Fintech Global Tour goes to Spain to find both local & global innovation

Guest Post by Fabrizio Villani

(Editor Note: a few weeks ago I asked Fabrizio to be tour guide to Fintech in Italy. That was such a success that I asked Fabrizio to do the same for Spain.)

Let’s start with that on 9th of April released a list of 67 Spanish Fintech startups (in my previous article on Italy I mentioned Fintech Atlas of 2015 with a list of 78 Italian Fintech startups) someone would assume that Fintech is flourishing more in Italy, than in Spain, well nothing is more wrong than this.

Spain has established a Fintech Hub (@SpainFintechHub) coordinated by Madrid Financial Centre and only a few days old it’s the news of the creation of the Spanish Association of Financial Technology (SAFT) with six companies joining forces. In Italy for instance we don’t have anything similar (my only hope is in the ability, influence and big network of Matteo Rizzi (@matteorizzi)). There are mainly four benefits in having a Hub:

  • Government-backed support and finance including grants, finance and loans, mentoring, consultancy, etc. (e.g. more in UK than in Spain, does not exist in Italy).
  • Venture Capital here in Spain has a great advantage in comparison to other countries. During my time here, I had the opportunity to discover a small but great VC community: above all, my favorite one for his style and success is Carlos Blanco even if I do not agree with all of his investments. The increase in exits, combined with the surge in venture capital activity are good signs for Spain but let’s not get ahead of ourselves: there’s a lot of room for improvement and Spain is well behind other European ecosystems (not Italy).
  • Human Capital with the right people and the right education (Esade consistently ranks near the top of the main global business-school rankings).
  • A natural ecosystem of business, companies and institutions involved directly or indirectly towards financial technologies (e.g. there are a lot of e-commerce and marketplace companies in Spain like Privalia, ElTenedor, Milanuncios, eDreams, etc.)

Spanish Fintech companies still mainly have a  focus on their home market with some interesting exceptions of dual companies (e.g. Headquarter in London and operations in Spain or tech team in Spain while Sales and Marketing in U.S.) like:

  • Darwinex an FCA-approved FX broker and asset manager that offers “copy trading” to its users that we already covered on 09th of March on this website (London – Madrid). (Ed note, covered by Efi Pilarinou here.)
  • Novicap won the first prize in the 2014 edition of the famous Spanish accelerator SeedRocket. It offers what is known as invoice discounting. In a nutshell, it involves a company selling its invoices to a third-party, in this case a marketplace managed by Novicap, in exchange for cash that will be advanced to the company account within one working day (quite sure that at this stage this short time period is only for EU based companies). It is different from a loan, since the service engages in buying and selling rather than lending funds (London – Barcelona).
  • peerTransfer is a leader of innovative global payment solutions. Its current focus is in the Education industry, where enables international students at hundreds of schools globally to save time and money when making or receiving international payments (Boston – Valencia).

Not dual company but still very interesting and notable in the payment field are:

  • Setpay allows merchants to accept card payments anytime, anywhere. The service is based on a mobile POS that connects wirelessly to mobile or tablet and allows accepting card payments through a secured payment gateway. In addition, the seller has a range of value added services that simplify managing their catalog, overview sales statistics and customer loyalty.
  • Besepa process direct debit payments through its API in a cleaner, simpler and quicker way in comparison to banks. Its goal is to become the Spain’s leading direct debit provider and then focusing its attentions on larger businesses and foreign markets, with competitors like Gocardless in UK and in Germany.

I believe the greater competition now in Spain is in the P2P lending with:

  • ECrowdInvest is a crowdlending (crowdfunding for loans) platform for causes with social or environmental positive impacts. A “classic” win-win situation where good projects get funds, investors receive a higher interests to those obtained through banks and there is a positive impact on environment for instance in funding projects with reduction in Carbon Dioxide emissions.
  • Arboribus and Loanbook (both part of SAFT). Arboribus in 2013 made the first “crowdfunding” loan and has collected more than a million Euro. Loanbook is a credit advisory and management business specializing in offering loans, and other types of credit, to SMEs in Spain.

Thanks to all the people (now became friends) that send me information on their company, especially François Derbaix. I am sure that at a certain point in time I will also have the opportunity to talk about your adventures, if I didn’t do it yet here, please (por favor) keep disrupting.

Please let me know if there is any mistake or inaccuracy and keep in mind that this is my personal list of Spanish Fintech companies there are many more that are waiting to be discovered or that have been forgotten.

Here are some Twitter handles of people involved with Fintech in Spain:

– Carlos Blanco @carlosblanco

– Darwinex @Darwinexchange

– peerTransfer @peerTransfer

– Setpay  @SetPay

– Besepa @molpe

– Ecrowdinvest @ECrowdinvest

– Arboribus @Arboribus

– Loanbook @Loanbookcapital

– Francois Derbaix @fderbaix

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