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Fintech Global Tour goes to Italy to discover an entrepreneurial renaissance

Did you know that there are 78 Fintech startups in Italy? Thanks to Riccardo Luna, editor at StartupItalia! and CheBanca! you can see all 78 in the Fintech Atlas of 2015 (as long as you can read Italian).

So, I sought a tour guide who was happy to speak to me in English. Luckily I found Fabrizio Villani of FintechItalia. Fabrizio is an Italian Fintech entrepreneur currently living in Barcelona and familiar with the London and Amsterdam Fintech scenes (so he can contrast what he sees in Italy with the Fintech scene in other cities).

Through Fabrizio I started to learn about the brain drain to places like London, New York and Silicon Valley, a story that I have heard in other European centers. Highly educated and skilled Italians take their talent abroad in search of better funds, career opportunities and payoffs. Despite Europe’s attempts to retain ‘brains’, 30,000 Italian researchers leave each year, while only 3,000 qualified scientists go to Italy.

The usual villains star in this brain drain story – difficulty in getting funding and lack of innovation by the big banks. Yet the big banks in Italy, such as Unicredit, Intesa San Paolo and Banca Sella are keen to find this innovation. For example, Unicredit has set up a Fintech Accelerator. If you know of any other Fintech Accelerators in Italy, I will add them to this list. Also CheBanca! is clearly seen as a digital innovator, what the UK market calls a Challenger Bank.

As with so many other centers, there are innovative startups and innovative customers but these two dots are not being efficiently connected.

Startups need three types of fuel:

Fabrizio identified the following promising Fintech ventures in Italy:

So the question for Italy asks Frabrizio is: “can we convert these fine craftsmen of Fintech products into global players and see Italy raise again and live a new Renaissance?” These few examples raise our hopes.

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