Applications are now being accepted for Accenture’s annual FinTech Innovation Lab Asia-Pacific, a 12-week program that helps early- and growth-stage fintech companies accelerate product and business development through mentorship with executives from top financial institutions.

The sixth year of the Lab comes after global fintech investments more than doubled in 2018, to US$55.3 billion, led by a surge in funding to start-ups in mainland China, as well as by record fintech investment in Canada, Brazil, Australia, Japan, Indonesia and Malaysia, among other markets.

A recent Accenture report noted a clear shift in focus between fintechs and traditional financial services companies over the past 12 to 18 months, from competition to collaboration, which sets the stage for a positive outlook for the industry and future investments.

“There’s now widespread acceptance that the best way forward for banks and fintech startups is to collaborate where possible, creating big ecosystems that will help unlock huge value for all stakeholders, particularly consumers,” said Piyush Singh, Accenture’s financial services lead for Asia-Pacific and Africa and regional programme sponsor for the Lab.

According to Singh that’s a big focus for the FinTech Innovation Lab Asia-Pacific, instigating this sense of partnership between well-established financial firms looking for the next breakthrough technology and nimble startups eager to test their solutions and push them to market.

“We’ve already seen banks, insurers and wealth managers partner with fintechs here in Asia and elsewhere around the world, but the outlook for further collaboration and the resulting value creation is what’s making investors more comfortable to spread their bets more widely, pushing broad gains around the world.”

To be eligible for the Lab, startups must have a working version of their technology/solution for financial institutions. Senior business and operations executives from the Lab’s participating financial institutions will select up to 10 of the fintech applicants to take part in the program through a competitive process and provide them with intensive in-person mentoring in Hong Kong.

The Lab, which begins Aug. 5, will partner the chosen fintech start-ups with senior-level financial institution executives and leading technology entrepreneurs to help them fine-tune and develop their technologies and business strategies through a series of panel discussions, user-group sessions, networking opportunities, one-on-one meetings and presentations. Alumni companies from the Lab have raised US$508 million to date after participating in the program.

“The Lab’s geographical proximity to the mainland makes it particularly suitable for Chinese start-ups, especially for those like ours looking to expand abroad,” said Li Hao, co-founder of Wecash.

“We were particularly impressed by regular feedback from several financial institutions and different Lab advisors, which really helped us to hone our business plans.”

The principal financial institutions for the Lab in 2019 are: Bank of America Merrill Lynch; BlackRock; Credit Suisse; Goldman Sachs; J.P. Morgan; Macquarie Group; Morgan Stanley; Societe Generale; Standard Chartered; SunLife Financial; and Zurich Insurance.

In addition, supporting financial institutions are: AIA International Limited; China CITIC Bank International; CLSA; Dah Sing Bank; Generali; Maybank; Natixis; Saxo Markets; and ZhongAn International. 

 Cyberport, which is one of the founding organisations of the FinTech Innovation Lab Asia-Pacific, will provide workspace to the participating start-ups. It houses the largest fintech community in Hong Kong with 350 companies, offering start-ups funding, incubation programs and a close and dynamic network of like-minded innovators from around the world.

The FinTech Innovation Lab Asia-Pacific is modelled on a similar program that Accenture co-founded in 2010 with the Partnership Fund for New York City, the US$150 million investment arm of the Partnership for New York City. In 2012, Accenture and a dozen major banks in London launched the FinTech Innovation Lab London, with support from the city’s mayor and other government bodies.

In 2014 Accenture launched the FinTech Innovation Lab Asia-Pacific in Hong Kong. Globally, the Labs’ alumni companies have raised more than US$1.5 billion in venture financing after participating in the program.

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