The NYC FinTech hubs bringing millions into the city
New York City hosts a vibrant entrepreneurial community, and disruptors are changing how the market works. For financial services, established companies, FinTech innovators and disruptors, Andrea Murad finds they are better off in the same mix.
Many companies aren’t in the business of innovating and rely on start-ups and labs for their technology research and development. Rather than travel to Silicon Valley, Boston or London, when it comes to transformative technology, bank executives prefer to look in their own backyard.
“As of two years ago, New York became the second largest center behind Silicon Valley,” said Maria Gotsch, President and CEO of the Partnership Fund for New York City.
Today, there are thousands of FinTechs in the city and numerous labs. There’s been significant infrastructure for start-ups put in place by large corporations, local universities, government regulators and the city government.
As of two years ago, New York became the second largest [transformative technology] center behind Silicon Valley.
Having regulators on board is very important: finance has been slow to innovate and is difficult to disrupt because it is so heavily regulated. That’s now changing, however, as the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency’s Office of Innovation and U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission’s LabCFTC are recent additions to the New York City FinTech community.
EY's Financial Services Innovation Center
In June, EY officially launched its new Financial Services Innovation Center in New York’s Union Square, a flagship location for its global wavespace™ growth and innovation network.
“Innovation is about an organization’s ability to respond to change,” said Roger Park, Innovation and Strategy Leader of EY’s Financial Services Advisory.
“While many financial services organizations have labs of their own, our Union Square Center is a powerful tool for connecting them to EY expertise, leveraging our broader FinTech network and our deep technology alliances,” said Roger.
This space allows EY to be close to the burgeoning start-up and FinTech communities while helping bring innovation to clients at speed and scale. EY’s Suits+Jeans™ approach to innovation combines deep business experience with specialists in disruptive trends such as FinTech, blockchain, machine learning, artificial intelligence, robotic process automation and data analytics.
“The Union Square Center lets us very quickly test and learn in a sandbox environment and showcase how FinTechs can successfully engage with organizations,” added Roger.
“We roll up our sleeves and apply our resources from across EY to address the very complicated business problems that our clients face by bringing new technologies to bear on traditional enterprise functions, such as audit, accounting, risk and operational transformation.”
FinTech Innovation Lab
A 12-week mentorship program known as the FinTech Innovation Lab was co-founded by the Partnership Fund for New York City and Accenture. It’s a non-profit, civic-oriented program without equity stakes or a lot of sponsorship dollars - the program takes a very small warrant coverage at the common stock level to cover costs.
“There’s no question disruption will happen and parts of financial services in New York City will go away because that’s how capitalism works,” said Maria Gotsch. “Rather than being in denial that it will ever change, what we’re saying is that disruption is happening and from a local economy perspective, we want the disruptors here.
“From an economic development perspective, we want that replacement job in the city and that’s why we’re doing this program.”
There are 35 financial institutions already working with companies in the program, spanning insurance, money management, hedge funds and payments.
The companies accepted into the program are more mature than most start-ups, however, as they’re early and growth-stage tech companies that may have already participated in other labs.
During the program, each start-up is assigned several bank mentors and a venture fund, as well as panel discussions with practical advice. There are 35 financial institutions already working with companies in the program, spanning insurance, money management, hedge funds and payments.
“You have entrepreneurs who are taking some of this new technology around mobile, cyber security, data and are building products for what they think the banks’ problems are,” said Maria.
“We make start-ups take off their sales hat and listen. We make them talk about their technology and what they think their use cases would be, and senior executives at banks tell them if it’s right.”
We think if you can get customer attraction, you can raise money. We are laser-focused on that relationship between FinTechs and large banks.
As these companies refine their value proposition, they’re able to position themselves so that their solution resonates with a problem. The relationships that the start-ups develop with the banks persevere after the mentorship ends.
“We think if you can get customer attraction, you can raise money,” said Maria. “We are laser-focused on that relationship between FinTechs and large banks.”
To date, there have been 39 start-ups through the program. Three did not progress and four have been acquired - one was acquired for $175m. “The rest have raised about $460m, and they have created about 400 jobs - some are starting multimillion-dollar contracts,” said Maria.
About the author
Andrea Murad is a New York–based writer. Having worked on both Wall Street and Main Street, she now pursues her passion for words. She covers business and finance, and her work can be found on BBC Capital, Consumers Digest, Entrepreneur.com, FOXBusiness.com, Global Finance and InstitutionalInvestor.com.