Most of the Allevo stories these days go around FinTP. In short, this is an application built for financial institutions of any profile and size, that processes payments and other types of financial transactions, understands data and generates various reports for operations and business oriented people. What is special about it and what differentiates FinTP from other similar solutions is its licensing model because it is distributed under the GPL v3 open license.
Going open has not been an easy step for Allevo, it meant defining and adopting a new business model to accommodate this type of software. Looking into what is happening in banking software nowadays, I can say we are among the very few who have taken this approach to fully open source our core business. Some big banks like Credit Agricole have made a first step into this direction by opening up their APIs, but most of the software provider companies are still tackling the traditional proprietary approach. This places Allevo as one of the first companies that has adopted a recipe known and proven to succeed in other industries and used it in the financial services space. To not only keep pace with FinTech innovation, but to also attempt being one step ahead, more than this is needed. FinTP needs to constantly evolve and adapt to, and even anticipate, market needs. We have several ways of doing this and one of them is co-producing the Innotribe Startup Challenge with SWIFT. This keeps us right at the heart of the FinTech startup ecosystem, allowing us to see new technologies first hand, identify areas where we can collaborate, come up with ideas for new features or products to build over FinTP. We basically get to see the next PayPal before it becomes mainstream. This creates the premises for ideas to be born and nurtured in the FINkers United community and around the FinTP project.
And there’s always the feeling of pride and satisfaction when you scan the day’s news and read that startups from past competitions have raised series A financing, have been acquired by big industry players such as MasterCard or Facebook, have partnered with the likes of Microsoft and are generally doing very well. It’s like watching babies grow on one hand, and knowing you’ve met them before they had all eyes on them on the other.
The Innotribe Startup Challenge is a global competition SWIFT runs for finding the best startups in the FinTech industry, to bring them closer to banks. This is the second year we produce this program together with the Innotribe team, looking at over 280 companies that applied for the competition. Industry experts carefully selected from Innotribe’s network help review and evaluate these companies, acting as the program’s judges and coaches. The top 15 startups per region are then invited to pitch in one of the three locations – London, Singapore, New York. Each of them participates in one of the two categories, startups or innovators, the latter being growth stage companies that are founded at least three years ago or have raised sufficient investment or have sufficient revenue to become sustainable. On the Innotribe website there is a brochure where each of the semi-finalists is briefly described on one page.
The format of the competition is quite strict, each startup gets a 6 minutes sharp pitching slot and is given an extra 4 minutes to answer any audience Q&A. The pitches are available on Innotribe’s YouTube channel.
The three 2014 semi-finals are now over and the top three startups and two growth stage companies from each showcase will get to pitch this fall at the Grand Finale at Sibos, Boston. They are all listed here.
Interesting is to see where these startups position themselves. The bubble map below highlights the main areas of innovation for 2014. Most startups are built around corporate and business services (three of the finalists fit in here as well), investment management (two finalists), lending (three finalists) and so on. The big bubbles are obviously the mainstreams of 2014, but what I find more important is looking at the smaller ones, that have the potential of turning into the next big thing. There are startups that deal with digital currencies, back-office operations, messaging or securities, areas that are less fancy to look at, but highly significant to the ecosystem and more likely to experience a burst in the near future.
Most startups provide customer oriented apps or services, positioning themselves more on the front-end side, rather than going very deep into the behind the scenes systems a traditional bank has built over time. Every now and then though, one can find startups that offer technology that can enable innovation in banks, such as last year’s winner in the innovator category, Waratek. Waratek has developed a technology that makes Java enterprise applications more secure and easier to manage. The Java Application Security platform provides transparent, run-time application self-protection against business logic and network layer threats. KlickEx is the 2013 winner of the startup category, building a platform that enables authenticated Banks or Telcos to provide real-time or same day payment and settlement of cleared funds to any other connected bank, in any connected country.
With FinTP I am happy to notice we touch quite a lot of the areas of focus and I am very keen on seeing some open (not to go beyond and say open source) apps or platforms come into the spotlight as so far, not that many have shown on stage.
I am very curious to see who wins this year’s competition as the race is tight and we have a lot of good startups going into the finals at Sibos. Should you be at Sibos in Boston this year, please pin in Wednesday afternoon, October 1st, to come see the Innotribe Startup Challenge Grand Finale, meet our startups and help us pick the two winning companies. And you can of course stick around for the Innotribe reception then after. I promise this will be time well spent and a different kind experience, especially if you have not seen a startup event before.