Disruptive FinTech startups ‘will not dislodge banks’


by Joe Curtis| 07 February 2014

New FinTech accelerator head believes banks will learn from innovation.

Banks will not lose relevance despite the trends of peer-to-peer lending and cryptocurrencies, claimed the co-founder of a new financial tech (FinTech) startup hub.

Finance sector and startup veteran Nektarios Liolios is leading the hunt for 10 innovative new companies to join European accelerator Startupbootcamp FinTech, but says even the most disruptive firms won't push banks out of the picture.

"I don't think this is going to happen," he told CBR. "[Finance is] an ecosystem where everybody plays a role. It's about changing the industry."

Bitcoin is leading the wave of a raft of digital currencies whose potential for shaking up the expensive transfers system has been recognised, reducing the cost and increasing the speed compared to banks.

Meanwhile, peer-to-peer lending platforms like Seedrs and Crowdcube have experienced success they claim has been underpinned by entrepreneurs seeking more flexible equity-based funding due to banks' reluctance to lend in the current economic climate.

Liolios, formerly heading up the startup incubator of SWIFT (Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication), has already recruited what he terms "partners" in the form of Lloyds, MasterCard and Rabobank, with more to announce.

And he added: "There will be players changing stuff the banks offer but it's as important to watch how the banks respond to innovation. That's one of the motivations for why partners come on board."

They will mentor the 10 successful startups, as well as providing access to their APIs over a 13-week period starting in August at Rainmaking Loft, the 10,000ft hub in St Katharine Docks.

The teams will get €15,000 "beer and pizza" money in exchange for 8% equity, and will be chosen after trips to global FinTech hotspots like New York and Singapore to recruit from the local companies.

The trips will include hackathons to attract new talent, pitch days and lounges, where FinTech firms can meet industry execs.

Liolios told CBR most Startupbootcamp teams raise €400,000 funding after completing the course, but he said the involvement of banks as partners would also "open doors" for the entrepreneurs.

The venture joins existing FinTech accelerators like Level39.

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