FinTechWeek Vienna 2018

7 days, 11 venues, 13 events – last year’s FinTechWeek in a nutshell. It covered a Hackathon, FMA Regulatory explanations, Blockchain’s history and legal aspects, and a deep-dive into Austria’s FinTech ecosystem by our own leading FinTechs and attracted more than 1000 FinTech Enthusiasts from Austria, Western & CEE, and even New York! Both female and male  international top-notch leaders in the FinTech ecosystem reflected upon their careers as well as about trends & current developments in the ecosystem as a whole. Incumbents contemplated about their strategic challenges, cultural transformations, and how FinTech has impacted the traditional value chain. Federal Minister of Finance Hartwig Löger elaborated on the achievements of the FinTechBeirat and explained the launch of a regulatory sandbox.  

Key Take-aways

FinTech x Austrian ecosystem

>> Together we are stronger: A lot has happened from a regulatory and funding perspective ever since the inception of FinTech in Austria which made it possible that Austria is home to more than 100 FinTechs and counting. More and more incumbent and media stakeholders are showing interest in FinTech. However, there is never enough capital especially when FinTech is entering the growth phase of its existence. Furthermore, red tape and taxation were indicated as unattractive factors compared to other jurisdictions. Interesting times ahead and in order to be internationally competitive, there is still a lot to be done from all stakeholders.
In comparison, key success-factor for FinTechs in Switzerland is cross-industry collaboration and right investment of capital (they have a100% FinTech survival rate); for Singapore’s vibrant ecosystem it is about active collaboration between government and banks opening up and diving deeper into innovation which makes the whole ecosystem more competitive, as F10 shared their experience. 

FinTech x Regulatory 

>> FMA shared their experience in licensing FinTechs and launched a FinTech Navigator for orientation purposes. There are 6 Austrian FinTechs that have received a licence so far, one of them is Finabro
>> BMF’s expectation is for FinTech to make our economy more efficient, to contribute to the financial stability, to consumer choice, to do this in an orderly fashion. It is not that important whether you are an incumbent or a FinTech, what is important is to have a solution that works for the consumer and to have financial stability in our system.
>> Federal Minister of Finance Hartwig Löger explained the working groups of the FinTechBeirat and its progress on KYC, Digitalization of securities, ICO and Cryptoassets, and he announced that Austria will launch a regulatory sandbox next year – similar to the model in the UK – meaning that FinTechs who acquire a license from FMA can apply. It should create a positive environment of innovation between authorities and FinTechs. Furthermore, he emphasized the importance of tech-neutrality when creating a balanced common regulatory framework because in the end the customer decides which competitor to choose, not the regulator.

FinTech x Blockchain

>> The idea of cryptographic protocols is per se nothing new; the very first application of electronic money already happened through DigiCash almost 30 years ago. 2014 Coinfinity and later Bitpanda were established in Austria; yet only a very low amount of Austrians actually hold Cryptocurrencies.
>> Blockchain has arrived in our everyday life – have we actually realized it? For example: Pfizer and Merck are using real world applications to fight counterfeit with blockchain. Wien Energie has teamed up and is checking electricity streams within their smart city projects. Blockchain is not here to disrupt, but to complement certain industries in order to optimize processes.
>> Specialists spoke about security tokens’ rise and that the current crypto hangover is the signal of maturity; crypto is not over, it is just maturing. 
>> DAAA – Digital Asset Association Austria’s establishment was announced during that week.

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