Articles related to fintech (financial technologies) and fintech software development.

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Hanif Nezhad is a keynote speaker during Robo-Advisors-Open Mic Night run by Fintech Trends

Michał Różański, CEO of Empirica, was among keynote speakers at the CFA Investment Summit in Warsaw.

On October 27th, 2017 the CFA Investment Summit, a key event for financial market participants in Poland, took place at the Warsaw Stock Exchange.

The event was organized by CFA Society Poland. The main media partner was the newspaper “Puls Biznesu“. The conference was divided into a series of lectures and panel sessions with the participation of nearly 250 experts from Poland and abroad.

This year’s event began with the presentation of the results of a survey commissioned by CFA Society Poland. The survey was run on a sample of more than 500 financial professionals and its subject was knowledge of fintech issues.

Its results indicate that, when asked about their knowledge of the use of new technology in the financial industry,  only 31% of respondents responded that it was very good or good. The vast majority of respondents (40%) said that they were “neither well nor poorly” acquainted with the topic.

The conference

In the first part of the conference, the speakers focused on what the opportunities and risks the fintech revolution presents, especially for companies and managers dealing with traditional investment advice.

According to a survey conducted among top experts, they absolutely do not see the threat. Almost 80% think that fintech is not a problem for them, because they are good enough that when conditions change they will adjust and win. On the other hand, for less developed professions that do not require creativity, it is indeed a threat, because these professions will disappear. The ones which stay will be specializations that require creativity, an analytical approach and communication skills – explains Krzysztof Jajuga, President of CFA Society Poland.

The next part of the conference was dedicated to robo-advisory platforms. The panel discussed the difference between fully automated models and hybrid solutions. It was attended by Empirica S.A. CEO Michał Różański, who noted:

There is space for a whole spectrum of advisors on the market – from traditional to fully automated models. Today, in a rapidly changing world, it is hard to predict  how the accents will be distributed. Since now 1 percent of  the population uses financial advisory services, there is a problem with supply/the problem lies with the supply, because it pays off for advisors to advise only the richest . This is the space for automated consultancy.

The founder of Empirica believes that the entrance of the generation of millennials in  the market, increasingly eager to use AI-based (artificial intelligence) solutions, will especially be the impetus for the development of fully automated advisory platforms, which, using a well-tailored user interface, will allow customers with lesser resources to engage more on the investment market. Which, he added, should lead to its greater democratization.

More (in polish)

Blockchain meetup sponsored by Empirica, Wroclaw

Monday June 19th a beautiful sunny day in IT-friendly Wroclaw, tech start-ups and cryptocurrency enthusiast gather together at IT corner Tech meetup, sponsored by Empirica.

The event was planned to focus on key areas of current trends in Blockchain and Ethereum.

The event began with Mr Wojciech Rokosz, Ardeo CEO presentation. The session was dedicated to introduction to the economics of token. Explaining the new changes and updates we are and we will face in our economy with this huge entrance of virtual currencies.

The event later carried on with Mr Marek Kotewicz on introduction to Blockchain, Bitcoin and Ethereum. The session was summarizing the differences between Bitcoin and Ethereum.

The third and last part of the event was conducted with Mr Tomek Drwga, Blockchain meetup organizer,  diving deeper into smart contracts and programming ( introduction to Solidity) for Ethereum.

The event ended with open discussion between the audience and speakers, and visitors were served with beverages.

 

A Blockchain based capital market systems

A broad range of innovators are creating solutions using blockchain technology. The most common are active from the ecosystem of cryptocurrencies (and related tools such as wallets). These basically provide a form of retail payments. A variety of blockchain applications across fiscal services are being contemplated, particularly about wholesale payments/correspondent banking, trade finance and other forms of trade banking. In this post, we focus on programs from capital markets and associated activities like post-trade and securities servicing.

A Blockchain based capital markets system:

Agreeing and preventing datasets of financial obligations and ownership forms the simple core of capital markets operations. This generates the continual need to reconcile data with massive systems and procedure copying, leading to high prices and protracted time to perform tasks. Could blockchain be the structural change the marketplace requires?

If we started from a blank sheet of paper now, with accessibility to efficient, well-architecture blockchain technology, we would anticipate the industry structure and processes to seem very different. The listing of each security would be held onto a flat accounting basis – that is, with multiple levels of beneficial ownership in a single ledger. There would be no requirement to run data normalization, reconcile internal systems, or consent exposures and obligations. We would have standardized procedures and solutions, shared benchmark information, standardized processing capabilities (for instance, reconciliations), close real-time data and enhanced understanding of counter party worthiness. For privileged participants such as labs, we’d have transparent data on holdings, among many other improvements. To bring this ideal scenario to life, we put out under a stylized ‘capital markets utopia’ based on blockchains and smart contracts.

 Securities transaction

Automatically verifying that another has the means to finish the transaction. (by way of example, Client A demonstrably owns the safety on the asset ledger, and Client B demonstrably owns cash on the cash ledger). Client A and Client B collectively ‘sign’ the trade by applying their private keys to unlock their advantage or money, and then by transferring ownership to the recipient via their public key. The signed transaction is broadcast into the dispersed blockchain ledger to be validated and recorded in the next update, along with a simultaneous update to some money ledger used in blockchain.

Asset servicing

Actually, securities themselves could be unbundled so that the individual cash flows, and also the rights they encapsulate, might be moved individually. Mandatory occasions and distributions could be handled via smart contracts using blockchain technology, embedded inside the securities. Complex events can be structured as easy Delivery Versus Payment (DVP) trades between investors and issuers.

With horizontal accounting, the numerous custody layers are shrunk to a single function. Presently, a single security may be held in as many as five or six layers of custody (stockbroker, sell-side lender, local custodian, global custodian, CSD, etc.) each with their own accounting viewpoints. Here the advantage is held by means of a type of wallet supplier recording the last beneficial owner.

Derivative trade

The utopian set up for derivatives represents the largest change. In the first case, unbundled securities could enable new approaches to financial technology, allowing specialists to construct bespoke instruments consisting of individual cash flows which meet precise needs in terms of timing and credit risk. These tools could be financed by issuers promoting their own instruments that fit the cash flows they expect to achieve, in essence producing swaps without the need for balance sheet intermediation.

Additionally, derivatives with blockchain will be created as preprogrammed smart contracts, catching the duties of both counter parties (for instance, margin agreements or swap requirements).

(CCP) would continue to permit traders to net their exposures. Adding collateral into the CCP in the shape of initial and variation margin could be achieved either by escrowing cash on a money ledger, or by simply devoting funds held on other asset ledgers to some security ledger. Later on, if a central bank problems publicly available digital money on demand, it might allow traders to pledge that the eligible part of their inventory to the central bank and utilize central bank money security when trading.
The smart contract may automatically recompute exposures by referencing agreed external information sources that recalculate version margin. Inter operable derivative and collateral ledgers would automatically allow the contract to call extra collateral units on asset ledgers to encourage these needs. At maturity, a closing net obligation is computed by the smart contract, Along with a payment instruction automatically generated in the cash ledger, closing Out the deal.

Empirica starts development of institutional solutions for MetaTrader 5

Empirica has announced the development of brokerage solutions for MetaTrader 5. Our company has become the institutional software provider for companies using the advanced multi-asset platform. More brokers actively switching to MetaTrader 5 generate a demand for applications expanding and complementing the platform features, while tech service providers as Empirica strive to satisfy this demand by pushing further the development of the platform and its infrastructure. 

“For the last 6 years we have strengthened our market position as leading software partner for financial institutions and FinTech companies. We have developed a very strong algorithmic engine, that has already made one of our customers the fastest market maker on Warsaw Stock Exchange. We are pioneers in developing intelligent robo-technology based on machine learning. Now in cooperation with MetaQuotes we will support brokerage firms and investment companies in MetaTrader server extensions that will meet their specific requirements and needs in relation to the forex market. The customers of MetaQuotes can benefit from our ability to combine the high technical expertise and deep industry knowledge of our team”, — says Michal Rozanski, CEO at Empirica S.A.

 

Customers who have already benefited from strong competences and experience of Empirica are Warsaw Stock Exchange, Credit Agricole, brokerage firms and robo advisors like BOS Bank, InvestHelp and Swissborg. Empirica is headquartered in Poland and set up international units in Germany, the Netherlands, Finland and Switzerland.

Implications of Blockchain in Securities industry

The exploration of Blockchain applications in the securities Industry has already begun and seems possible to pick up steam in the next several years. Many financial institutions have created in-house teams and study labs to construct and examine Blockchain networks, or are working together with third party sellers specializing in this space. In addition, companies have sought to participate in collaborative efforts with consortia to develop a frequent Blockchain frame and make industry standards.

The used cases of Blockchain applications are between the equity, debt and derivative markets. Since the implementation of these Blockchain applications advances, issues are being raised concerning how processes involving Blockchain fit within the present regulatory framework. In light of the trends, this section highlights some key factors linked to Blockchain execution and regulation.

Implementation Considerations

Developing Blockchain applications in the securities Industry can present many challenges. In trying to overcome those challenges, some of the essential considerations for market participants in executing a Blockchain network may consist of governance, operational architecture and community security.

Governance

One of the key governance principles of the Bitcoin Network Was to establish a “trustless” environment open to the general public, where no single party is responsible for, or enabled with, governing and operating the network. Although this kind of network may offer certain advantages like providing a decentralized system which isn’t dependent on any particular party to operate, it may also pose some vulnerability in case it contributes to inefficient management of the machine. As an instance, recent events have shown that lack of a central governing body for its evolving Bitcoin Network has generated concerns for the system, as participants try to ascertain an approach to handle greater transaction volume. Therefore, a Blockchain network dependent on the use of a trustless system, where no party is responsible or liable for the appropriate operation of the machine, may pose risks to investors and markets. Many market participants are working to use private Blockchain networks using a governance structure that takes into consideration that participants in the network are generally known and trusted parties.

When setting up or engaging in a private Blockchain Network, in which multiple organizations across the sector are involved, a number of the first governance questions that need to be answered relate to the operation of the network and deciding that bears responsibility for it. Below are the types of questions that market participants may wish to consider when creating a governance structure to get a Blockchain network.

· Can the governance arrangement for the Blockchain system be determined by a single entity or a set of firms? How would the pursuits of end-users, that aren’t participants on the community, be represented?

· Who would be responsible for ensuring adherence by amateurs to the prerequisites established for the Blockchain network, and how could this be ran?

· Who would be accountable for the day-to-day operation of this system and resolving any technical problems on the network?

· Who would be responsible for setting and maintaining a affordable business continuity plan (BCP) to your network, to address some unanticipated emergencies or significant business disruptions?

· How would any conflicts of interest in the performance of or participation on the community be addressed?

· How would mistakes or omissions about the Blockchain be mirrored or rectified?

Operational Structure

A Vital concern for market participants in executing a Blockchain system is discovering the operational structure of the network. The operational structure of a Blockchain system would normally include creating a framework for: (1) network participant access and related on-boarding and off-boarding processes; (2) trade validation; (3) asset representation; and (4) data and transparency demands. Following are a few locations that market participants may want to consider when creating such a framework.

On-boarding, Off-boarding and accessibility:

It is vital for a Blockchain system to launch, as portion of its operational infrastructure, the standards and processes for establishing and keeping participating members and determining their level of access. Especially, in developing a Blockchain community, applicable parties may Want to think about how they would:

· Establish eligibility standards for participants to gain access to the network;

· Establish a vetting and on-boarding procedure for new participants, including establishing an identity verification process and executing proper user arrangements prior to on-boarding;

· Grow an off-boarding process for participants that may be non-compliant or disqualified for violating securities laws, rules and regulations or for violating system rules; and establish exclusion criteria to discover previous participants which might have been disqualified;

· Memorialize the terms of engagement and code of conduct required from all participants;

· Establish varying degrees of access for different player groups (e.g., direct network participants . indirect users running transactions via direct participants)–that might include restricted access to certain data sets, and even constraints on ability to read or write about the shared ledger; and when the network includes global participants or entities from different countries, it may be desired to present special focus on regulatory requirements in those various jurisdictions, particularly as it relates to privacy and information sharing; and

· Determine which sort of access would be given to regulators.

Transaction validation:

As previously described different kinds of methodologies before launching a transaction identification methodology, network operators are most likely to evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of each methodology. In doing this analysis, some prospective questions network operators might desire to consider are mentioned below.

· If consensus-based, would it take a proof-of-concept or would it be an easy consensus algorithm? How much latency and sophistication would that add to the validation process? What is the risk of collusion by multiple parties to validate a fraudulent transaction?

· In case single-node verifier (i.e., one single node will be responsible for confirming all transactions), how would that verifier be determined? Is the simplicity and speed of a single-node verifier value the concentration of risk? What would be the backup or recovery process in the event the single-node is unavailable or endangered?

· How would the amount of nodes needed for verification be determined? If other nodes or arbitrary nodes are put up as verifiers, how could the order be established? Does this procedure expose the network to possible dangers from a number of nodes?

· What procedure will the system embrace to rectify or correct any erroneous entry that may be recorded on the shared ledgers?

Asset representation:

To the extent an asset is represented on a Blockchain network, Operators will need to determine how those assets will be based on the community. Following are a few factors operators may want to take into account in the investigation.

Will assets be directly issued and digitally represented on The system? Or would they be issued in traditional form and subsequently tokenized on the community? Would the network consider both kinds of asset representation?

• If tokenized, what extra security dangers and complexities are posed? How would any loss or theft of the conventional off-chain advantage be managed? How would asset fluctuations (e.g., stock splits and conversions) be handled?

• Will the network only permit new advantage issuance or can it allow on-boarding of present assets?

How would money be represented on this network? Industry participants are contemplating a variety of versions to ease the cash aspect of a transaction settlement. For instance, in a recent effort, a few banks are tinkering to create a virtual “settlement coin.”

• If cash-backed settlement tokens are utilized, would these tokens be termed as virtual money? Could there likely be a scenario where multiple such native tokens are made by various networks or companies? In that case, are they tradable?

• If fiat money (i.e., money that’s created by the authorities of a country to be utilized as cash) is used and settlement happens off the system through a conventional cash payment process, how, when, and from whom will the trade and asset transfer be recorded on the network?

• How will a participant’s ability to fulfill the money obligation be determined? Can a deposit be accumulated from network participants to be utilised in the event of non-payment? How will this type of deposit be calculated?

Read more about Blockchain based capital market systems here.

Are ICOs the new future of start-ups?

An ICO is a form of financing commonly known as ‘token sales’ That is particularly favourable for early-stage companies. These forthcoming business concepts are valued via artificially created currencies that, theoretically, can be quantified in terms of riches in the long run — when the thought starts making money. There’s not anything more than a guarantee that the business in question has a renewable future beforehand — no feasibility studies are undertaken. Nevertheless, investors are jumping on this bandwagon in great amounts, providing this tendency increasing momentum.

Gnosis, the decentralized prediction marketplace platform, increased Over $12.5 million at a Dutch token offering in just 15 minutes. Investors rushed to obtain Gnosis tokens (worth 250,000 Ether), which subsequently had the project valued at a whopping $300 million almost immediately. Money has been set down, not for the final product, but for a forecast, which was sufficient to kick-start the plan.

It has amassed over $1.3 billion to date this season for tech start-ups. In fact, in a number of the offerings, demand surpassed the amount of tokens available.

ICOs Happen in an intangible network, where cash is created, exchanged, and disposed of in the cloud. Cryptocurrencies are not anything more than a fixed variety of entries in a database which exist on a peer-to-peer digital money system, which is decentralized. These transactional entries are made and saved in blockchain engineering, with encryption methods being used to restrict the production of financial transfers and units. They are transactions that are initiated, accepted, confirmed, and shared by a community of peers at the ‘crypto-world.’

Start-ups interested in an ICO may create their own Cryptocurrency utilizing protocols such as Ethereum, Counterparty, or Openledger, and establish a value dependent on the amount of money a job is required to deliver to achieve the roadmap outlined in its whitepaper. This post is like a mini pattern that summarizes the project (what it’s about, what its objectives are, its conclusion milestones, the amount of funds required, the duration of the campaign, and the kind of money okay), providing a prospectus into the market to create interest. The secret is getting the people to like and believe in the thought, even though nothing yet exists in real form to show its feasibility or potential prospects. People worldwide are then able to buy the newly made tokens in exchange for established cryptocurrencies, such as Ether (ETH) or Bitcoins (BTC).

Interested investors may open their accounts on electronic currency exchange platforms and begin trading BTC and ETH for a variety of tokens for new projects. ICOs normally persist for a week or so, during which the price of the token fluctuates according to the arrangement set up from the issuers. For instance, the price can remain static to achieve a specific goal or financing goal for your undertaking. However, issuers might want to match the static provide with dynamic pricing, where the price of tokens increases in tandem with the amount of financing received. A third model might have a static cost set with a dynamic supply — for instance, where the worth of ETH 1 is set upon the inception of a token. This will continue until the startup reaches its funding target.

Read more about Blockchain and how can it change our lives.

ICOs can involve multiple rounds of fundraising, together with the this incentives investors to place their money in as early as possible to reap the maximum benefit.

Tokens do not give investors any ownership rights or asset claims. Rather, they behave as bearer instruments, providing users rights about the particular project itself, not to the company that’s launching the project. While owning the tokens doesn’t entitle their holders to vote on the direction of this job, these rights are embedded within the ICO itself, in which engaging investors give input throughout the project’s lifespan. Users may be paid for a right prediction or to receive the content they contribute through a proposal. Investors get involved in these types of actions in anticipation that the value of tokens belonging to successful projects will grow drastically, generating a greater yield on their investments.

There’s no doubt that ICOs have become highly popular, not Just with fintech start-ups, but with individuals from all walks of life. They look ideal for anybody who would like to raise capital quickly for an idea. There are a variety of motives for this. Mainly, it is the speed at which money could be raised to get a project that exists solely as a vision — that in contrast to VC financing, where shareholders will run greater examination on the direction dynamics, market size, potential dangers etc.. The simple fact that this is largely an unregulated field also make ICOs attractive in terms of there being few or no duties and costs for compliance. For example, ICOs provide their issuers with numerous rounds of fundraising, with few (if any) intermediaries. These token earnings are likewise not subject to direct taxation, with shareholders being liable to cover only capital gains taxation, depending upon the jurisdiction. What makes this process much more appealing is the ease with which cryptocurrency tokens can be made, used in trades, and traded thanks to technological growth. Issuers might no longer need to mine with complicated codes to use this kind of funding.

But entrepreneurs are not the only winners. Investors also Enjoy taking part in ICOs for a variety of factors. This includes the opportunity to create enormous profits, which may be seen by the huge yields in 2016 from Monero and NEM start-ups. ICOs also offer greater liquidity, which isn’t readily accessible VC funding where exit options may be minimal. Here, profits could be pulled out easily by converting cryptocurrencies into Bitcoins or Ether, and then into fiat money. Platforms such as Coinbase, Kraken, Poloniex, and Yunbi allow investors to market their electronic riches and obtain quick returns on investments as costs vary drastically through the day.

$25 million using its ICO. While the company had already raised $20 million from traditional VCs, additionally, it raised capital through tokens for its product Omise Go — a decentralized payment system that allows users to share money without having to deal with maintaining a bank account and incurring support or cross-border charges. Omise Go’s initial services will go live from Q4 of 2017, where nominal holders can earn money by being a part of the network.

The ICO marketplace has grown at an exponential rate over the Past couple of months. The risk that this might be another bubble, like the dotcom Crash in 2000, has generated unease. Regulators particularly believe that such a highly open market is more likely to extreme volatility. It’s a dynamic place, where numerous tokens could be made and filtered out every day. Too much need by investors (due to speculation) can lead to tragedy. The rapid development Of ICOs as a source of financing is exciting but the sustainability of ICOs and Cryptocurrencies as a whole has yet to be proven.

Three use cases of Smart Contracts in Financial services

Savings and upsides from decreasing syndicated loans settlement time

While the High-Yield Bond transactions are settled in more than three days, the settlement interval for leveraged loans frequently extends to almost 20 days. This creates increased danger and a liquidity challenge from the leveraged loan market, hampering its growth and attractiveness.
Since 2008, the global loan market has witnessed negative gain, whereas the High-Yield Bond market grew by 11 percent. We assume that smart contracts can reduce the delay in procedures such as documentation, buyer and vendor affirmation and assignment arrangement, and KYC, AML and FATCA checks, with the assistance of a permissioned ledger. With estimation that with the decrease in settlement times, if the rise of loans may be at least half that of their High-Yield Bond market growth (i.e. between 5 percent and 6%), it would amount to an additional $149 billion of loan demand on the industry. Such loans generally carry 1% to  5% of fees, translating into extra income of $1.5 billion to $7.4 billion to investment banks. In addition, operational expenses, regulatory capital requirements and costs related to delayed compensation payments throughout the settlement of leveraged loans will probably be decreased together with the shortening of the settlement cycle.

Read more about basic idea behind Ethereum and Smart Contracts here.

Mortgage business to benefit from adoption of smart contracts

The mortgage loan process is dependent upon a intricate ecosystem for the origination, financing, and servicing of the mortgages, including costs and delays. Smart contracts could reduce the price and time involved in this process through automation, process redesign, shared access to electronic versions of bodily legal documents between trusted parties, and access to external sources of information such as land records.

Our earlier study on banks back-office automation suggests that mortgage lenders may expect savings between 6 percent and 15% from business $149 billion added leveraged loan volume increase with a reduction in settlement times 11 client fills mortgage application with earnings, taxation and property details Are property documents valid and lien status in order? Reject loan application and inform the client credit mortgage accounts article verification of earlier measures calculation of the cost savings possible from the usage of smart contracts in the US mortgage sector register bank’s lien on land signatures confirmed and mortgage accounts generated customer signs the mortgage document in addition to the witness mortgage record created approved rejected credit history id check KYC & AML check check income and land LTV reject program and notify the customer mortgage adviser creates loan workflow and updates credit, id, KYC, AML information in bank’s loan workflow for mortgage origination predicated on sale of 6.1 million houses of which 64% are being marketed on mortgage mortgage loan origination cost for an average loan of $200,000 in the US (2015), minimum savings US$ 4,349.5 17 billion 396.3 (9.1%) 1.5 billion 1,528.4 (35.1%) 6 billion. These numbers, coupled with our experience and discussions with industry experts, helped us estimate anticipated savings for each of the processes involved in loan origination. For example, in the US housing market, almost 6.1 million homes were sold in 2015. Based on historical averages, 64 percent of them were bought by home owners with a mortgage. We estimate that minimal savings of $1.5 billion could be achieved by loan providers through the automation of tasks in their organizations. Further, economies of $6 billion could be achieved once external partners such as credit scoring companies, land registry offices, and tax authorities become accessible over a blockchain to facilitate faster processing and reducing costs.

We also estimate that loan clients could expect a 11% To 22% drop in the entire price of mortgage processing fees billed to them if smart contracts are adopted. The total of outstanding mortgage loans across the united states and European Union countries in 2014 was valued at $20.98 trillion. Based on the US mortgage market case, smart contracts may possibly save between $3 billion and $11 billion in the new mortgage origination process across the US and EU.

Claims processing cost savings at the motor insurance industry

We consider that, in the motor vehicle insurance industry, smart Contracts that bring insurers, clients and third parties to a single platform Also, third-parties like chargers, transport providers and hospitals — once They are part of the dispersed ledger — will be able to supply faster Support against promises to clients and can anticipate quicker settlement of claims. The united kingdom motor insurance industry dropped 3.7 million claims and spent $13.3 Billion in claim expenses and costs. We calculate that roughly $1.67 Billion, or 12.5 percent of their overall costs, might be saved by adopting smart contracts. Dependent on the United Kingdom motor insurance market, we estimate that each year $21 billion could be spared from the global motor insurance industry via the Usage of smart contracts. A portion of savings can be passed on to the Clients via reduced premiums on motor insurance policies. We estimate that the Cost savings amounts to a reduction of $90 on average on each premium payment In the event the insurers pass on each of the savings generated from smart contracts Adoption to customers, and $45 per premium in the event the insurers decide to pass On only 50 percent of economies.

Who is moving FinTech forward in continental Europe? Thoughts after FinTech Forum on Tour.

By Michal Rozanski, CEO at Empirica.

In the very centre of Canary Wharf, London’s financial district, in a brand new EY building, a very interesting FinTech conference took place – FinTech Forum on Tour. The invitation-only conference targeted the most interesting startups from the investment area (InvestTech) from mainland Europe. The event had representative stakeholders from the entire financial ecosystem. As Efi Pylarinou noted – the regulator, the incumbents, the insurgents, and investors, were all represented.

 

Empirica was invited to present its flagship product – Algorithmic Trading Platform, which is a tool professional investors use for building, testing and executing of algorithmic strategies. However, it was amazing to see what is happening in other areas of the investment industry. There were a lot of interesting presentations of companies transforming the FinTech industry in the areas of asset and wealth management, social trading and analytics.

 

The conference was opened with a keynote speech by Anna Wallace from FCA. Anna talked about the mission of FCA’s Innovation Hub; that is to promote innovation and competition in the financial technology field and to ensure that rules and regulations are respected. Whilst listening to Anna it became clear to me what the real advantage of London holds in the race to become the global FinTech capital – London has Wall Street, Silicon Valley and the Government in one place – and what’s most important, they cooperate trying to push things forward in one direction.

 

FinTech Forum on Tour

 

Robo-advisory

A short look at the companies presenting themselves at the event leads to the conclusion that the hottest sector of FinTech right now is robo-advisory. It’s so hot, that one of the panellists noted it’s getting harder and harder to differentiate for robo-advisory startups. On FinTech on Tour this sector was represented by AdviseOnly from Italy, In2experience,  Niiio, Vaamo and Fincite – all from Germany. Ralf Heim from Fincite presented an interesting toolkit ‘algo as a service’ and white label robo-advisory solutions. Marko Modsching from niiio revealed the motivation of retail customers, that “they do not want to be rich, they do not want to be poor”. Scalable Capital stressed the role of risk management in its offering of robo advisory services.

 

Social analysis/Sentiment/ Big Data

The social or sentiment analysis area, keeps growing and gains traction. Every day there’s more data and more trust in the results of backtesting as that data builds up over the years. The social media space is gaining ground. Investment funds as well as FinTech startups are finding new ways to use sentiment data for trading. And, it’s inseparably related with the analysis of huge amounts of data, so technically the systems behind it? are not trivial.

Anders Bally gave an interesting presentation about how to deal with sentiment data and showed  how his company Sentifi is identifying and ranking financial market influencers in social channels, and what they discuss.

Sentitrade showed its sentiment engine for opinion mining that is using proprietary sentiment indicator and trend reversal signals. Sentitrade is concentrated on German-speaking markets.

 

Asset management

From the area of asset management an interesting pitch was given by Cashboard, offering alternative asset classes and preparing now for a  huge TV marketing campaign . StockPluse showed how to combine information derived from social networks and base investment decisions on the overall sentiment. United Signals allows for social investing by making it possible to trade by copying transactions of chosen trading gurus with a proven track record, all in an automated way. And, finally BondIT, an Israeli company, presented tools for fixed income portfolio construction, optimization and rebalancing with use of algorithms.

 

Bitcoin and Blockchain

An interesting remark was given   by one of the panelist: ‘we have nearly scratched the surface for what blockchain technology can be applied to in financial industry’. Looking at the latest news reports that are saying that big financial institutions are heavily investing in blockchain startups and their own research in this field, there is definitely something in it.

A company from this sector of FinTech – Crypto Facilities, represented by its CEO Timo Schaefer, showed  the functionalities of its bitcoin derivatives trading platform.

 

Other fields

Hervé Bonazzi, CEO of Scaled Risk, presented its technologically advanced Big Data platform for financial institutions for risk management, compliance, analytics and fraud detection. Using Hadoop under the hood and low latency processing. Ambitious as it sounds.

Analysis of financial data for company  valuations, Valutico presented a tool that’s using big data, AI and swarm intelligence. Dorothee Fuhrmann from Prophis Technologies (UK) presented a generic tool for financial institutions to derive value and insights from data, interestingly describing indirect exposures and a hidden transmission mechanism.

Stephen Dubois showed  what Xignite (US) has to offer to financial institutions and other FinTech startups in the area of real-time and historical data that is stored in the cloud and accessible by proprietary API.

 Qumram, in an energetic presentation delivered by Mathias Wegmueller, described technology for recording online sessions on web, mobile and social channels, allowing for the analysis of user behaviour and strengthening internal security policy.

 

Conclusion

London is the place to be for FinTech startups. No city in Europe gives such possibilities. Tax deductions for investors. Direct help from the UK regulator FCA. Great choice of incubators and bootcamps for startups. No place gives such a kick. Maybe Silicon Valley is the best place for finding investor for a startup, maybe the Wall Street is the centre of the financial world, but London is the place that combines both the tech and the finance. It has a real chance of becoming the FinTech capital of the world.

 

About organizators

The people responsible for creating both a great and professional atmosphere at the event were Samarth Shekhar and Michael Mellinghoff. Michael was a great mentor of mine who transformed my pitch from a long and quite boring list of functionalities of our product to something that was bearable for the audience. Michael let me thank you once more for the time and energy you have devoted to Empirica’s pitch!

 

And because the FinTech scene in our region is not well organized yet, I sincerely advise all FinTech startups from Central and Eastern Europe to attend cyclic events of FinTech Forum in Frankfurt organized by Techfluence professionals!

 
Read about our Lessons learned from FinTech software projects.

 

 

FinTech Companies

 

 

 

Ethereum Becoming the New Platform for Startups

Why is Ethereum bringing so many new startup businesses? Is Ethereum Becoming the New Platform for Startups?
The recent rise in value of Ethereum has flipped it to more than a billion dollar capitalization and next just to Bitcoin. Its worth is more than four occasions the worth of the third place crypto-currency, XRP. .

Ethereum was produced by Vitalik Buterin, a college dropout who although enthusiased from the potential for Bitcoin, felt that there may be a much better stage. Buterin, that has been compared to Steve Jobs, feels that his invention gives a strong platform for others to develop on and produce strong applications.

Buterin recently released his first production-ready version of Ethereum but even before this release, there had been a rush of startups to utilize the open platform and create blockchain based companies for new services and products, or to encouraging their existing companies.

“We’ve seen Microsoft and IBM doing projects on Ethereum. There’s a lot of coders. It’s fascinating to see something you were in on in the early phases growing and bearing fruit,” Anthony Di Iorio, one of Ethereum’s founders and a Chief Digital Officer at the Toronto Stock Exchange, said in an interview.

In 2015, there was a rush of venture capital into Bitcoin and Blockchain companies. This season, the potential and impact for Ethereum is seeing venture cash coming in especially targeted to Ethereum based startups.

Two leading venture capital companies, Boost VC, along with Blockchain Capital, are both taking a closer look at Ethereum companies.

Boost VC is obviously signaling their interest in Ethereum companies by stressing the cohesiveness of the developers and the powerful leadership exhibited by Buterin. Brock Pierce, founder of Blockchain Capital indicates that his firm is currently looking past Bitcoin for startups this year, stating, “you are likely to see that the usage of different blockchains beyond Bitcoin, such as these permissioned ledgers that a whole lot of financial institutions are interested in, but also even other people blockchains like Ethereum.”

One startup that has many people excited is Augur, that is constructing a prediction modeling system that is made on Ethereum.

Venture money is also moving towards Ethereum mining pools such as BTCS. Charles Allen, CEO of bitcoin mining outfit BTCS, noted that his firm recently constructed custom Ethereum mining rigs as part of a pilot program due to the escalating cost of ether.

Among the top crowdfunding sites for Blockchain related ventures is BnktotheFuture, which has helped to fund companies such as Factom and Bitpay, recently raised money for an Ether mining finance.

The billion dollar capitalization of Ethereum has clearly increased its profile and possibility of its currency, Ether as a powerful form of currency and investment.

We are guaranteed to see different startups and companies that will recognize this fact and provide investing abilities to exploit the possibility of Ether as a currency.

The growth and interest in Ethereum is making it clear that the conversation about cryptocurrencies can no more be limited to Bitcoin. As more startups and cash continue to chase the potential of Ethereum it is imperative that anybody following the electronic currency space needs to keep up to date to what is going on with Ethereum.

Ethereum is a open-source, public, blockchain-established distributed computing platform comprising intelligent contract (scripting) functionality. Ethereum additionally supplies a cryptocurrency token known as “ether”, which is transferred between accounts and utilized to compensate participant nodes for computations performed. “Gas”, an internal trade pricing mechanism, is utilized to mitigate spam and allocate resources on the network.