose Australia as their Asia Pacific headquarters. Ebury chose Australia as a global operational hub to support its expansion into Asia.

Irish fintech Fineos is also present in Australia and recently listed on the Australian Stock Exchange. According to Macquarie, lead manager for the listing, Fineos makes 53 per cent of its revenue in the Asia Pacific region, more than it makes in Europe (12 per cent) or North America (35 per cent).

The European connections don’t end there. Australia’s biggest bank, the Commonwealth Bank, recently invested US$100 million into Swedish fintech Klarna.

Insurtech Gateway, the London-based insurtech incubator, has chosen Australia for its first international program. Their Australian headquarters will be based in Sydney at Stone and Chalk, one of the biggest fintech hubs in Asia.

Regtech is another fast-growing sector for which there is increasing demand. The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), a regulatory body, is proactively promoting regtech adoption among Australian financial services organisations. ASIC recently launched a series of events in which regtech startups and scale-ups demonstrated their solutions to representatives from finance, technology, government and media.

Australia has all the right fundamentals with a strong financial system, a vibrant digital landscape and geographically well-positioned to the growing economic powerhouse of Asia. It is fast emerging as a world intersection for fintech innovation.

Connect to our free, interactive live streaming event on Tuesday 24 September and join an Australian fintech expert who will be presenting from London, to learn more about Australia’s Consumer Data Right & Open Banking Framework and the opportunities this creates for fintechs.

For more information about the event or expanding to Australia, please contact Sheralyn Derrick at the Australian Trade and Investment Commission office in Milan at sheralyn.derrick@austrade.gov.au

australia

Fintech Hive: Italian fintech seen from Dubai

By partnering with international fintech hubs and local leading operators, Fintech District wants to create an international bridge for national startups and be a soft-landing platform to attract new entrants from abroad. Today we meet Fintech Hive. Raja Al Mazrouei, Executive Vice President of DIFC FinTech Hive, tells us about its activities and projects but also its point of view with regard to the Italian fintech ecosystem.

What is Fintech Hive’s mission? What are your key values?

As the region’s first-of-its-kind accelerator programme, FinTech Hive at DIFC aims to bring together established financial institutions, government entities, technology partners and creative entrepreneurs to help create cutting-edge technologies which meet the changing needs of the region’s financial community. At the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), we recognise the increasing importance of FinTech in our region and how it is becoming a key pillar in the future of financial services.

At FinTech Hive, our core value is financial inclusivity. The potential that these creative startups and the FinTech sector have for greater financial inclusion in the region is unprecedented. As such, we have invested in our infrastructure and partner networks to ensure that this unrealised potential is unlocked. We will continue to enhance and expand our programme to allow for more cohesive innovation and entrepreneurship culture to be instilled across the region.

What activities do you offer for fintech startups?

FinTech Hive offers FinTech, RegTech, InsurTech and Islamic FinTech startups the opportunity to develop, test and adapt their technologies, in collaboration with top executives from DIFC and regional established financial institutions. The 12-week programme ends by offering the startups the opportunity to showcase their final products in front of potential investors from the large players in the financial industry.

The programme is also supported by DIFC’s sophisticated platform offering dedicated commercial licenses for FinTech, RegTech, InsurTech and Islamic FinTech firms. This cost-effective scheme allows budding start-ups from the FinTech sector to benefit from the Centre’s world-class infrastructure and ecosystem at feasible rates. FinTech Hive also offers mentorship from leading financial institutions, a dedicated collaborative space to work, and a community of like-minded individuals as well as access to the largest financial community in the region.

What do you expect from the MoU with Fintech District?

As part of this MoU, we expect both FinTech Hive and FinTech District to share knowledge on best practice and enable innovative businesses to operate even more seamlessly between Dubai and Milan. We also wish to explore the various opportunities to facilitate bilateral FinTech access between the two cities and foster a venture capital ecosystem in both markets. As with all our partnerships, this partnership will benefit startups, entrepreneurs and large established entities by enhancing access to investment, unlocking business opportunities and engaging new audiences and innovative products or ideas.

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

The Italian FinTech ecosystem holds immense opportunities for creative innovators across Europe. More specifically, Milan ranks #2 in Europe in terms of the number of organisations that support innovation, according to B-Hive, a European collaborative innovation fintech platform. Milan’s dynamic and creative environment makes it a hotspot for entrepreneurship, comprising 7 research centres, one technological park and several spin-offs. As such, we see immense opportunity to work closely with Fintech District and bring fresh, creative ideas to fruition.

FinTech Hive is particularly interested in technologies that can enhance financial inclusion in the MEASA region and beyond. These startups tend to focus on payment solutions, lending, and process automation, which allows for easy banking access through smartphones or digital devices.

Among the innovation hubs, we work with is Copenhagen Fintech. Read the interview!

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We have taken “The Talent Route”

This July, the Fintech District joined the first global network of 11 independent fintech accelerators from Europe and Israel. The project is called The Talent Route and its aim is to connect startups and accelerators from all over the world in order to facilitate access to new markets and international talent. European accelerators can benefit from the program by becoming a reference point for Fintech and Insurtech startups in their own countries whose desire is to open up new markets.

Alessandro Longoni, head of Fintech District, believes that “This is a further step forward in the internationalization process already underway in Italy at the Fintech District. Our goal is to obtain new international opportunities and open up the Italian market to newcomers”. The collaboration between the 11 hubs from both Europe and Israel was ratified during the first Summit of European Accelerators organized and hosted by INNsommia in Valencia on the 5th of July.

Four of the eleven participants attended the event: Fintech District from Italy, INNsomia from Spain, LHoFT from Luxembourg and BlackFin Tech from France. As well as face-to-face talks, online participation included the other 7 accelerators: Fintech Aviv and JVP from Israel, Accelerator Frankfurt from Germany, Kickstart accelerator from Switzerland, B-Hive from Belgium, Startup Palace from France and Start-up Garage from Germany.

the talent routeIn the morning, the hubs involved in The Talent Route get to know each other, share information on the different innovative ecosystems of their countries and, at the same time, discovered the acceleration models of the companies involved. The summit also featured a speech from the CEOs of the most advanced startups in Valencia, Madrid and Barcelona who talked about their plans to expand abroad.

The success of this first Summit of European Accelerators suggests the need to implement agreements similar to the Talent Route to make Europe more competitive and united in the Fintech sector.

According to Antonio la Mura, Business Development Manager of the Fintech District, “The Italian Fintech ecosystem is achieving great results, and it’s time to make it progress to an international level. Our commitment is in supporting Italian companies in their process to become international. Joining The Talent Route is a coherent step towards the scouting of international business opportunities to provide to our Community. We share the same values and ambitions with the other Fintech hubs and accelerators that joined the program , and we invite all the Italian Fintech startups to get in touch with us if they are willing to know more about a specific market and count on our rapport and support in bringing their business to the next stage”.

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