Paris stepping into London’s FinTech shoes?

By Claude-Etienne Armingaud

Despite the lack of announcement by UK Government to give notification to the EU under Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty of its decision to withdraw from the Union, France is already making its move to move into the steps of the former Fintech capital of Europe. On January 25-26, 2017, more than 1,500 people attended the second edition of the Paris FinTech Forum, encompassing more than 28 countries and 130 companies, from global players to startups.

The irony of the event location, set in the historical venue of the former Paris Stock Exchange building, was not lost to the Bank of France Governor Francois Villeroy de Galhau who wondered “Who would have imagined just a few years ago that a central banker would be speaking at a forum on innovation?” before recognizing that “For banks and insurers, the digital revolution is upsetting the traditional model for client relations” and “there are difficult choices ahead.

In addition to Fintech – both in their classic understanding of technological innovation applied to the finance industry to more disruptive models, the Forum also gave the opportunity to demonstrate the blossoming RegTech scene. RegTech encompasses all added-value solutions which make it easier for banking services to ensure compliance with applicable regulation, be it for the KYC or AML purposes. Blockchain based solutions also departed from their original Bitcoin association to showcase a broad range of innovative services, from identity control to supply-chain management.

While investments, both in terms of number of operations and invested amounts, have been slightly decreasing in 2016, the Paris Fintech Forum was a proud statement that the market was maturing into products ready to hit the market on a large-scale basis.

The Paris Fintech Forum showcased the strong interest of the French current Government in blockchain technology (see NewsBTC article here), in the wake of the uncertainty surrounding the consequences of the Brexit announcement (see Business Mirror article here). However, France itself will be facing a general election next April and uncertainty may also prevail until then on the continent.

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