Vladislav Solodkiy about London Finovate 2016

By Vladislav Solodkiy, Managing partner of Life.SREDA VC

for Fintechranking 

With fintech being one of the hottest new sectors for both tech and finance, premiere events in the field have become must-visit affairs for a fintech VC like me.

On February 9-10 this year, London hosted arguably the largest conference in Europe, Finovate, where over 70 companies from more than 10 countries competed for the public’s attention and the Best of Show Award.

[su_pullquote]Startups no longer consider Finovate as a platform for pitching in front of a large number of potential investors.[/su_pullquote]

With eager eyes and great excitement, I looked forward to seeing how Finovate would wow me this year. Unfortunately, despite the rapid growth of the fintech industry, Finovate itself seems to be loosing its “sharpness” and relevance.

Why I was disappointed by Finovate 2016

Almost all of the demos were on behalf of B2B software manufacturers and suppliers of white-label-solutions, while bright and destructive projects working directly with end customers were not presented.

Despite the boom of mobile banking in the UK – Atom (UK), Tandem (UK), Secco (UK), Mondo (UK), Starling (UK), Anna (UK), Numbr28 (GER), LunarWay (Denmark), Fidor (GER UK), none of them demo-ed their updated product at Finovate.

Only 14 of the 70 demos were built not only by men: the “femtech” trend (or “coding girls”) hasn’t yet reached fintech.

There were lots of trading projects and a number of projects aggregating API of external fintech services (which is quite a novelty).

There was not a single Asian project attempting to draw the attention or funding from the European audience.

The number of investors attending the show in recent years decreased while the number of banks and consulting companies increased. Therefore, startups no longer consider Finovate as a platform for pitching in front of a large number of potential investors and instead increasingly rely on banks as potential partners.

Projects that caught my attention

Photo credit: EdgeVerge

Photo credit: EdgeVerge

  • OutShared (white-label solution for insurance services)
  • Qumram (B2B solution to split your data as #hashtags about customers for better analysis and predictions)
  • InvestUp (P2P-lending and crowdinvesting)
  • Travel Kaddy by Sandstone Technology (B2B-solution for travel expenses management)
  • PaySend (remittances)
  • Crealogix (API catalog of fintech-services)
  • Alpha Payments Cloud (API catalog of fintech-services)
  • SizeUp (data-analytics for SMEs)
  • SBDA Group (CRM and marketing B2B-solution for banks)
  • Xpenditure (corporate expenses management)
  • LendStar (P2P-lending and communications management)
  • AdviceRobo (robo-management of your P2P-lending portfolio)
  • Passport (public transport’s payments)
  • Spiff (gamification savings tool)

The B2B companies regularly demo-ing at Finovate with high quality solutions

  • ETronika (PFM)
  • Backbase (white-label solution for internet mobile banks)
  • Meniga (PFM)

My opinion coincides with the voting audience on four of the six Finovate Best of Show winners.

  • Capitali.se for its technology that uses natural language to enable trade automation, turning investment ideas into auto-managed investment portfolios.
  • EyeVerify for its biometric authentication, Eyeprint ID technology that turns an ordinary selfie into a key that protects your digital life.
  • SwipeStox for its mobile social trading app that allows anyone to trade forex, market indicies, and CFDs by copying single trades.
  • Valuto for its multi-currency account powered by an open API that enables seamless integration with SaaS accounting, e-invoicing, B2B marketplace, and ecommerce platforms.

The two other winners were

  • DriveWealth for its cloud-based/API technologies that enable real-time, fractional share investing and trading in US equities for mass retail investors around the world.
  • IDscan Biometrics for its market-leading digital, onboarding suite with a powerful, state-of-the-art facial recognition algorithm.

It would be better, in my opinion, if events like Finovate could work harder to attract more actual startups and venture capital investors, rather than banks (banks do not invest much). They could also tie the investment cycles of these companies to the conferences in London, San Jose and New York — so that you have 2 days to meet and consider 70 fundraising projects, and then select a short-list for further negotiations.

This could save time for startups and would be very convenient for investors.