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Berlin to go, english edition, 01/2018

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STARTUP HOW THE FINANCIAL INDUSTRY OF THE FUTURE IS BEING CREATED IN BERLIN Berlin is Europe’s FinTech capital and supports international startups active in the Start Alliance Text: Ines Hein The cradle of Europe’s financial sector is now found on the banks of the Spree River. In no other city are FinTechs emerging at such a high speed and level of success than here in Berlin. From 19 to 29 March 2018, the first inbound program of the Start Alliance focusing on FinTech – a highly anticipated summit of financial innovators – was held in Berlin. With disruptive business models and digital services, FinTech startups are eager to provide traditional banks with entirely new services. Mobile transactions, “online-only” banking and modular financial services are just some of the trends set to pry open the very traditional banking sector. In Germany, the moniker “financial center” no longer applies solely to Frankfurt am Main. As Germany’s FinTech capital, Berlin is now the leader in finance innovations for startups. One important trendsetter in this development is the Start Alliance launched in 2015 by Berlin Partner for Business and Technology. The aim of the alliance is to support startups from New York, London, Paris, Shanghai, Tel Aviv, Vienna and Berlin in their efforts to internationalize their business and to strengthen scaling effects by means of short distances around the globe. From 19 to 29 March 2018, the German capital hosted the Start Alliance’s first inbound program on the subject of FinTech. Fifteen startups from Berlin’s partner cities came to the capital, where they were introduced to the local startup scene through visits to co-working spaces, accelerators and incubators. The initiators of the program also provided their guests with deep insights into the German financial ecosystem by establishing links to banks and their innovation labs as well as to FinTech institutions and pioneers. The FinTech company builder FinLeap, a renowned FinTech promoter specializing in helping founders build tech-driven financial service companies, was also on board as a mentoring partner. Among their best known spinoffs are solarisBank, the first FinTech bank to have its own banking license, as well as Elinvar, FinReach, BillFront, Clark, Element and Valendo. With FinLeap as a mentoring partner, participants in the Start Alliance program received profound insights into the structures and mechanics of the German financial sector. Thanks to the mentors, participants were able to establish concrete ties to relevant partners and gain access to practical docking options designed to help them gain a foothold in the German market. In other words, they were provided a shortcut to Germany’s digital financial center. “Berlin is an important location on the European FinTech scene, but openness to new ideas is the only way to advance the city to a top-tier position where it can play in the big leagues,” explains FinLeap CEO and co-founder Ramin Niroumand. “The inbound program organized by Start Alliance is a very valuable and exciting initiative. Many approaches that exist in the FinTech sector across the globe are presented here. In addition to fruitful exchanges with the FinTech experts, I’m also hoping we see many Photo: berlin-event-foto 30

new partnerships and collaborations on an international level.” The numbers prove that the German capital is predestined for this innovation summit. According to Comdirect’s 2017 FinTech Hub Ranking, 228 of a total of roughly 700 nationwide FinTech startups are based in Berlin. Between 2013 and the fall of 2017, €664 million in venture capital flowed into financial technology startups here. Berlin is also ahead of Frankfurt and Hamburg in terms of the number of startup companies founded as well as in VC investments and VC funding rounds. Why all the hype? In Berlin, a company is founded on average every 20 minutes. Roughly 500 tech startups are born here each year. The city is highly attractive as a new-company capital because it offers both international and interdisciplinary networks and a high quality of life. Digital work and urban lifestyles can be combined here in the best possible way. This fact attracts talent from all over the world – with large companies and investment capital following closely behind. As a hotspot in the blockchain community, the city also stays true to its reputation for engaging in experimental approaches. People try out new things in Berlin. Here, the system of “trial and error” is often extended by the factor of “success” – which is precisely Berlin’s formula for lucrative digitalization. There’s also a policy-related bonus: Germany’s financial market regulation is determined in Berlin. Short paths and a direct line to official decision makers and committees make Berlin the “place to be” for aspiring young companies in the FinTech community. Not just this March, but all year round. 31

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