“Fintech need not be disruptive”

Stefan Kyora

12.02.2016 09:08

As part of the Swiss Fintech Award 2016, 10 finalists have the opportunity to participate in a boot camp at Accenture. We asked George H. Schmidt, Managing Director Financial Services at Accenture Switzerland, for his impressions and assessment of fintech in Switzerland.

Mr. Schmidt, Accenture is Knowledge Partner at the Swiss Fintech Award. What interests a large management consultancy in the subject of fintech?
George H. Schmidt: At Accenture, we have been dealing with the issue for some time. Accenture launched the Fintech Innovation Lab in 2011, a three-month mentoring programme in New York, London, Hong Kong and Dublin. We are very interested in the development of the fintech ecosystem, not least because we, as a ‘Digital Transformation Partner’, understand our customers.

Your customers are large companies. Do they in particular not want to squeeze out fintech start-ups?
Of course there is a fundamental change in the financial sector. A recent Accenture study shows that in a worst case scenario banks may lose 30% of their revenue to start-ups by 2020, but this does not mean that this 30% will vanish. Fintech need not be disruptive; start-ups and large companies can work together. That’s why we try to bring our customers and young companies together.

You are on the jury of the Swiss Fintech Award and have been working with Swiss start-ups as part of the boot camps. How high is the level?
We had 66 applications this year, of which 45 were shortlisted and from these we selected 4 finalists. There were some very good ones among them, which we were able to recognise quickly. On the other hand, many start-ups still do not think from a market perspective and rely on their technology alone.

Does that mean there are few outstanding fintech start-ups?
The ecosystem is busy, but I sometimes feel that in Switzerland there are more start-up supporters than start-ups. It needs more people who think entrepreneurially and are willing to take risks.

Why is that?
A major problem is that it’s not cool in this country to work for a start-up. For top talent, big companies are still very attractive. Furthermore, costs in Switzerland are high; although there’s a good business angel system, there’s too little venture capital.

Should one not even start in Switzerland?
Of course, there are also positive aspects here, including a clear control system, good education and a stable political framework.

Which sort of fintech start-ups would find Switzerland a good location?
Me-too offerings from Switzerland will definitely not work. And since the market for B2C is too small, B2B business models are likely to be more promising. For me, interesting themes include bitcoin and security.

A comment on this interview by serial entrepreneur Axel Schultze can be found on Axel Schultze's blog.

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