How to build your own FinTech startup

A practical guide to transforming the banking industry, with DON GINSEL & NASIR ZUBAIRI.

FinTech is without a doubt the hottest ingredient in the seething caldron of the finance and banking sector. Disruptive models and solutions are currently reshaping an industry which was seen by many as very conservative. Where does this new set of trends come from? Consumer habits have changed over the last 10 years thanks to new technologies and the exponential development of a thing called The Internet. Mobile has also become an important asset for the banking industry: $2.3B have been invested worldwide and more than 470 mobile-first startups founded since 2010. BEAST met with Don Ginsel from Holland FinTech and Nasir Zubairi, Venture Partner at FinLeap, to understand the creation process of a FinTech startup.

When he joined the financial industry, Don Ginsel, who had a background in engineering, was struck by the lack of innovation due to the large number of processes to follow. He therefore focused on how he could bring the technology to the banking sector to “change the core banking industry”. Tools were not necessarily available then…but FinTech startups were beginning to develop and Don soon realized that these startups were going to be the ones changing the world we live in. Nasir Zubairi can only agree: “I think that FinTech can solve the problem around credit and address the issue of underbanking in developing countries: as a matter of fact, around 3 billion people do not have access to the banking system”. He adds: “FinTech is about dividing the value chain of financial services, creating better services and turning providers into much more efficient ones, just like we have seen in other industries, like Telco”.

The success of a FinTech startup notably depends on its collaboration with banks and the understanding of the current legal framework. According to Zubairi, creating a FinTech startup is a “combination of good strategy and good execution”. Understanding the market is key, but what’s even more important is to understand the customers and their needs, and demands. In this respect, one of the most important steps for a FinTech startup to skyrocket is the validation of the test customer market within a short period of time. Results need to be scalable from the first days of test. While Don Ginsel is located in Holland, Zubairi chose Berlin. One must also think of London as one of the key FinTech enablers and of course

Luxembourg, which has been home to many successful FinTech companies such as Digicash, FLASHiZ or Yapital. Ginsel says:

“A NEW FINTECH COMPANY SHOULD BE SETTLED IN AN ENVIRONMENT IN WHICH MULTIPLE FINTECH COMPANIES ARE ALREADY OPERATING WHO HAVE DEVELOPED A HIGH SKILLED LABOR FORCE”

Plus, competition drives quality for companies and a wholesome ecosystem is more enticing to venture capitalists, potential customers and talents than an isolated company.

What better place to nurse a FinTech startup than Luxembourg?

In Luxembourg, startups, banks and the government are all on the same page when it comes to developing a strong FinTech ecosystem, the best example being the launch, in October 2014, of the Digital Lëtzebuerg initiative, which aims to prepare companies and the entire local economy for the digital transformation. The country launched massive investments in tech infrastructures: half a billion was spent on ultra-high speed network, international connectivity and top tier data centers over the past five years. With its proactive strategy of digital transformation, the government put innovation in financial services on top of its priority list. Government and industry experts work together in dedicated committees to discuss how to make the country more attractive to innovative high tech and financial companies, and improve the regulatory framework.

In addition to state-of-the-art infrastructures and a friendly business environment, the Luxembourg financial center is recognized for its excellence in asset and wealth management, cross-border transactions and global fund distribution. This financial excellence that serves an international clientele would benefit from high tech entrepreneurs to become more customer-centric and develop innovative solutions in data processing, analytics and cybersecurity to name a few. There is a huge pool of financial institutions ready to invest. To facilitate the development of such companies, Luxembourg has many incubators and accelerators that support innovative businesses by providing them with active guidance, along with IT providers and law firms.