FinTechGermany Award 2019

FinTechGermany Award “Golden Garage” honours outstanding FinTech companies in the Financial Centre Frankfurt

With the leading investor award for start-ups, the Financial Centre Frankfurt honours outstanding FinTech companies in six different categories. The jury’s vote went to AUTHADA GmbH in the Seed/Early Stage category and to Barzahlen – Cash Payment Solutions GmbH in the Late Stage Category, while solarisBank AG received the prize for the best FinTech in the Growth Stage category. TransferWise Ltd. was voted the Best Foreign FinTech on the German market. The special prize for the best PropTech was awarded to Exporo AG, while Wefox Germany GmbH was honoured in the special InsurTech category.

The organisers, Börsen-Zeitung (WM Group), Business Angels Frankfurt RheinMain, Frankfurt Main Finance and TechFluence, have now presented the FinTechGermany Award to high-potential FinTech companies for the fifth time. “Our ‘Golden Garage’ award offers young entrepreneurs, in particular, the opportunity to enter into dialogue with FinTech insiders and financial centre representatives and expand their network. We are pleased to be able to offer this platform for the fifth time,” says Dr. Jens Zinke, Managing Director of the Börsen-Zeitung. Andreas Lukic, Chairman of Business Angels Frankfurt RheinMain comments: “We award the prize to the best FinTech, InsurTech and PropTech companies, whose innovative business models and new technologies create value and transform the financial sector. At the same time, the Financial Centre Frankfurt offers the entire financing chain for start-ups – from their foundation and time of growth until they become established.” Hubertus Väth, Managing Director of Frankfurt Main Finance says: “Cooperation between FinTechs and the established players in the financial centre is the key to future success. The FinTechGermany Award creates the platform to make this possible.” And Michael Mellinghoff, Managing Director at TechFluence UK, adds: “In awarding this prize, we above all support start-ups with promising FinTech concepts, while at the same time increasing their visibility on the German market.”

The focus of the sixteen-strong jury was on the companies’ financial viability, scalability and exit capability. Among other things, they evaluated the business concept, competitive advantages, positioning, financial plan and management. The “Seed/Early Stage” category comprises FinTechs with no or only initial revenues, and with no or only a basic prototype. Companies with at least cumulative six-digit revenues were able to apply for the “Late Stage” category. The prerequisites for an award in the “Growth Stage” category were a more than seven-digit turnover and international expansion. Günter Rothenberger, the founder of Günter Rothenberger Industries GmbH and inventor of the R-System, donated the six perpetual trophies in the form of gold-plated water pump pliers mounted on American oak.

Andreas Plies, managing director of AUTHADA GmbH, stated: “The prize is not just for us alone, but for the entire company. It’s nice to have your work recognised.” Ulrike Czekay, Head of PR & Marketing at Barzahlen – Cash Payment Solution GmbH, aims to begin with the payment infrastructure and “dispel customers’ fear of digitisation and offer new possibilities.” Jörg Diewald, Chief Commercial Officer at solarisBank AG, announced, “Our Sales division is growing, and we are desperately looking for new employees to meet our customer needs.” Thomas Adamski, European PR Manager at TransferWise Ltd, was delighted with his trophy, “Our foremost concern is to help people and enable them to drastically reduce the cost of foreign bank transfers. Especially in such a large and active market as FinTech, I am immensely grateful that the scene is very open to new alternatives. I am delighted to be here and get to know all the nice people from the different areas.” Botho von Hülsen, Senior Manager at Exporo AG, commented that “A lot of construction is taking place in Germany, and fund packages can also be purchased from us in the form of products consisting of existing properties.  Our digitalisation rollout is initially planned for France and the Netherlands, as the economic performance of these countries can be easily assessed.” John Shewell, Head of Group Marketing & Communications at Wefox Germany GmbH, felt honoured by the golden garage trophy and expressed that “It is a privilege to be here tonight. At the same time, it is also an honour for all tech start-ups to have the opportunity to transform the financial industry. We want to make insurance easy and convenient for our customers.”

 

Guangzhou Municipal Local Financial Supervision and Administration and Frankfurt Main Finance e.V. sign Memorandum of Understanding

Guangzhou Municipal Local Financial Supervision and Administration and Frankfurt Main Finance e.V. strengthen their cooperation. From May 9th to May 10th, 2019, a Chinese delegation with 11 representatives from the Guangzhou Municipal Local Financial Supervision and Administration and some Guangzhou local state-owned enterprises visited the Financial Centre Frankfurt to conduct a two-day business visit. During these two days, the delegation had meetings with various financial organizations and several agreements on bilateral cooperation plans were achieved.

On the first day of the visit, the Guangzhou Municipal Local Financial Supervision and Administration and Frankfurt Main Finance (FMF), committed to a long-term cooperation in a Memorandum of Understanding. Dr. Lutz Raettig, President of Frankfurt Main Finance e.V., and Qiu Yitong, Director of the Guangzhou Municipal Local Financial Supervision and Administration, signed the agreement at Frankfurt’s city hall, the Römer. Dr. Nargess Eskandari-Grünberg, Deputy Mayor of Frankfurt, also greeted the delegation with a welcome speech. The partnership is an important milestone in the bilateral cooperation of both financial Centres and will guide the future implementation of a series of joint projects between both organisations.

The agreement focuses on many key issues facing today’s financial industry such as Green Finance, FinTech, and Cross-border Finance. The agreement aims to foster the development of an effective cooperation via joint programs, financial trainings, research activities, workshops, publications and study trips. Moreover, both parties will further explore the establishment of a Guangzhou-Frankfurt Financial Alliance.

Qiu Yitong, Director of Guangzhou Municipal Local Financial Supervision and Administration, stated, “Guangzhou is the only city in China’s history that has never closed its door to trading with to the rest of world – and Guangzhou would like to open its door even wider in the future. We hope that we can learn more from Frankfurt about how to develop into a leading Financial Centre.”

Frankfurt Main Finance’s Managing Director Hubertus Väth declared, “We are delighted to sign the MoU with the Guangzhou Municipal Local Financial Supervision and Administration today. We look forward to the fruitful cooperation in the future.”

During their two-day visit of the Financial Centre Frankfurt, the Guangzhou delegation also visited the CEINEX (China Europe International Exchange), the BaFin and Deutsch Bank. As many enterprise representatives from the delegation stated, Guangzhou is one of the most active trading cities in China. Participating in an international capital market is an important step for all enterprises pursuing an international development strategy. Frankfurt, as the “financial heart” of Europe, is a very good choice for these enterprises as they can benefit from the proximity to the banking sector, various stock exchanges, and regulatory authorities. Moreover, Guangzhous local enterprises are keen to attract financial institutions from Frankfurt and to foster cooperation.

Front (from left): Dr. Lutz Raettig, President Frankfurt Main Finance e.V. and Qiu Yitong, Director Guangzhou Municipal Local Financial Supervision and Administration. – Back(from left): Liu Xianchang, Director Economic Development and Finance Bureau of Guangzhou Aerotropolis Development District, Gao Shudong, Director Guangzhou Development District Bureau of Financial Affairs, Deng Xiaoyun, Director China (Guangdong) Pilot Free Trade Zone Nansha Area of Guangzhou and Guangzhou Nansha Economic and Technological Development Zone Bureau of Financial Affairs, Dr. Nargess Eskandari-Grünberg, Deputy Mayor of Frankfurt, Hubertus Väth, Managing Director Frankfurt Main Finance e.V., Eduard Hechler, Director International Affairs City of Frankfurt and Dr. Jochen Biedermann, Senior Advisor Frankfurt Main Finance e.V.

Frankfurt Main Finance wins five new members for the Financial Centre Initiative

Frankfurt am Main – The Financial Centre Initiative Frankfurt Main Finance e. V. welcomes five new members, growing its ranks to 64. Bloomberg L.P., Consileon Business Consultancy GmbH, Moody´s Deutschland GmbH, Refinitiv and Schalast & Partner Rechtsanwälte mbB join the initiative as sustaining members.

Through their membership, the representatives from academia, the financial industry, public administration and the up-and-coming FinTech sector express their solidarity with the Financial Centre, take up current topics of the finance sector and demonstrate their commitment to the growing domestic and international importance of the Financial Centre Frankfurt and the Rhine-Main region.

“We warmly welcome our new members and their commitment to the Financial Centre Frankfurt. With each new member, the affiliation with Frankfurt Main Finance becomes more attractive for existing members as well, and the voice of the Financial Centre gains significance,” says Dr. Lutz Raettig, President of Frankfurt Main Finance. “Through our growth, we can offer a diverse industry network, the efficiency of which also benefits the Financial Centre. The steady growth is a recognition of our daily efforts to represent and position the Financial Centre around the world.”

New member Bloomberg L.P. is the world’s leading provider of financial information and financial news. “Frankfurt is our largest location in continental Europe. Membership of Frankfurt Main Finance expresses our commitment to this important and growing Financial Centre, and we look forward to the collaboration with the other members of the initiative. As a global company with 176 locations around the world, we are particularly keen to contribute to furthering Frankfurt’s international network,” says Friederike von Tiesenhausen, Head of External Relations DACH Bloomberg L.P.

Dr. Joachim Schü, Managing Partner of Consileon Business Consultancy GmbH, said concerning his company’s accession to Frankfurt Main Finance e.V.: “Especially with the successive decline of London’s importance as a Financial Centre due to Brexit, Frankfurt’s importance as a strong economic area and centre of European monetary policy is increasing considerably. By becoming a member of Frankfurt Main Finance e.V., we are clearly committed to Frankfurt as a business location, which is underscored by the recent relocation of our Frankfurt office to the heart of the city. We hope to contribute all our finance sector expertise to the association and are looking forward to the exchange with other members and stakeholders.” With Consileon Frankfurt GmbH and syracom AG, the Consileon Group bundles considerable expertise to advise banks, insurance companies, FinTechs and other financial service providers.

Carl-Johan von Uexküll, Managing Director Germany & Switzerland at Refinitiv, confirms: “With our membership in Frankfurt Main Finance, we are demonstrating our confidence in the Financial Centre Frankfurt. At the same time, we want to actively contribute to the positive development of the city and we look forward to the exchange with all other financial market actors in Frankfurt and the Rhine-Main region with optimism and enthusiasm.”

Dr. Andreas Walter, Partner and Head of Banking & Finance at Schalast, says, “We see ourselves as a deeply rooted part of the culture of the city of Frankfurt am Main, the most important continental European Financial Centre. Against this backdrop, we are particularly happy and proud that, in addition to advising numerous companies already based in Frankfurt, we have been able to support many foreign companies in the financial industry in opening and establishing their German or European headquarters in Frankfurt. Precisely because banking supervisory issues are, from a legal perspective, coming increasingly to the forefront and FinTech companies from all over the world are interested in Frankfurt, we are all the more pleased to become a formal part of Frankfurt Main Finance.”

CFS Index shows a slight overall decline

The CFS Index, which measures the business climate of the German financial sector on a quarterly basis, falls by 0.4 points to 112.4 points. This slight overall decline must be examined in its individual components. The revenue growth of financial institutions developed positively in the first quarter. By contrast, the service providers report a sharp decline here, although their expectations for the second quarter remain positive. The earnings growth of the financial sector declined in the first quarter, but here too there is continued optimism for the current quarter. Growth in the investment volume of financial institutions remains constant, with service providers reporting an increase. As expected, the financial institutions cut jobs in the first quarter and expect to make further reductions in the second quarter. The service providers, on the other hand, report a slight increase in employee growth.

“The combination of stable investments and employee numbers with rising revenues and earnings reveals a slight overall positive trend in productivity in the financial sector,” Professor Jan Pieter Krahnen, Director of the Center for Financial Studies, interprets the results.

The future international importance of the Financial Centre Germany is consolidating at a high level. The corresponding value falls by 3.6 points to 123.4 points. This decline is attributable to the assessment of the financial institutions. The relevant sub-index for this group is 14.8 points down on the previous quarter, at 113.2 points. Conversely, the assessment of the service providers is very positive. Their sub-index value rises by 7.7 points to 133.6 points.

Dr. Lutz Raettig, President of Frankfurt Main Finance e.V. emphasizes: “The prevailing opinion is that the Financial Centre Frankfurt will continue to grow in international importance. The slight decline of the index is just a logical reaction to the delay of Brexit.”

Revenue growth of financial institutions positive / Strong decline in revenue growth of service providers, although expectations remain positive

There are contrasting trends in the growth of revenues/business volume between the financial institutions and the service providers in the first quarter. The corresponding sub-index for the financial institutions rises by 2.3 points to 115.0 points, with further moderate growth anticipated. The revenues of the service providers are down 9.7 points on the previous quarter, at 111.2 points, although their expectations for the current quarter remain very positive.

Revenue growth declines, although optimism persists for the current quarter

Contrary to forecasts from the previous quarter, earnings growth declined in the first quarter. The financial institutions in particular find themselves in a weaker phase of growth, with the subindex falling by 7.5 points to 101.0 points, yet they expect the trend to turn positive in the current quarter. At 107.2 points, the sub-index of the service providers is 4.3 points below its level in the first quarter. As with their revenues, the service providers remain optimistic about their earnings performance in the current quarter.

Investment volume of financial institutions stable / Service providers report increase

The growth in investment volume in product and process innovations among the financial institutions is almost unchanged in the first quarter, at a moderate level of 112.0 points (-0.1 points). A slight decline in growth is expected in the second quarter. By contrast, the service providers report an increase in their investment volume in the first quarter. The sub-index rises by 2.6 points to 114.8 points. This level is expected to be maintained in the current quarter.

Increased job cuts at financial institutions / Slight upturn in employee growth among service providers

In line with expectations in previous quarters, the financial institutions are now cutting jobs. The employee numbers sub-index for the financial institutions fell accordingly by 4.3 points to 96.2 points. Further job cuts are expected in the second quarter. Growth in employee numbers among the service providers improved slightly. The corresponding sub-index rose by 0.9 points and is now at a healthy level of 112.4 points. The service providers anticipate further growth in the current quarter.

 

CFS survey on Green Finance

In light of the growing debate over climate change and its consequences, sustainability considerations are also taking on greater importance in the financial sector. Under the headings “Sustainable Finance” or “Green Finance”, numerous initiatives have been launched to address the financial sector’s contribution to attaining climate goals. A recent survey by the Center for Financial Studies showed that the majority of the German financial industry (64%) believes that the financial sector could play a supporting role in achieving climate goals. Indeed, 17% of respondents would even attribute a major role to the financial sector. By contrast, 18% of those surveyed do not regard the financial sector as relevant to the climate goals.

“I see great opportunities for the Financial Centre Frankfurt to profit from the growing trend towards sustainable financial products as well as from trading in emission rights,” Professor Volker Brühl, Managing Director of the Center for Financial Studies, interprets the survey results.

Demand for sustainable investment products (e.g. green bonds) is on the rise. The majority of the financial industry (70%) believes that sustainability will be an important factor in how investors decide to allocate capital in the future. By contrast, 26% of respondents believe that sustainability considerations will not influence investment decisions.

On the issue of how much government influence should be exerted, the German financial industry is fairly unanimous (70%) that no government incentives such as tax relief should be offered for green bonds, nor should regulatory advantages such as lower capital requirements be granted to banks that do little or no business with companies harming the environment.

“Banking regulation should not be overloaded with climate policy goals. Firstly, the financial sector is already subject to a dense network of regulations. Secondly, looser capital requirements for environmentally friendly financing could lead to false incentives that jeopardize financial stability,” Professor Brühl adds.

Regarding the question of whether a company’s environmental impacts should be factored into banks’ corporate lending decisions (e.g. through ratings), opinions in the financial industry are rather divided. While 52% of respondents support this approach, 45% are opposed to it.

Hubertus Väth, Managing Director of Frankfurt Main Finance e.V., emphasizes: “The results clearly show that the time is ripe and sustainable products are in demand. In addition, they show that further government incentives are not necessary. This is an encouraging sign that today, sustainable products are already competitive.”

Highlighting the importance of a truly integrated financial market in Europe

Jacqueline Mills, Managing Director and Head of the AFME office in Frankfurt

Jacqueline Mills, Managing Director and Head of the AFME office in Frankfurt

In May, AFME will be holding its first conference on the topic of supervision and financial integration – here Jacqueline Mills, Managing Director and Head of the AFME office in Frankfurt, explains why AFME decided to expand its footprint in Frankfurt and what topics will be on the agenda of the conference.

In February 2017, you opened an office in the Financial Centre Frankfurt to expand AFME’s European presence. Why did you choose Frankfurt?

AFME decided to extend its European footprint into Frankfurt two years ago by opening the local office in order to deepen its relationships with some of the key EU institutions, including the SSM, ECB, and ESRB, hosted by the city. Our focus is on ECB banking supervision since  many of our members are primarily supervised by the ECB and the ECB is also a direct supervisor for a growing number of entities belonging to our members with headquarters outside the Eurozone. As the heart of German finance, Frankfurt also provides us with a base to engage with local regulators, such as the BaFIN and Bundesbank, as well as other European organisations like EIOPA which are based here.

 What are the goals of the AFME, especially with regards to Brexit?

 As a pan-European trade association, we are dedicated to the promotion of deep and liquid European capital markets. We have well-established relationships across the EU27 and the UK. AFME aims to act as a bridge between market participants and policymakers across Europe, drawing on our strong and long-standing relationships, our technical knowledge and fact-based work. Especially our work concerning  Brexit draws on that approach. In particular, we have focussed on ensuring the decision-making community is aware of the potential cliff edge or no deal risks of Brexit.  Our work has contributed to the EU27 and individual Member States, including the UK, addressing many, if not all, of these issues. Of course, uncertainty remains, and we aim to help our members navigate this. If and when the UK’s exit becomes better defined, we will – on behalf of our members – contribute to shaping the future relationship for financial services between the EU27 and UK.

What will be the main topics covered by the conference held on May 23rd, 2019? For which target group is it suitable?

AFME members’ businesses span accross multiple global regions, thus connecting end-users with sources of capital and liquidity. Yet, the global banking industry is increasingly confronted with fragmentation along national and regional lines, which creates unnecessary rigidity and costs. At European level, the economic benefits of a truly integrated market for financial services are well understood, but progress remains slow.

The conference, which is our first one held in Frankfurt, will therefore address the interplay between the EU’s various Banking and Capital Market Union projects.   Furthermore, we discuss how moving forward with these initiatives is key to having a truly integrated financial market in Europe. The conference will also identify practical suggestions for achieving the European supervisory framework necessary to support these mutually reinforcing goals and consider how to enable greater cross-border supervisory cooperation. We hope that the event will provide food for thought for the next Commission’s mandate.

Among the highlights on the agenda are keynote addresses from Dr Jörg Kukies, State Secretary, German Ministry of Finance and ECB Vice President, Luis de Guindos. We also have a vast range of speakers, including representatives from the FSB, EBA, ECB, UK PRA and the US Federal Reserve Board in addition to industry leaders from a variety of capital market businesses around Europe.

You can register to attend the conference here.

 

Interview with Andreas Lukic about the 2019 FinTechGermany Award

Andreas Lukic, CEO of ValueNet-Capital-Partners GmbH

Andreas Lukic, CEO of ValueNet-Capital-Partners GmbH

In an interview with Frankfurt Main Finance, Andreas Lukic, CEO of ValueNet-Capital-Partners GmbH and jury coordinator of the FinTechGermany Award (FTGA), explains how the award has evolved in recent years and why the “Golden Garage” should be awarded monthly.

What inspired you to establish the FinTechGermany Awards as an annual event?

In the ’90s and around the turn of the millennium, I worked in the USA and England. Upon my return, I noticed that the start-up ecosystem in the Rhine-Main region was rather small. Moreover, there was a lack of private investor networks or other initiatives bringing start-ups, investors, and clients together. Thus, I decided to join a small Business Angel Club in 2002 and became chairman of the Business Angels Frankfurt Rhein-Main in 2006. By now, we review about 900 start-ups a year and invest in about 20 to 30 – furthering the start-up ecosystem is an important factor.

With the end of the financial crisis, interest in founders grew substantially. Initiatives such as the FinTech Dialogue forum – which later initiated the TechQuartier and the FinTechGermany Award the “Golden Garage” – were formed. The award allows us to draw attention to the internationally renowned Financial Centre Frankfurt as an attractive location for founders. We cannot say “We are the coolest, the most creative and have been on the market the longest.” However, what we can say is “We are a Financial Centre – with capital and financial market competence” and we have been for more than 100 years. Furthermore, the investor-driven award demonstrates that we can evaluate to what extent start-ups are financially viable, scalable and likely to provide feasible exit options.

How has the event evolved over the years?

Approximately 180 start-ups are nominated for the FTGA every year. However, interested start-ups can also hand in applications. With about 200 participating companies, start-ups from every market segment are represented. Today, we are established enough to award the Golden Garage, with this year’s ceremony taking place in the Eurotheum. An open jury session also took place as part of the Finanzplatztag.

Which challenges were FinTechs facing in Germany during the early days of the FinTechGermany Award?

First of all, FinTechs are nothing new, but the growing public awareness is. Back in 2005, we would not have been able to initiate such an award – all the necessary resources were not accessible in one place.  However, by now it is standard practice in the financial sector to use new technologies and FinTechs are well-established.

Whereas a few years ago start-ups needed to explore new ideas and enter untapped market segments to position themselves, start-ups nowadays need to successfully become established. They have to penetrate the market to a much greater extent and be able to handle customers, competition, and profit equally well. While fewer start-ups are founded these days, we find a lot of FinTechs that are “partially or fully financed”. That is what has changed.

You have kept track of the progress previously winning companies have made to this day. Have the founders and their companies gained increased attention from investors after winning the FinTechGermany Award?

Yes, founders and entrepreneurs receive greater attention from the public after the award. The attention grows proportionally with the increasing importance of the FinTechGermany Awards.

FinTechgermany Award 2018

FinTechgermany Award 2018

A start-up – whether at the Seed/Early Stage, Late Stage or Growth Stage – always needs unique selling points. Everyone makes a lot of noise. Thus, every competition, every price and every chance of access to partners and networks is an essential aspect for a start-up. However, this effect also works the other way around: The Financial Centre and the players draw benefits from it – by forming a cooperation or increasing their number of clients.

With regards to investors: We must show that Frankfurt is worth locating to. Not just because of the networking opportunities but also because of the start-ups. Actually, we need something like the FintechGermany Awards to happen every month (laughs).

The name “Golden Garage” refers to the early beginnings of technology pioneers such as Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Larry Page. Are those career paths we can still observe today?  Or are FinTechs already moving away from garages and bedrooms to FinTech hubs and offices around the world?

The garage symbolizes the unconventional founding of which Hewlett-Packard is a prototype. There even is a museum in Silicon Valley called “the old garage”. And yes, this original founding continues to occur.

Three characteristics define a start-up hub:

1. Founding Landscape

When looking at Silicon Valley, it becomes evident that only a few founders were born there.

Hence, there is no “founding gene” that one region has or has not got. It is upon us to establish an attractive start-up landscape. This a consistent factor and the Rhine-Main region has caught up significantly over the past few years.

2. Educational Landscape

This includes universities, but also cultural institutions such as museums. The educational landscape in the Rhine-Main region has a strong focus on start-ups and their founders.

3. Finance Chain
A financing landscape must be created in which start-ups are able to get access to all forms of investments – from 1,000 to 10,00 to 100,000 Euros. That is why I always emphasize the investor-driven award and the jury’s capital market competence. Financing is our future topic. A golden garage is characterized by the fact that it a place where I can get settled while also getting my company financed. When looking at Facebook and Co.: at some point, someone gave them between one hundred and five hundred thousand dollars. At the same time, that business angel had an idea of where the start-up was heading. In the FinTech sector, we are on the right track today.

 

Andreas Lukic is the founder and managing director of ValueNet-Capital-Partners GmbH, a private equity and consulting company founded in 2000. The company focuses on investing, financing and M&A transactions in management buyouts/buy-ins as well as company successions, occasionally invests in growth-oriented companies from the corporate, SME and start-up sectors and supports their corporate development. Mr. Lukic is a member of several advisory boards, CEO of Business-Angels FrankfurtRheinMain e.V. and has been an active business angel since 1999. In addition, he supports renowned and ambitious artists as part of Schirn Zeitgenossen, Frankfurt. Please find more information on Andreas Lukic here.