Accenture (NYSE:ACN) and a group of 10 leading financial institutions today opened the application period for the second class of the FinTech Innovation Lab Asia-Pacific, kicking off a competitive search for the top financial technology (fintech) innovators in the region.
The 12-week program helps early- and growth-stage financial technology innovators accelerate product development and gain exposure to top-level financial industry executives. Entrepreneurs developing potentially game-changing technologies for financial services - particularly in the areas of alternative currencies, Big Data and analytics, mobile and wireless payments, risk management and compliance, as well as social media and collaboration technologies - are invited to apply. Applications will be accepted through May 31.
Senior executives from Bank of America Merrill Lynch, China Construction Bank (Asia), China Citic Bank International, Commonwealth Bank of Australia, Credit Suisse, HSBC, J.P. Morgan, Maybank, Morgan Stanley and UBS will select the winners and provide them with intensive in-person mentoring in Hong Kong.
“Accenture places innovation at the heart of financial services through programs such as our FinTech Innovation Lab Asia-Pacific, which enables financial services organizations in the region to embrace, mentor and advise startups looking to become the digital disruptors of the future,” said Jon Allaway, Accenture’s Group Technology Officer for Financial Services, who oversees the FinTech Innovation Lab Asia-Pacific. “Fintech can lead to innovations in financial services that help make customers’ lives easier and banking less costly, which is what makes mentoring startups so exciting for us.”
How the Lab Works
Through the competitive application process, the 10 financial institutions will select approximately seven startups to participate in the program, which begins in August. The entrepreneurs will be mentored for 12 weeks by leading financial services industry executives, who will help them fine-tune and develop their technologies and business strategies through a series of workshops, panel discussions, user-group sessions, networking opportunities, one-on-one meetings and presentations. The program culminates in November with an Investor Day presentation by participants in front of an audience of potential investors. In cooperation with the Lab, Cyberport will provide work space to participating entrepreneurs, and J Plus Hotel by YOO will assist with accommodations.
The FinTech Innovation Lab Asia-Pacific is modelled on a similar program that Accenture co-founded in 2010 with the Partnership Fund for New York City, the US$110 million investment arm of the Partnership for New York City (www.pfnyc.org). The New York Lab’s 24 alumni companies have raised more than US$160 million in venture financing after participating in the program; one participant was acquired for US$175 million. In 2012, Accenture and a dozen major banks in London launched the FinTech Innovation Lab London, with support from the city’s mayor and other government bodies. The 14 companies that passed through the program in the first two years raised more than US$35 million in new investment, signed nearly 50 contracts to do business with banks, and increased revenues by 170 percent. In 2014, Accenture launched FinTech Innovation Labs in Asia-Pacific and Dublin, Ireland. Participants in the Asia-Pacific Lab have thus far raised more than US$6 million.
Global investment in fintech ventures tripled over the past year, from US$4.05 billion in 2013 to US$12.2 billion in 2014. During the same period, investments in Asia-Pacific fintech ventures have also more than tripled, from US$245 million in 2013 to US$767 million in 2014.
“Participating in the Lab in 2014 enabled us to have high-level conversations with C-suite executives at multinational banks and helped us crystalize our business plan for providing advanced technology for small business lending,” said Thomas J. DeLuca, chief executive officer of AMP Credit Technologies (AMP). “Since ‘graduating’ from the program, we have attracted additional investors and expanded beyond Hong Kong, Singapore and the Philippines, recently entering the U.K. market.”
“We were impressed by the level of entrepreneurship in last year’s FinTech Lab and look forward to continuing our support of this initiative,” said Simon Lucocq, head of Asia-Pacific Technology & Operations at Bank of America Merrill Lynch. “Innovation has and will continue to be crucial in driving better outcomes in the financial services industry, and so it is important for us to foster an environment where the best ideas can be developed into market-ready solutions.”
“Our customers in Greater China are very digitally savvy, so we are pleased to be leading the way in fintech innovation by once again sponsoring the FinTech Innovation Lab Asia-Pacific,” said Arthur Wong, head of information technology at China Construction Bank (Asia). “The innovators in finance will be the ones best positioned to offer customers solutions they want, which is why we are committed to fostering fintech and bringing added values to our clients.”
“Mainland China has leapfrogged the rest of the world with its adoption of digital innovations,” said Michael Leung, chief information & operations officer, China CITIC Bank International. “Some of the solutions that are available today were purely science fiction a decade ago. This is why we are eager to support fintech’s development in Hong Kong.”
“CommBank is very excited about taking a leadership role in the fintech space in Asia,” said Andrew Farmer, chief information officer of international financial services of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia in Hong Kong. “Fintech is unquestionably going to play a big role in disrupting the industry, and we are keen to help support entrepreneurs who are thinking dynamically about ways to challenge the status quo.”
“Being innovative has been a core guiding principle at Credit Suisse, and we are delighted to partner with the FinTech Innovation Lab for the first time in Asia-Pacific,” said Lawrence Beck, head of investment banking technology, Asia-Pacific at Credit Suisse. “The region is experiencing an exciting time where we have seen a rapid growth of organically grown startups. As the “Entrepreneur’s Bank of Asia,” the Lab presents a unique opportunity for Credit Suisse to partner with entrepreneurs to develop their ideas and receive the support necessary to make them effective financial technology innovators.”
“J.P. Morgan is pleased to once again support the FinTech Innovation Lab Asia-Pacific, a program we are delighted to be involved with globally,” said Sophia Leung, Asia-Pacific chief information officer for J.P. Morgan. “As Asia continues to strengthen its reputation as a global center of technological innovation, it is imperative that the business community shares its collective expertise and resources to help today’s most promising startups become tomorrow’s technology leaders.”
“As HSBC celebrates its 150th anniversary we are proud to continue to support Hong Kong, where we are fostering new developments such as fintech innovation in the financial hub of Asia-Pacific,” said Raymond Cheng, chief operating officer, HSBC Asia-Pacific. “Fintech is clearly on the rise, and the banks that embrace it will be the ones bringing their customers fresh, new ideas.”
“We see in Asean, and across Asia-Pacific, how digitally savvy our customers are and how willing they are to embrace new solutions,” said Michael Foong, group chief strategy officer of Maybank Group. “We are pleased to be taking a leadership position in supporting fintech innovation in this region.”
“We are happy to continue our global and regional support of the FinTech Innovation Lab,” said Jim McGill, Asia chief information officer for Morgan Stanley. “This initiative helps Hong Kong and the greater Asia-Pacific region to motivate and support innovation in technology startup companies.”
"Our partnership with the FinTech Innovation Lab Asia-Pacific last year gave us an insight into what startups were thinking about and gave them an opportunity to test ideas," said James Kennedy, chief technology officer for global application delivery at UBS. “The accelerator program does exactly what it says on the tin - accelerates new ideas into the marketplace.”
“The FinTech Innovation Lab Asia-Pacific at Cyberport was a huge success last year, and we are proud to be a part of the initiative to ensure that our financial services industry is supported with the latest innovations,” said Herman Lam Heung-yeung, chief executive officer of the Hong Kong Cyberport Management Company. “Cyberport has been nurturing IT industry startups and entrepreneurs in Hong Kong for years and will continue to be a front for new businesses to flourish.”
Startups selected for the FinTech Innovation Lab Asia-Pacific will be notified by mid-July. The program will begin in August and conclude with presentations at Investor Day in early November. Finalists must reside in Hong Kong for the duration of the program. For more information about the FinTech Innovation Lab Asia-Pacific, visit www.fintechinnovationlabapac.com.