Swiss fintech vs. the world

By Madhvi Mavadiya | 2 September 2016

In conversation with bobsguide, Head of Sibos Sven Bossu highlighted that “Geneva is a very important financial marketplace within Europe and has a very strong private banking presence there. Switzerland also has a lively fintech scene.” This year’s Sibos will be held in this city at the end of this month and most importantly, aims to give Swiss fintechs a voice and the opportunity to showcase their products and services, Bossu said.

At the start of this year, Ernst and Young and the Swiss Finance + Technology Association released a report that explored how fintech is evolving in comparison to other so-called hubs like New York, London and where Sibos was held last year, Singapore. The report states that few other countries can stand out because of their financial services industry and this is evidenced by the sector contributing over CHF81 billion to the Swiss economy in 2014, according to the Swiss Bankers Association.

Despite being a good business location, having competitive tax conditions and a flexible labour market, banking secrecy has been eroded in the past few years. “This development has not only directly impacted efforts to generate new business, the underlying regulatory requirements have also tied up the industry’s resources in recent years and the fallout has tarnished Switzerland’s reputation as a financial centre,” the report read.

Leading financial centres in order of their measurement on the Global Financial Centres Index (GFCI) in 2015

  1. London
  2. New York City
  3. Hong Kong
  4. Singapore
  5. Tokyo
  6. Seoul
  7. Zurich
  8. Toronto
  9. San Francisco
  10. Washington DC
  11. Chicago
  12. Boston
  13. Geneva
  14. Frankfurt
  15. Sydney

Although Geneva is 13th on the list, the report said that it has maintained this place while other cities have fallen and its score has increased by five points. “Switzerland continues to hold impressive rankings, however, challengers from rapidly growing centres in emerging markets continue to make advances. For example, Singapore is perched on the fourth place, has a heavy focus on wealth management and is rated most likely to gain in importance.”

On the other hand, Zurich is slipping in the rankings due to the development in the financial sector during the financial crisis (down four places) and its reputation in general (down two). As a result, Zurich now only ranks seventh overall.” However, in terms of innovation, Switzerland ranks far above other countries in Europe and the US and the creators of the Global Innovation Index celebrate the country as a world leader in this space.

The EY report said that the reason for this was because of open, excellent and attractive research systems, linkages and entrepreneurship, SMEs innovating in-house and public-private co-publications. On the other hand, according to tech.eu, Switzerland is slow. “When you think of European innovation hotspots, you are not likely to think of Switzerland. There is actually a lot of innovation there…, but it is a very different type of what is seen in most other innovation clusters.”

On the one hand, it has some incredible technology and deep research facilities, but on the other hand the general ecosystem is risk averse and slow moving.…

To be continued…come back for more insights on Swiss fintech this month.

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