Part 1: FinTech Accelerator Programs- US & Australia

FinTech is booming. Banks and Investors want to secure their part of the cake and start accelerator programs whose mission is to support start-ups financially and with know-how. The first episode of a series about FinTech Accelerator programs focuses on USA and Australia. The most interesting programs in 2015 are FinTech Innovation Lab and Citi Ventures’ & Plug and Play’s Accelerator Program in the USA and AWI ventures in Australia.

FinTech Innovation Lab

FinTech Innovation Lab is an annual twelveweek program that brings together the world’s leading banks and early-stage FinTech start-ups. It is an opportunity for young start-ups to gain insights into the banking sector, network with potential clients and get an idea about the demand for their technologies. The program selects candidates who are strong in Big Data and analytics, mobile and wireless, payments, risk management, security, compliance, and social media and collaboration technologies. It was launched in 2010 in New York by the management consulting company Accenture and the Partnership Fund for New York. Today, it operates in London and Hong Kong as well.

Since 2012, the program has supported 38 start-ups and raised 86m USD. Among the alumni of the program are companies like Aqumin, BillGuard, CBinsights and Centrifuge.

Citi Ventures’ & Plug and Play’s Accelerator Program

This program was announced in December 2014. It is a partnership between Citi Ventures and Plug and Play Technology Center in order to expand Citi’s accelerator efforts in the USA, Germany, Singapore, Brazil and Spain. Similar to the FinTech Innovation Lab, the program offers a twelveweek program and accepts 20-30 start-ups. The focus lies on mobile payments and banking and security and authentication. Benefits for participating start-ups are mentorship, feedback on product ideas and raodmaps and networking with sponsors. Equity investments in start-ups are not part of the program.

The first kick off was on 17th February 2015. The first two classes will be in Sunnyvale, California. Throughout 2015, the program will progressively go to the other target countries as well.

AWI ventures

Based in Sydney, AWI ventures is Australia’s only FinTech accelerator. The company holds minority stakes in early stage start-ups who have the potential to become successful in future. The focus lies on digital finance industry start-ups with a particular interest in direct-to-consumer wealth management services.

The Accelerator Program runs for six months with four to six teams (typically two to three entrepreneurs per team). The aim of the participants is to raise a Series A round of capital within six to twelve months.

Selected companies will get a capital injection of 100,000 USD in return for a ten percent equity stake. They can use office space in Sydney and get administrative, legal, accounting and design support. Moreover, candidates will benefit from networking with industry experts and mentors.

The first intake was in 2014. Out of 80 applicants, the following four were chosen: Debt to 10k, Equitise, MacroVue, Simply Wall St.


Other programs of interest

The Innotribe Start-up Challange is an accelerator program that operates worldwide. It was launched by SWIFT and travels around the globe holding seminars in London, Cape Town, Singapore and New York.

Anthemis is not an accelerator program, but they are one of the pioneers when it comes to investments in FinTech companies. Although Anthemis invests worldwide, more than 50% of their investments are in the US. The portfolio includes companies like Betterment or The Currency Cloud.

Leading banks in the USA provide support to FinTech companies by giving them insights into their business. Goldman Sachs for example reached out to the developer community by providing access to their source code. The idea is that developers can improve the code and the bank can discover some IT talents for future cooperation.

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