Nine leading financial technology (fintech) companies have been selected for the sixth annual FinTech Innovation Lab Asia-Pacific, a 12-week mentorship program created by Accenture(NYSE: ACN).
This year’s program set a record for applications, with submissions from more than 170 companies. The tremendous interest underscores expectations of growing demand from financial services firms for digital solutions to streamline their businesses, keep costs in check, and launch innovative products to boost their bottom line.
Leveraging AI, RegTech, blockchain and other technologies, the nine selected startups have developed innovations addressing financial education and planning, corporate banking and other key areas. The solutions are designed to help financial institutions address a variety of challenges, from keeping up with compliance requirements and analyzing large volumes of structured and unstructured data to building more-personalized customer products and services.
“The program is going from strength to strength, as demonstrated by the record number of applicants this year,” said Piyush Singh, a senior managing director in Accenture’s Financial Services practice in Asia-Pacific and Africa and regional program sponsor for the Lab. “The program gives startups the opportunity to fine-tune their business plans and services while enabling participating financial institutions to get a glimpse of innovations that will shape the industry for years to come.”
Five of the nine startups selected are from Hong Kong and one is from Shenzhen, a sign of the growing importance of the so-called Greater Bay Area in southern China as a mecca for technology and finance.
“Leading Chinese companies, start-ups and more established institutions are exploring new ideas and spurring continuous innovation to stay ahead of the game, which is building a more robust fintech ecosystem in the Greater Bay Area,” Singh said. “The region can serve as a significant catalyst for growth and innovation going forward.”
The FinTech Innovation Lab Asia-Pacific is a collaboration between Accenture and leading financial institutions. The principal financial institutions for the 2019 Lab are: Bank of America Merrill Lynch; BlackRock; Credit Suisse; Goldman Sachs; J.P. Morgan; Macquarie Group; Morgan Stanley; Societe Generale; Standard Chartered; Sun Life; and Zurich Insurance Company Ltd. Supporting financial institutions are: AIA International Limited; China CITIC Bank International; Dah Sing Bank; Generali; Manulife; Maybank; Natixis; Saxo Markets; and ZA International.
The Lab will partner the fintech start-ups with senior executives from the financial institutions, as well as with technology entrepreneurs and industry experts, to help the companies fine-tune and develop their technologies and business strategies through a series of one-on-one meetings and user-group sessions, workshops, and networking opportunities, helping them connect with potential customers at top institutions.Cyberport, one of the Lab’s founding partners, will provide workspace to participating start-ups. It houses the largest fintech community in Hong Kong, with 350 companies, offering start-ups funding, incubation programs and a dynamic network of like-minded innovators from around the world.
The Lab culminates in November with selected participants presenting at Demo Day in front of an audience of venture capitalists and financial industry executives.
· AiXPRT Asia – a UK-based company with world-leading automated risk, compliance and audit solutions using artificial intelligence. Its iXPRT Platform uses cutting-edge AI technologies to produce a simple, intuitive and powerful automated audit and compliance tool.
· BAM Fintech – a Hong Kong- and Singapore-based startup whose RoboJean virtual bank relationship manager uses data mining, data analytics and cloud computing to perform macro-economic, fundamental, technical and quantamental analysis. Equipped with multi-asset advisory capability across 50,000 underlying investment instruments around the world, RoboJean leverages AI to democratize research and make complex finance simple for investors.
· Datarama – a Singapore-based startup whose unique engine with natural language processing and graph database technology analyzes large volumes of structured and unstructured data from multiple sources in multiple languages to answer the most complex due diligence questions quickly and simply. The tool can be accessed on Datarama’s web platform or integrated into clients’ systems.
· FirstHive – a U.S.- and India-based intelligent customer data platform that builds unique customer identities by ingesting data from all sources of customer interactions and transactions, using machine learning to layer them with actionable campaign-targeting recommendations and deliver a significant increase in marketing ROI.
· Interlinkages Online – a Hong Kong-based online marketplace that makes cross-border trade finance cheaper, faster and easier for corporates and small and medium-sized enterprises by giving them access to otherwise inaccessible banks. It offers banks borderless solutions for deal origination in international markets and enables them to finance deals that they would otherwise never find.
· LeapXpert – a Hong Kong-based startup that helps financial institutions ensure compliant communications with their clients. The LeapXpert platform reduces adoption barriers by enabling clients to use messaging apps of their choice, such as Whatsapp™, Wechat™, Line™ and others, while storing all communication history safely and centrally within the company, with optional integration into enterprise-facing systems.
· MediConCen – a Hong Kong-based startup that provides blockchain and innovative solutions to the insurance and financial industry. Combining domain knowledge, understanding of regulations and technical know-how with a staff of former senior insurance executives, serial entrepreneurs, senior programmers and investment bankers, MediConCen launched the first blockchain-based medical ecosystem, providing a seamless claim experience to insurers, medical networks, doctors and general customers.
· Mellow – a Hong Kong-based FinTech and EdTech startup that serves as a personal finance and digital payment solution for children and parents, enabling parents to teach kids to be financially responsible by developing proper saving, spending and earning habits with real money through a mobile app.
· Webot – a Shenzhen-based AI startup whose finance knowledge graph, intelligent customer service and intelligent marketing and sales assistant enable insurance firms, securities companies and banks to increase operational efficiency while reducing cost, risk and processing time of the full sales and service lifecycle.
Launched in Hong Kong in June 2014, the FinTech Innovation Lab Asia-Pacific has received nearly 800 applications since its inception, with 41 companies participating to date. Alumni companies from the Lab have raised US$520 million after participating in the program.
The FinTech Innovation Lab Asia-Pacific is modelled on similar programs that Accenture co-founded in New York and London in 2010 and 2012, respectively. Globally, the Labs’ alumni companies have raised a total of about US$1.9 billion in venture financing after participating in the program.