The two largest Swiss banks UBS and Credit Suisse, are partnering with Swisscom, Swiss Life and Ernst & Young to launch a fintech accelerator with an international target audience.
Operating under the umbrella of the Kickstart Accelerator, the programme is aimed at the most promising fintech start-ups worldwide that are still in an early stage, with a focus on wealth management, digital identity and blockchain. The first cohort for the three-month programme starts in Zurich summer 2016.
The initiative is supported by the two local fintech associations, Swiss Finance Startups and Swiss Finance and Technology Association.
The Kickstart Accelerator, an initiative of DigitalZurich2025, aims at promoting Switzerland as a leading international location for digital companies. The Accelerator will run three other focus programmes in parallel, in the fields of food, smart & connected machines and future & emerging technologies, with the aim of supporting cross-fertilisation of ideas from the different strands.
Other fintech accelerators in Switzerland include SIX Group's F10 incubator in Zurich, and Nexussquared, co-founded by a former UBS IT manager Daniel Casteiger.
The move by the two biggest Swiss banks comes a month after a damning report from Ernst & Young which stated that Switzerland's potential as a European fintech hub is being damaged by lack of Government and bank support and a shortage of investment capital.
Earlier this month, Swiss financial markets watchdog Finma pushed through a raft of new initiatives in a bid to stimulate further growth and innovation in the country's emerging fintech sector.
Among the changes include new rules on client onboarding to cover video and online customer identification and the introduction of a less onerous licensing category for financial innovators alongside a license exempt 'sandbox' for start-up companies.