London is the world’s top financial center, so this one is something of a no-brainer: having run a FinTech Innovation Lab in New York for the last couple of years, Accenture and the big banks are bringing the idea across to the British capital.
The setup is similar to that in New York, with the consultancy giant and the banks joining forces with local public bodies – in this case the Technology Strategy Board, the Mayor’s Office and the City of London Corporation – to accelerate financial services startups. Applications will be accepted from the start of November, and six startups will win a place on the 12-week program.
Applicants will already have to have a working beta, and will have to demonstrate that they will really benefit from the access to senior banking executives that comes with the course.
“London is the world’s number one financial centre and a global leader in technology innovation, which is why the FinTech quest for entrepreneurs is such an exciting proposition,” mayor Boris Johnson opined.
If the original iteration is anything to go by, the London FinTech lab should come up with some interesting services. Recent grads from the New York operation range from ‘gamified compliance’ mobile apps (TrueOffice) to big data search tools (EidoSearch) and analytics engines for combating fraud (Centrifuge. Not the sexiest material, but all useful to the big names lined up behind the scheme.
And what a roster that is, with many names – Barclays, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, Morgan Stanley and UBS – being familiar from the New York version.
“In the UK, the intersection between the technology space and financial services space perhaps didn’t have the sort of accelerator that we’re looking to set up,” program manager Karl Meekings told me. “There’s obviously a whole array of accelerator programs that exist, but nothing focused on the financial services sector in this way. So we thought this was a good way to identify technologies which are relevant to financial services and which could improve upon the efficiency of the industry as a whole.”
From the organizers’ perspective, setting up the London lab makes sense: while anyone is free to apply to these programs, they need to relocate if they’re accepted, so it’s a natural move to have at least one European base. Meekings also noted that initiatives such as Tech City showed there was “something we could already tap into” in the London scene.
Could we see another of these labs elsewhere in Europe? Doubtful: if Accenture and pals are looking for that magic confluence of tech innovation and high finance, there aren’t too many places outside New York and London to look. If anywhere’s next on the list, my guess would be Singapore.