Rietumu sponsors Latvian fintech challenge

Source: TechHub Riga

This spring a major international competition for startups – the Rietumu FinTech Challenge 2016 by TechHub Riga Academy – will take place for the second time in Latvia.

Startups from all over the world engaged in Fintech development will be able to participate in the event.

The winning startup will be awarded a cash prize, which can be invested into business development.

General Partner of the competition is Rietumu Bank.

Technology projects within the area of financial services are one of the most popular, and promising, startup trends. There is growing cooperation between Fintech and traditional financial institutions, to the potential great benefit for both sides. As previously reported, at the end of 2015 Rietumu Bank and the largest Fintech and IT-startup community in Latvia - TechHub Riga - announced their continued partnership, based on the success of their previous joint efforts. Among other things the decision was made to organize a second Rietumu FinTech Challenge by TechHub Riga Academy, following the success of the first such event in the spring of 2015. Many of last year's participants managed to attract funds, obtain licenses, and start operating in the Latvian and European markets.

A number of small business incubators already operate in Latvia and networks of business “angels” are looking out for promising startups. Just this February, the Latvian Startup Association, Start in Latvia, was founded, its inaugural meeting, with 30 members, taking place a few days ago. The association’s goal is to develop and promote the startup ecosystem in Latvia and integrate it abroad, as well as fostering cooperation among its members, and protecting their interests.

According to experts, one of the factors deterring startup development is an overly complicated regulatory approval system. A multilevel normative framework has until now imposed certain difficulties for Fintech projects. Based on international practices, strengthening lobbying practices and cooperating with government agencies has helped Fintech startups bring their concepts to market, earning the trust of customers and monitoring institutions, as well as attracting investors.

It is significant that global venture funds are not the only interested parties in this arena. Private investors are also ready to actively invest their funds in the new Fintech business models. A recent survey by Accenture, the consulting company specializing in integration of IT technologies, shows a high degree of optimism. About 80% of respondents among potential investors consider Fintech to be a majorly innovative idea generator for businesses. The appearance of such growth trends is based on the most successful and brightest business ideas. An excellent example of this in Latvia is the number of Latvian payment institutions: Dеcta, Swipe.lv, Monea, Mintos, and Twino, to name a few.

As one of the association’s members and a Member of the Board at Rietumu Bank, Renat Lokomet puts it,
“This competition is intended to support the positive trends which we have recently observed. The event is intended to provide opportunities to the participants and to not only attract development funds but also to introduce their innovative Fintech ideas to the business community at this time of “new age banking”, coming to the attention of potential partners and investors, and introducing to the world their unique vision of Fintech development.”

As noted by TechHub Riga management,
“Last year’s competition was one of the first events focussed directly on Fintech. And taking into account its success we have decided that it is necessary to continue working on the strengthening Fintech sector in Latvia! Rietumu Bank became an excellent partner in the realization of this plan.”

Competition participants are coming from the Baltic countries and CIS, Central and Eastern Europe, and Scandinavia.

Entry to the competition will continue until the 8th of April. Anyone with a project that fits within the competition criteria will be able to participate.

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