By @SimonCockingFinTech 50 Home of The FinTech50 transforming financial services. The FinTech50 2016 is now live. Contact @FinTechCity

What inspired you to create the list 4 years ago?

At the time we couldn’t find a list that looked at FinTech from an innovation perspective, so we started our own. We had great support from the outset from forward-looking brands already active in the sector, like Silicon Valley Bank, but even we were surprised at the level of interest our 2013 list received. It went global overnight.

It’s just for European companies, what was the thinking behind this?

Yes, we set out to recognise FinTech with an HQ in Europe. By focusing on Europe, we are able to showcase more companies in a region where there is an abundance of innovation. In year one we had 135 companies across Europe on our long list; this year we had over 1200 and it is a very tough call for our panel to select just 50. There are just so many great companies in the sector.

How does Europe compare to the US for FinTech innovation, pros and cons?

The funding statistics have been pretty well covered in that UK and Germany accounted for 84.6% of the total amount invested in European FinTech in 2015 and nearly 1 in 3 (29.57%) FinTech investments were made in the UK. There is undoubtedly more funding available in the US but there is something very special about FinTech communities in Europe, where innovators work alongside banks, investors and the wider advisory community and where the regulator, notably in the UK, is hugely supportive. That said, the US is a huge pull factor for European FinTechs establishing HQs and there US companies were the biggest acquirers of European FinTech startups last year.

How do you think traditional banks are faring in this time of financial changes?

The revolution has moved on and it’s now all about the collaboration – banks working with FinTechs – and we are seeing considerable interest from banks in looking for specific solutions. But there are also the challenger banks who have understood the service proposition of accessing multiple services in one place. New banks such as NUMBER26 are reinventing the proposition of the solo FinTech app by partnering with other market leaders such as TransferWise and Barzahlen to offer their customers a range of services in one place.

What are your thoughts on bitcoin and blockchain, will it become widely adopted soon or not?

We featured six bitcoin/blockchain companies on our list this year, which shows the incredible interest. Theory aside, we looked at companies who are already putting the technology to commercial use, such as Everledger, which uses blockchain to tackle the diamond industry’s expensive fraud and theft problem. And Belfast-based Bitnet – the first Bitcoin payment processor designed for both merchants and PSPs.

You have a thought leaders section, who would be your top 10 / 20 individuals to follow?

Just 10/12 is tough, when there are so many FinTech thought leaders we could mention, but here are ten from our 2016 selection panel:

Chris Skinner – Founder of The Financial Services Club and author of Value Net @chrisskinner
Oliver Bussmann – former Global CIO, UBS @oliverbussman
Jan Hammer – top VC investor in FinTech @janatindex,
Nasir Zubairi – FinTech thought leader @naszub,
Holland FinTech – the leading hub in the Nethelrands @hollandfintech
David Birch – Payments guru @dwbirch
Eileen Burbidge – HM Treasury Special Envoy for FinTech @eileentso
Mariano Belinky – MD Santander Innoventures @belimad
Laurent Nizri Founder –Paris FinTech @lnizri,
Roy Vella @royvella

You’ve featured India and Hong Kong also, do you plan to feature any other Asian areas?

Definitely. We announced just last week that we are launching The FinTech50 Asia later this year which will look at FinTech right across the region. We are now inviting our expert selection panel from leading banks, investors and hubs and will be visiting China, Japan and India in the next few months.

Any tips for Singapore based companies + individuals to follow?

Follow Gerben Visser at Singapore FinTech @sgfintech for the community. @AnjuPatwardhan Chief Innovation Officer at Standard Chartered Bank, Marcus Gnirck @MGnirck founder Tryb Asia and former COO of StartupBootCamp FinTech.

We’re Irish based, what is your impression of the Irish Fintech scene?

In a word: Dynamic – and we’re very pleased to see FinTechs from Dublin and Belfast on the list this year (Fenergo and Bitnet). We hold regular micro showcases in London and would love to feature more Irish FinTechs. All of our events are free to attend and we don’t charge FinTechs to pitch.

Anything we should have asked / you’d like to add?

FinTechs always ask us how to get on the FinTech50. We research the sector throughtout the year to create our long list, but nothing beats reaching out. Send us an email or tag us on Twitter. Even if you don’t make the 50 you will be putting your business onto the radar of some of the most influential people in the industry. One company (who did not make the list last year) ended up with a lucrative contract just by being on the long list. That’s smart marketing.

How can people contact you?

The best way to contact us is our email: [email protected] or via Twitter @TheFinTech50

If you would like to have your company featured in the Irish Tech News Business Showcase, get in contact with us at [email protected] or on Twitter: @SimonCocking

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