Finance

The world’s fintech hubs

Once restricted to the backend operations of financial institutions, the use of financial technology has now expanded to serve consumers, businesses, and governments. A 2019 report by EY states that the global average adoption rate of fintech jumped from 33% to 64% in merely two years. Findexable, a financial technology research institute, publishes the Global Fintech Rankings Index 2020. Here is a look at some of the destinations where global fintech firms congregate.

San Francisco 

San Francisco ranks number 1 in the list of global fintech hubs for 2020. This city’s forte is payments, lending, and insurance services. Fintech firms in San Francisco also have a significant presence in B2B and regulatory technology. This is a subset of the fintech industry that contributes to improving regulatory processes. Over the last year Silicon Valley firms made more than 80 fintech deals collectively valued at $3 billion. The city is also home to some fintech Unicorns (companies that are valued at over $1 billion) such as Affirm, Coinbase, and Gusto. In 2019 California made changes to its Consumer Data Privacy (CCDP) Act. It now requires data brokering entities to register with the government. This allowed for greater access to accurate information about fintech companies.

London 

London moved up a rank and placed second on the Global Fintech Index, as well as the first in Europe. This fintech hub is primarily known for alternative lending and finance. These refer to non-traditional forms of loans such as real estate, pawning, outstanding invoices, digital money, and digital currencies. Top B-Schools such as King’s College London and Imperial College Business School offer Master’s degrees in fintech. London started more than 20 fintech accelerators. These are programs that fuel the growth of startups in this industry by providing financial and technical tools and services. These enlarged the supply of labor for fintech firms. To add to this, in 2018 the Competition and Marketing Authority allowed institutions other than banks to use consumers’ data with their consent. This allowed fintech firms to further expand their customer databases.

Singapore

Singapore has one of the highest ranks on the Global Fintech Rankings Index 2020. Primary activities in this Asian nerve center include insurance technology, payments, and lending. Firms such as Kyber Network, TenX, and Quione have their offices in Singapore. The country landed 94 fintech deals over the last year, raising $735 million. Singapore leads the fintech arena in Asia. One of the many fintech-friendly policies of the Monetary Authority of Singapore is the Sandbox Express. It facilitates “faster market testing of innovative financial services.” The country offers six certificate courses in fintech from renowned universities like the Nanyang Tech and Singapore National University.

Mumbai

According to the EY Fintech Adoption Index India has one of the fastest fintech adoption rates in Asia. It is currently at 87%, at par with China. Globally India placed 15th and Mumbai placed 10th on the index. Mumbai also ranked 3rd in the Asia-Pacific region. The existing and aspiring Unicorns in the corporate world, such as Billdest ($1.5 billion), State Bank of India, and Incred, have a dominant presence in alternative lending, digital payments, and wealth management. The primary sources of Mumbai fintech firms’ human resource pool are India’s leading educational institutes. These include the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, and the Bombay Stock Exchange Institute. Mumbai is also known for its fintech-friendly policies. These include the regulatory sandbox launched in 2019 by the Reserve Bank of India, and the Mumbai Fintech Hub, managed by the state government of Maharashtra.

Sao Paulo

Brazil’s vibrant financial hub moved up 18 places to its current position at number 5. The city is known for its presence in Bitcoin and blockchain technology, equity crowdfunding, and mobile banking, among others. Brazil’s market giants include the NU bank (now worth $4 billion), Creditas, and Recargapay. CNBC reported in January that the Banco do Brasil (Brazil’s Central Bank) intends to form partnerships and joint ventures with “minority stakes in fintech.”

Fintech is already an essential component of our lives, whether or not we realize it consciously. Millions use payment platforms such as Google Pay. Millions more send money online on a regular basis to support their families living in another country. Fintech touches our lives in more ways than we realize. Yet, the industry is merely in its infancy. In the years to come there is tremendous scope for fintech, and those who enter this domain early.