The terminology of Venture Capital is ridiculous & disconnected from reality

When reality changes fundamentally but the terminology has not changed we get things as ridiculous as:

– Seed Rounds on Crowdfunding platforms that look like a Series C of old (e.g Ethereum raising $15m for a code-less concept).

– Something called Pre Seed that people grappled to name and so they come up with “Embryo Fund”. When somebody decides that the Embryo Stage has become too crowded, some bright spark will figure out the process that creates an embryo, but I won’t name that because this is a family blog 🙂

– Incubators being re-named Accelerators because the Incubator name is associated with the Dot Com collapse.

– The “Shovel In Round” that raises more money than an IPO in the past. The big money -Sovereign/Hedge/Mutual Funds – want to get in before your average Jane gets a chance of investing at the IPO stage.

– the IPO that is being run by the CMO not the CFO. The IPO is now a consumer-branding event. Want $100m capital – call a couple of Sovereign/Hedge/Mutual Funds. Heck, call a VC Fund. Want your company name on the front page and your CEO on TV – do an IPO. When everybody ignores advertising online, this is the best marketing you can do.

– The $1 billion valuation round that garners Unicorn headlines is like the IPO of the Dot Com era (in terms of money raised and marketing value). Except this time the risk is on the founders and management because the investor is protected by Preference Shares/Liquidation Rights. However the value of the headlines may make it worthwhile, because that leads to growth and with enough growth the Preference Shares/Liquidation Rights become a rounding error.

– Multiple rounds all led by the same VC Fund with a financial return greater than 90% of the entire VC industry (Sequoia Capital into WhatsApp for $19 billion exit).

– actual early stage funding being done by Founders, Friends, Family & Fools (Fx4) and Personal Incubators (cashed out founders paying developers for a few months).

The reality that has changed;

  • Cost to build a digital product has crashed and continues to crash. There is no Moore’s Law type calculation or name for this but it is far more dramatic and disruptive than Moore’s Law. This is a consequence of increasingly powerful open source, APIs, white label licensing and cloud computing. Add fire sale IP acquisition from ventures that run out of cash to this massive reduction in cost to build a Minimum Viable Product.
  • The reduced time from launch to massive scale. For products that “catch fire” (through network effects, viral growth, word of mouth buzz) the time to scale has become so short that traditional fund raising models no longer apply. This is a consequence of about 50% of the world’s 7 billion people having mobile phones connected to the Internet. This means that billions of people have new human needs and have a simple “click here” way to meet those needs.

From a risk-adjusted return on capital perspective (the only thing that matters to investors) there is only one venture life-stage event that matters – Product Market Fit (PMF).

The law of supply and demand is one of the very few things that have not changed in a world where everything seems to be changing at a bewildering pace. The only way to make money as an investor is to find a supply/demand imbalance. You have to find a market where the demand for capital is high but the supply of capital is limited.

A couple of years ago there was a great supply/demand imbalance in what at the time was called Growth Equity but which has become another meaningless name as everybody flooded into the same space (VC is really Growth Equity, but so is Hedge/Sovereign/Mutual). It did not take long for massive amounts of capital to flood in because the Fund managers only needed to look at three simple financial metrics – month to month revenue growth, gross margin at the unit economic level and the cash flow break even point. Getting a business to that stage is still really hard. Deciding whether to invest is relatively easy.

Today, the supply/demand imbalance is at the Pre PMF stage. From PMF to Growth might be only 3 months and then capital floods in. Nobody wants to fund PMF risk. Everybody is running from this risk. There is a good reason for this because the failure rate is very high. The answer is simple pooling and diversification and the financial industry is good at doing this. It used to be you needed 10 ventures to get a shot at one that made it big. In this new world and when looking at Pre PMF the ratio maybe more like 100/1 or more. That is the logic of new VC firms such as 500 Startups, Techstars, Y Combinator.

Fintech is slightly different when you look at this from a PMF perspective. Fintech creates a consumer product. I am using consumer as short-hand to cover all users who take an individual action whether they are consumers, or small business owners as opposed to B2B products where you need to convince multiple people in a large company to write a check. Some Fintech ventures may sell through channels by pitching to developers or banks, but in the end something has to resonate with consumers.

To launch a Fintech product to consumers where money changes hands you need things like regulatory approval and 5 nines reliability. Facebook may use Whatsapp for Payments, but only after Facebook has secured the necessary regulatory approval. Launching a Fintech startup without these will ensure that you do NOT achieve PMF. Launching a Fintech startup with these will ensure that it takes a bit longer and costs more money to launch. The Zuckerberg Faceboook story – a few months of coding and then it catches fire – is inspiring but applies to the social media era and is a mirage when it comes to Fintech.

The Pre PMF cost in Fintech is a little more but not a lot more. It is really a question of having the right people on the team. You need the millennial developers, but you also need the veteran bankers and the person who can dress smart to talk to the regulators. There is often a technical fix to a regulatory hurdle and the regulators are more open than they used to be because a good regulatory environment drives job growth and that is fundamentally what the politicians want.

Regarding naming, I avoid using the term Venture Capital or VC as it has become meaningless. I also avoid Private Equity as a name because a lot of the financing is public on crowdfunding and secondary markets. The name I use is Innovation Capital. I have no idea if the name will catch on, I just wanted a name that was not loaded with connotations that got in the way.

Related reading:

How Global Banks can make Acquire Hire work in Fintech using the Pirate model

Swiss Banks could create a different model for Fintech innovation capital

Fintech City Tour goes to Singapore to discover the intersection between China and India

It is no secret that this is the Asian century and that the two biggest players are the elephant (India) and the dragon (China).

One of the first stops on the Fintech City Tour was Hong Kong. Given the importance of the China market, it was possible that Hong Kong would be the Fintech Capital of Asia. We returned again to look at what is happening in Mainland China.

A couple of eons ago (in 1994), I moved from New York to Singapore to help Misys grow their Asian business. It was obvious even then that China and India were the two big markets that we needed to move into and that I could not afford to do both at the same time. I chose India because I could speak English there and the legal framework was comfortable for me. There was also a market entry opportunity that I was able to grasp because the Reserve Bank of India around 1994 was licensing new banks (what we now call Challenger Banks) to create competition in banking services that would help the economy.

So I know Singapore and the nexus between Singapore and India very well. What impressed me was how good Singapore was at creating high value services that connected to both China and India. Although I knew the Singapore/India nexus well at first hand, I had friends who worked the Singapore/China nexus. That ability to do good business with the two big economic powers of Asia is why Singapore is increasingly seen as the Fintech Capital of Asia.

In October of this year I will return to Singapore as a Judge for the Innotribe StartUp Challenge at SIBOS (the annual global gathering of the Fintech community).

I left Singapore in 1996. So I needed a good guide to the current Singapore Fintech scene and found Ravi Patel who is the Co-Founder of a Fintech startup called HomePay.

In addition to HomePay, these are the Fintech startups that look interesting:

SmartKarma (collaborative platform for institutional investment research)

WeInvest (investment discovery using social)

MatchMove (prepaid/platform-as-a-service)

MoneySmart (price/product promotion platform)

SmartPesa (m-pos, reviewed on Monday)

MoneyThor (marketing analytics for Banks)

BitX (Bitcoin exchanges in multiple countries)

OneLyst (loan comparisons)

DragonWealth (customer acquisition for wealth managers)

Home Pay (household planning & payments using mobile pre-paid)

Who have I missed?

Landscape Report: Programmable Bank

This Landscape Report could also be called Bank APIs. I like the name Programmable Bank because it resonates with Programmable Web.  It implies a Mashup approach to system development. This is fundamentally different to the huge, multi year core banking enterprise system development of the past.

This is a big enabler for digital only Challenger Banks and for any consumer-facing Fintech ventures.

I have already covered Fidor because their combination of Challenger Bank plus API is revolutionary. This is what could be called Banking As A Service. Fidor is making waves again today with their announcement that Fidor:

“has extended its partnership with German Bitcoin marketplace to offer its customers the option to send and receive BTC payments directly from bank account to bank account. The move comes in tandem with Fidor’s expansion into the US, where it will seek to offer similar services in permissible states.”

Fidor is not the only player in this game. Other ventures offering bank services as an API include:


Open Bank Project

BancBox (re-named Finxera)

One thread that surprised me is how many of the ventures in this category hail from Germany, including Fidor, Figo and Open Bank Project.

The one that comes from America, BancBox/Finxera, has the mission of embedding banking functionality into non-financial services. Not only do existing Banks have to worry about Challenger Banks and Fintech startups. They also have to worry about their peers in the Global 2000 moving into banking. This is already happening with retailers, telecoms and tech companies moving into banking.

This strategy of targeting developers has been proven to work time and time again. The latest success story is Twilio, soon to have their IPO debut. Twilio is relevant to this story because it is a domain-specific platform (Telecoms in their case).

There are also a number of ventures that offer more specialized APIs, such as:

  • Yodlee, for access to multiple accounts for PFM type services.
  • Xignite, for access to market data.
  • Traxpay (Germany again), for access to B2B payments.

The Programmable Bank trend does not only come from ventures setting out to build a platform for developers. The API is now a standard growth strategy even for consumer-facing ventures. For example Lending Club has an API.

It has been the norm for some time to build digital ventures using Programmable Web mashups. What is new is for Fintech developers, working on more functionally complex systems, to be equally spoiled for choice.

This will accelerate Fintech innovation by further reducing the time and money it takes to build a Minimum Viable Product.


For Bitcoin to get mass adoption in Underbanked, it has to be more like M-Pesa

The meme that mass adoption for Bitcoin will happen first in the developing world is spreading fast.

I don’t buy it.

These stories are written by people in the West who are Bitcoin enthusiasts and who are depressed by the lack of mass adoption in the West. So, they grasp at the straw that Bitcoin will be adopted somewhere else that they do not really understand.

The grass is not always greener on the other side.

I think that Bitcoin will find mass adoption in the West quite soon, but that is another story.

The Bitcoin in the developing world meme is connecting two dots:

  • Dysfunctional currencies in countries such as Argentina. The story here goes that Bitcoin could be a great alternative to a currency facing hyperinflation. That is true. When Zimbabwe was suffering hyperinflation, you would prefer to hold Bitcoin than Zimbabwe dollars. Sure, but in practice, US dollars on the black market are easier as a medium of exchange. The Bitcoin enthusiast response that Central Bank printing means that US dollars won’t hold their value is perfectly true – and utterly irrelevant to the people who just want a medium of exchange to buy food and other stuff to live their daily lives. This story is confusing Bitcoin as an asset for speculation/investment (what the West is interested in) with Bitcoin as a medium of exchange (aka currency) which is what the Underbanked need in their daily lives.
  • Remittances. Yes, the cost of remittances is way too high and yes, it is a massive market; but when you try solving this with Bitcoin, you soon bump up against the on ramp and off ramp problem. Bitcoin enthusiasts may retort that the on ramp and off ramp problems only occur because governments want to protect their ability to print money. That may be true, but entrepreneurs create services for the world that actually exists today, not the world that they think should exist. This story is confusing Blockchain based technology (Bitcoin upper case) with bitcoin the currency (lower case). It is an easy confusion to make; I still struggle to remember which one is upper case B and which one is lower case b.

Bitcoin has one massive advantage over M-Pesa – it is an open platform. M-Pesa only works great in countries where Vodafone is dominant. However in the real world of the Underbanked, M-Pesa has two massive advantages:

  • The ability to cash out via roadside stores. In Kenya there are 40,000 that are M-Pesa agents. You get your M-Pesa units on your phone and turn them into spending cash at one of these ubiquitous agents. The Bitcoin enthusiasts will point out that this is a backward step, that you should be able to spend your digital currency directly with merchants rather than handling messy notes and coins (and that this simply preserves the Fiat monopoly over money). That again is railing against how the world works. M-Pesa is dealing with the way the world actually works today.
  • M-Pesa works on the most basic low cost phone. To Bitcoin enthusiasts in the West this seems so silly “don’t they understand Moore’s Law and see that we will all eventually have smart phones?” Entrepreneurs understand the difference between inevitable and imminent. Yes, it may be inevitable that most of the 7 billion people on the planet will have a smart phone. However try predicting when that will happen and try persuading somebody earning $500 a year (when you move beyond subsistence farming and start needing a way to send and receive money) that a smart phone is an important investment (compared to food, medicine, housing and education).

I can only see three ways that this can play out:

  • An entrepreneur figures out how to offer those two advantages using Bitcoin.
  • Vodafone creates an open version of M-Pesa so that it gets traction in countries where Vodafone is not a big player.
  • Some new solution emerges that delivers the best of both worlds (M-Pesa and Bitcoin).

How Banks can make Acquire Hire work in Fintech using the Pirate model

Acquire Hire tends to mean:

  • The venture raised small amounts of capital (Friends & Family, Angels) but could not do a Series A and so was running out of cash.
  • The announcement usually does not show the amount the acquirer paid. This protects the reputation of the Founders and Investors who claim “Exit” on their track record.
  • The Investors usually don’t make a return and may lose money. Early stage investing is a win some/lose some game, so that is OK (as long as the Angel is reasonably diversified).
  • The Founders get a pay check and (this is the bit that matters) get to see their vision become reality.

I am now going to attempt to channel John Cleese who had a hilarious sales training video about “how to lose a sale” which is more memorable than all the “how to win a sale” materials.

How to mess up an Acquire Hire deal:

  • Lock them in with a 1-2 year earn-out period


  • Take the passion they have for the product that they built and kill it on the same day that you kill their product.

You have now converted the passion that makes engineers want to work crazy hours and think about problem solving whenever they have a spare moment and turn them into just another clock-watching average engineer.  they will collect a pay check and watch the clock till 5pm rolls around and then after 1-2 years they will leave taking everything they learned at your company to their next startup.

The fundamental mistake is to say:

“We found a great team that built a lousy product”

Of course, nobody says “lousy product”, but actions speak louder than words. If you kill the product, your actions say it is lousy, even if the corporate PR cranks out something about “not fitting our strategic direction”.

Unless you think it is a great product, pass on the deal.

The product has clearly not achieved Product Market Fit (PMF). If it has achieved PMF, VC money will flood in and you can no longer close an Acquire Hire deal. So you have to think the product is potentially great but needs some combination of:

  • Time for the puck to catch up. Some products are just ahead of their time. The entrepreneur skated to where the puck was headed but got there before the puck got there. That might sound cool, but it is a venture killer. It usually means they assumed that something external would be in place (e.g. mainstream adoption of global wallets as a precursor to Micropayments). In the meantime, they ran out of cash.
  • Regulatory approval. The lean startup model is tougher in Fintech. To launch a Fintech product where money changes hands you need things like regulatory approval and 5 nines reliability. Launching a Fintech startup without these will ensure that you do NOT achieve PMF. Launching a Fintech startup with these will ensure that it takes longer and costs more money to launch. The Zuckerberg Faceboook story – a few months of coding and then it catches fire – is inspiring but applies to the social media era and is a mirage when it comes to Fintech.
  • Minor UX change. The growth hackers know what it takes to get users to click the button that leads to engagement that finally leads to revenue. If you find a team that is running out of cash/time but says they know exactly what they need to do to get PMF but that just needs a few more months – they could be delusional or they could be right.

Culture is partly driven by deal and organizational structure. You cannot change the culture of the whole bank quickly enough to make the engineers feel buzzed about going to work on Monday morning. If you integrate the Acquire Hire team into your existing culture, you will make all the mistakes listed above in “how to mess up an Acquire Hire deal”. However if you simply buy a stake or buy the whole business and it has no connection to the Bank’s strategic objectives, all you are creating is a VC/PE firm within the Bank. While that VC/PE unit within the Bank may generate good profits, it does not create the needle-moving transformational change. The people running the VC/PE unit compete with pure-play VC/PE firms and eventually they find themselves focused on purely financial returns on a deal, making the Bank’s strategic objectives a minor consideration at best.

So there needs to be a middle ground between jamming a few engineers into the org chart and having them simply view your Bank as a VC.

The new model that can make the Acquire Hire model work needs to learn from what Google did with Android, which was inspired by what Steve Jobs did with the Mac team. I describe this in my post on Bank culture. Steve Jobs – as so often – is the great inspiration with the way he got the Mac product built within Apple by a team that were encouraged to view themselves as “pirates” within the organization. Google took the same approach when they acquired Android; they made sure that Andy Rubin and team wanted to stay at Google to help transform Google for the mobile era.

The Google Android story illustrates 3 key points that will help Banks use Acquire Hire and other acquisitions to create transformational change:

  • The mandate has to come from the CEO. This is a cultural shift at the top because CEOs and Boards are supposed to spend time on big deals that make a difference to the next few quarters. Spending time on a deal that might be only valued at a few $ million and that could take many years to move the revenue needle, is not normal.
  • Being early is OK if you spend very little. This is the “sandbox” era when the job is simply to get a great team, align them to a big blue ocean market opportunity and then get out of the way. This is pre PMF. The Google acquisition of Android in 2005 for $50m was Pre PMF.
  • Be prepared to spend a lot Post PMF. This is when as Peter Vander Auwera of SWIFT Innotribe so eloquently puts it – it is time to get innovation out of the sandbox. Google made many more acquisitions in mobile. Many were traditional M&A deals for acquiring current revenue and profit. Others were bolt on deals. However, all of this was possible because of a clear strategic vision very early of “where the puck is headed”, plus an entrepreneurial team that was focused on the big objective. In simple terms:


  • Pre PMF = Cheap and in the Sandbox (protect the fragile innovation)


  • Post PMF = Expensive and Grown Up (get out into the real world and conquer it).

The key structural issue is how to operate Post PMF. Google in 2005 was still able to motivate Acquire Hire teams with Google stock options. Banks cannot easily do that today, because a) the amount of stock options that engineers can get in a bank are limited and b) the chance of a 10x upside in the Bank stock is unlikely (but this is the normal expectation, however delusional, in a startup).

The way to get around this is to take the acquired venture through 3 stages:

  • Stage # 1: Pre PMF. This is within the sandbox, but keeping the brand independent. This stage costs very little. The team is encouraged to think like pirates (aka like entrepreneurs) knowing that Stage # 2 is the next milestone.
  • Stage # 2: Post PMF. This is when the Bank can bring in outside investors and get the venture out into the real world. The Bank can keep a right of first refusal to enable Stage # 3. That does limit the upside to some degree but a) the risk is reduced for investors so the deal should still be attractive and b) the valuation multiple range is not so wide that one cannot get an independent valuation to set the price.
  • Stage # 3: Post IPO scale. This is when the Bank can bring it back in-house to get to Bank Scale. Post IPO scale is typically $100m plus revenue. The Bank wants to get this to $1 billion plus revenue to move the needle. This is when the Bank can start to deploy other assets such as brand, cross-selling and capital because the venture is already mature enough for this kind of commitment.

It is Stage # 2 that is counter-intuitive to Banks. Why sell off a stake in order to only buy it back in at a later date? The Bank does not lack the capital to fund this expansion stage. There are four reasons to do this:

  • The best VCs have real expertise in scaling young ventures. Their money is irrelevant at this point. The Bank has money. The Bank does not have a track record to scaling a venture from PMF to $100m plus annual revenues.
  • Stop the young venture from being highjacked by an existing division of the Bank. That division may feel threatened or might want to grab the opportunity. This will kill the innovation because “when you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail”.
  • The team brought into the Bank in the Acquire Hire deal can now be motivated by what got their juices flowing in the first place. You now have a carrot which is far more effective than stock options in your bank and it does not cost you anything unless they create real value in the market.
  • This can also help get over one of the trickiest issues in Acquire Hire deals which is the lack of alignment between Investors and Founders. The Founders do OK in Acquire Hire deals. Investors often lose out. The possibility of bringing investors back in at the Post PMF Stage # 2 offers a way to “sweeten the deal”.

If a venture makes it through all three stages, Banks have innovation that moves the needle. More importantly, the CEO can point to the culture that created this rapid value creation as the culture to be emulated Bank-wide. By this stage the innovation cannot be shot down by naysayers because is neither a) wild, wishful thinking, but real hard revenue growth and b) it is not external disruptive innovation but “our disruption”. In short, this 3 stage process is a way out of the innovator’s dilemma.


SmartPesa could bring the Underbanked into the credit economy

SmartPesa hails from Singapore, the next stop for the Fintech City Tour.

From the name, I assumed SmartPesa was something to do with M-Pesa, but it seems to be just a clever way to say SmartMoney (pesa means money in Swahili). Thorsten Neumann of SmartPesa pointed out that Swahili is a language spoken by +-100mil people in East Africa.
Africa is a big market. According to BCG (Boston Consulting Group) there will be 400 million mobile phone owners in the region with an income of at least $500 a year by 2019.
Although SmartPesa is based in Singapore, Thorsten spent 3 years in Rwanda/Democratic Republic of Congo, so he knows the market in Africa where M-Pesa is the game-changer. Thorsten pointed out that their opportunity was in all the emerging markets including SE Asia and Central America, not just Africa.
SmartPesa is like Square for the rest of the world.
There is a physical SmartPesa device that plugs into the phone, just like Square. However, the differences with Square illustrate three interesting trends in Fintech:
  • SmartPesa is compliant with EMV L2 chip cards. This is rather than the antiquated mag strip technology that is now only used in America and which even America will start phasing out from October 2015 onwards. Square is obviously gearing up to offer this as well. This is one market where America is playing catchup.
  • SmartPesa works through Banks. The Banks do the merchant acquiring. Square does its own merchant acquiring. Startups without access to large pools of VC money are likely to take a cooperative approach with Banks rather than trying to replace them entirely.
  • Mobile disruption. The countries that leapfrog to mobile are more likely to invent the game-changing innovation because necessity is the mother of invention. In America, it was niche markets (such as Farmers Markets) that needed Square; most retailers already had fixed line POS.
The key to M-Pesa is those 40,000 agents (in Kenya alone) who operate the small roadside shops where you can cash out your M-Pesa digital currency. These roadside shops are ubiquitous in emerging markets. These Micro Businesses are key to economic growth in these countries. They are like a decentralized Walmart. They do everything via mobile phones and via cash (or mobile money cash equivalents like M-Pesa). That is why a venture like SmartPesa that aims to bring these roadside stands into the credit economy is significant.

Fintech City Tour goes to New York to see Bits of Destruction hitting Wall Street

For many years I was happily an Englishman in New York. Asking me to name a favorite city – London or New York – is like asking me which of my kids I like best.

So I am not taking sides in the Fintech Capital of the World debate.

Fintech in New York is a big and vibrant scene. So I needed a good guide with his finger on the pulse. That is @brunoswerneck. I asked Bruno the usual questions:

  • What’s hot?
  • What’s emerging?
  • What’s trending?

I got very thorough research by Bruno. Consider this a guest post from Bruno with a bit of editorializing from me.

The first thing Bruno pointed out was New York’s strength in trading and asset management (which is not surprising as New York is home to the biggest Equities and Fixed Income markets in the world). Firms to highlight:





Asset Management

Betterment (which recently raised a $60mm round at a $500m valuation).



Sliced Investing

Private Markets




This is Bits of Destruction hitting Wall Street. Bits of Destruction was a phrase coined by Fred Wilson of Union Square Ventures in this post eons ago in 2008. It is another way of saying digitization or digital economics. It is appropriate to use a phrase coined by Fred Wilson because his firm has proven that a Tier One VC firm can be founded outside Silicon Valley and is an exemplar of the New York startup scene – respected and liked. Building a Tier One VC firm does take time, because lemons ripen early but the great ventures take their time to show their full potential. USV has so many great successes and they are not Fintech specific, but within Fintech their portfolio includes AuxMoney, C2FO, CircleUp, Coinbase, Crowdrise, Covestor, Dwolla, FundingCircle, LendingClub, SigFig, eShares. What jumps out of that list is that they are NOT all from New York. USV is a great VC firm based in New York that will invest wherever they see a fit to their thesis.

The debate about whether London or New York is the Fintech Capital of the World may get media and political attention, but to entrepreneurs this is just “noise on the line”.

As Bruno pointed out, New York is a great port city, an import-export center. You can say the same about London. Talk to the Englishmen in New York or the New Yorkers in London or both of them on the regular NYLON flights and you will tend to hear:

“It’s both stupid”.

My inner journalist cannot resist the comparison:

On Innovation Capital it’s a draw. New York has more home-grown early stage VC firms (RRE, IA and USV) but London has the best tax advantaged schemes for angels (EIS and SEIS). New York is also home to two of the biggest Growth Equity Funds (GA, Summit), but this matters less because growth equity funds invest globally. It is early stage capital that has to be local.

New York has one big advantage and one big problem.

The big advantage is that New York is where high velocity ventures go to do their IPO. There is no reason – in theory – why the London Stock Exchange should not be the go to exchange for high velocity ventures – but in practice it isn’t.

New York has one big problem. It is not to the East in London. It is to the West in Silicon Valley. This means Fintech in America has two magnets – New York and Silicon Valley. Fintech in Europe has one magnet – London. That is not to diminish all the amazing innovation in Germany, France, Switzerland, Italy, Spain, Holland, Sweden and other Continental European countries, but London is clearly the Fintech Capital of Europe.

It is not so clear that New York is the Fintech Capital of America, because that could still be Silicon Valley (which clearly has the top Fintech Unicorn score). The Fintech City Tour will finally make it to Silicon Valley.

Bruno also pointed out that New York is a natural meeting place for Europeans and West Coasters. Both feel comfortable making the trip to New York.

Bruno also pointed out the globalization trend such as the recent expansion of the Barclays Accelerator to NY and the UKTI delegation that came to New York with London’s Mayor (Boris Johnson). Big launch events, such as Finovate and Innotribe, use both London and New York. This reinforces the idea that is New York plus London, rather than New York versus London. In short:

NYLON is the Fintech Capital of the World.

One thing that Silicon Valley taught us is that physical place matters – despite all the distance killing digital technologies. Bruno pointed out ValueStream and Work-Bench with their co-working studios as places where the New York Fintech community gets together. Manhattan and London share the problem of being expensive and gathering places need to be central.

Finally, Bruno put together a superb resource listing the Twitter handles of the people to connect with in the Fintech scene in New York:

Fintech Investors in New York on Twitter

by @marcpbernegger and @brunoswerneck

Albert Wenger / @albertwenger / VC at Brian Hirsch / @hirschb / Brian Hirsch is a New York based VC, founder & Managing Partner of Tribeca

Venture Partners

Dan Ciporin / @dtcippy / Current VC, Ex-Operator

David Sica / @djsica / @Nycapartners [FinTech Venture Capital] formerly @Visa @MerrillLynch

Greg Neufeld / @gregneuf / Partner at @FinTechNY. Left hedge funds for startups, now VC looking for the web platforms that have the potential to revolutionize big Finance.

Jerry Neumann / @ganeumann / Hacker, backer, slacker. Jim Robinson / @jdrive / Roughly 70% water. Also: VC / Entrepreneur / Volunteer / Tinkerer

Matt Harris / @mattcharris / Husband, father of three, VC focused on financial services, based in New York City.

Matt Witheiler / @witheiler / Entrepreneur. VC. Deliverer of on-the-spot guidance. Fax me at 617-307- 9293.

Mike Cichowski / @mcichows / Dad. VC. LP. Tech and product junkie. Passionate about future of FinTech and Commerce.

Roger Ehrenberg / @infoarbitrage / Managing Partner of IA Ventures. Data junkie. Quant dude. Baseball coach. Crazy University of Michigan alumnus married to a fellow Wolverine.Thomas Loverro / @tomloverro / Venture investor @RRE Ventures. Father, husband, cancer fighter and NHL ’94 devotee. Formerly @Drobo and @GoldmanSachs. #NerdNation


This list was created by Bruno Werneck and inspired by the existing fintech scene overviews from Marc P. Bernegger.

Bruno Werneck / @brunoswerneck Financial and enterprise technology junkie. Analyst @JPMorgan with experience @NestEggWealth. Views are not investment advice.

Marc P. Bernegger / @marcpbernegger Serial Entrepreneur, Fintech Investor at Orange Growth Capital and @NextGFI, Co-Founder of amiando (WEF Global Technology Pioneer, exit to Xing) and (exit to Axel Springer)

Bruno Werneck published several articles about fintech in general on Quora and on his website

#Fintech #Finance20 #NYC

Marc P. Bernegger already published several overviews about fintech in Switzerland fintech in Romandie fintech in Germany, fintech in the UK, fintech in Singapore and Hong Kong and fintech in France.

Fintech Operators in New York on Twitter

by @marcpbernegger and @brunoswerneck

Alexa von Tobel / @alexavontobel / I am a dreamer. Founder/CEO . Working hard to make financial advice accessible for millions of Americans. Financial Expert, Author, & CFP.

Barry Silbert / @barrysilbert / Founder, Digital Currency Group, Founder @SecondMarket, Creator @BitcoinTrust; investor in Bitcoin companies

Brett King / @brettking / Founder , Author, Speaker,@AmerBanker Innovator of the Year, WVNJ Radio Show Host working globally to reboot the banking experience

David Haber / @dhaber / Founder @onbondstreet, formerly played VC @SparkCapital. Husband to@juliabhaber. Passionately curious.

David Rose / @davidsrose / Venture capitalist, entrepreneur, angel investor

Howard Lindzon / @howardlindzon / Chairman/Co-Founder of Stocktwits..GP of Social Leverage (Angel),Wallstrip creator (purchased by$CBS),Momentum, Stocks, Stock Market & LOL hunter..Love Popcorn

Jeremy Baksht / @jbaksht / FinTech enthusiast. BD@TrustedInsight, Co-lead @Sales_NYC, Advise @CirrusMD @Brainscape@CoinDotCo @DigitalTangible. Tweets are not financial advice.

Jonathan Stein / @jonstein / Founder and CEO @Betterment. Efficiency architect. Happiness optimizer. Engineer & economist.

Leigh Drogen / @LDrogen / Founder and CEO @Estimize, Ex-Hedge Fund Manager at Surfview Capital, Citizen of the Internet, Blogger, Hockey Player, Surfer, Grill Master

Matt Burton / @burtomd0 / CEO @ Orchard Noah Breslow / @noahbreslow / CEO of OnDeck, husband, father, entrepreneur, relentless optimist.

Phil Haslett / @haslettp / Co-founder of EquityZen (a 500 Startups company). Chef-in-Training, NYC Adventurist, Golf dork, Globetrotter on sabbatical. A’s/49ers/EvertonFC Fan

Fintech Community in New York on Twitter

by @marcpbernegger and @brunoswerneck

Becca Lipman / @BeccaLipman / Senior Editor for Wall Street & Technology. I’m taking a closer look at the technology trends that keep the world turning.

FinTech Collective / @fintec_io / a modern venture platform, built to harness the power of curated networks

FinTech Lab / @FinTechLab / The FinTech Innovation Lab is a 12-week program in NYC for early & growth stage fintech startups.@FinTechLab is managed by @Partnership4NYC and@Accenture.

FinTech Startups / @NYFTS / The Largest FinTech Meetup Jenny Fielding / @jefielding / Running fast…

Jesse Podell / @Jessepod / True net worth is how you treat other people. Co-Founder @TechDayHQ & @wedeliversmiles #LATechDay #DCTechDay #NYTD

Jon Zanoff / @jonzanoff / Product Geek & Founder of@EmpireStartups and @NYFTS The Largest FinTech Meetup

Josh Kuzon / @JKuzon / payments nerd, vc investor, payments ninja @SVB_Financial, ex corp strategy & development @JPMorgan Chase. tweets are my own.

Reuben Levy / @Reuben_007 / Strategist, operator, angel investor. Views are solely mine.

Tanay Jaipuria / @tanayj / Currently @McKinsey,previously@Palantirtech, @Google, @Zynga,@Columbia ’14. I like tech, econ, psychology and @Manutd. Views and banter my own.

ValueStream Labs / @FinTechNY / ValueStream Labs is a FinTech startup lab and VC firm. Our GPs: @gregneuf@karlantle @jell00. Follow @StartupFTfor our FinTech news feed.

Work-Bench Ventures / @Work_Bench / Work-Bench is an enterprise technology growth accelerator in NYC. We scale startups through our community, workspace, business development, and venture fund