FinTech in Switzerland finally wakes up

Unlike its major financial rivals, led by the United States, the Swiss so far do not seem to be paying much attention to Fintech companies. Nevertheless, the coming year should allow the country to make up for some of the lost time: The first start-ups, which rethink the model of finance through technological innovation, are beginning to reap the fruits of their labour. Today there are nearly 111 Fintech start-ups in Switzerland, but the big players – with banks and insurers in the lead – are also beginning to catch on to this trend. One of the main obstacles to the development of the sector in Switzerland lies in the difficulty of raising funds. Indeed, these companies need immediate funding to develop their technological concepts, and rely on fund-raising from business angels, investment funds, or important market players. Though the Zurich-based start-up Knip was able to get almost 15 million francs through its fund-raiser at the end of 2015, it remains far short of the hundreds of millions of dollars invested on the other side of the Atlantic.

 

 
 

The law must change

Swiss regulations are regularly highlighted by local Fintech players as a factor limiting the field of possibilities. For example, unlike many other countries, it is still impossible today for a Swiss citizen to open an online bank account. However, the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA) and its new director seem aware of this problem. The FINMA also intends to review and adapt legislation to the emergence of this sector. Swiss authorities are considering including a loosening of regulations applicable to emerging players in Fintech, to give them the time to take flight. Following the path taken by the banks, the Swiss players in the insurance world appear to have begun their emergence in the digital world. The time has come for simplification and greater transparency regarding customers, companies, and individuals. This is shown by the rapid development of start-ups Knip and Smartie. The first of these offers an application that groups together all of the user’s insurance policies on his / her smartphone, to simplify their management. The second has developed an insurance comparison system for health and car insurance, accompanied by the option of getting in touch with advisers from various insurance companies.

The broker must take its place

Because of its smaller size, the insurance broker is, in principle, given greater agility and responsiveness than insurance companies to meet the challenge of digitising the sector. At the broker level, brokers have to become the champion of this revolution by allowing their clients to simplify their lives and make insurance accessible to them. These two leitmotifs must guide their daily actions to consolidate, refine services, and strengthen customer proximity. New technologies are at the centre of these changes, including in particular those that use mobile applications available to customers for managing sickness absences and accidents by their employees. They should be simple to use and easy to work with, with a user experience based on the new standard of daily life, the ever-present smartphone.
 

Overview

Fintech   

Shorthand term originating from the contraction of the term “Financial Technology”. It refers to companies using new technologies to rethink the world of financial services.

1 out of 11   

The share of Fintech start-ups worldwide based in Switzerland, totalling 111 companies (IG Bank study, 2015).

12.21

The total funds invested in Fintech companies worldwide in 2014, in billions of dollars (IG Bank study, 2015).

Find out more

Be sure to contact Swiss Risk & Care to take part in this revolution, and actively participate in our digital environment, which favours co-construction as an agile methodology: info@swissriskcare.ch

 
 
Clément Hanoy
Marketing & Business Development Director
Article published in november 2016