World’s Best Cities to Launch a Fintech Firm: Deloitte Report

The report examines 44 global cities that are most conducive to fintech innovation

(Image: ThinkStock) (Image: ThinkStock)

Deloitte published in April an interim report on behalf of the Global FinTech Hubs Federation (GFHF) that measures the fintech environment in 44 cities. Three U.S. cities are included in the report, including one new city since the initial report was released late last year.

GFHF is a network of industry associations that was created to encourage best practices in fintech and foster engagement between market participants. “Hubs” are cities where Federation members are located.

When GFHF released its first report in September 2016, it introduced 20 fintech hubs. April’s interim report provides an update on those 20 cities, and introduces 24 more.

“In fintech, a lot changes over six months,” the report acknowledged, as the industry matures, and as governments, regulators and fintech associations release more data about fintech’s impact.  

Hub representatives were asked to rate their local markets on the regulatory environment; government support; proximity to customers; availability of talent and expertise; presence of foreign startups in the local market (a higher score here indicating more opportunities for startups to expand beyond their own local markets); and an overall culture of innovation.

Using data from the World Bank Doing Business Index, the Global Innovation Index and the Global Financial Centres Index, Deloitte gave each city an Index Performance Score, with lower scores indicating cities that are more conducive to growth in the fintech space.

The report noted fintech firms in the United States are working in a “complex and fragmented regulatory environment.”

(Related: OCC Releases New Licensing Regulations for Fintech Bank Charters)

View of Brooklyn Bridge with Manhattan in background. (Photo: ThinkStock)

(View of Brooklyn Bridge with Manhattan in background. Photo: ThinkStock)

Best North American Fintech Hubs

New York led U.S. fintech hubs with an index score of 14. The report noted some of the largest and most established financial firms are based in New York, and are actively investing in and collaborating with fintech firms.

“With Wall Street having both the largest capital base and greatest need for fintech innovation, the best technology and engineering talent have come together to create a vibrant and well-funded ecosystem within walking distance of the market they serve,” Deloitte wrote.

Of course, “Silicon Valley is synonymous with technology innovation, which is now aimed at fintech,” according to the report. With an index score of 18, Silicon Valley, while not a city, sits between New York and Chicago as U.S. fintech leaders.

“Silicon Valley consistently produces winners,” Deloitte wrote in the report, noting the region’s “majority share of venture capital investment, a majority share of the executive leadership of global technology companies and decades of demonstrated excellence in scaling companies from concept to global leadership.”

Chicago, with a score of 20, is the newest U.S. city represented in the interim report. The Windy City is the “epicenter for all fintech activity in the Midwest,” according to Deloitte, representing “well over 20,000 financial institutions.” Its talent pool is bolstered by a concentration of the top U.S. business schools and financial industry workers, who account for 6% of the local workforce, according to the report.

Other North American hubs include Toronto at 50, where 80% of Canadian fintech activity takes place, according to the report. Charlotte, North Carolina, is a growing fintech center and will be featured in the next report in October.

Westminster Abbey (Photo: AP)

(Westminster Abbey. Photo: AP)

Best European Fintech Hubs

In Europe, Deloitte found hubs agreed there was plenty of fintech talent to choose from, but said they were overregulated.

“Consistent with this, our research on regulatory sandboxes and regulator collaboration showed that in Europe, only the U.K., Netherlands, Russia, Switzerland and Norway … have committed to a regulatory sandbox, and only the U.K., French and Swiss regulators have signed fintech co-operation agreements with other regulators across the globe,” according to the report.

London was the fintech leader in Europe, with an index score of 11. The report noted it has “the ‘fin’ of New York, the ‘tech’ of the U.S. West Coast and the policymakers of Washington, all within a 15-minute journey on public transport.” Hub representatives rated London as “excellent” in government support, regulation, and proximity to customers and expertise, and “very good” in innovation.

Zurich was next with a score of 41, followed by Frankfurt with an index score of 46.

Singapore harbor (Photo: ThinkStock)

(Singapore harbor. Photo: ThinkStock)

Best Asian Fintech Hubs

Asian fintech hubs rated their regulatory environment more positively than those in Europe. Deloitte noted that more than half of established regulatory sandboxes are in Asian countries, and regulators in the region tend to be more cooperative with other regulatory bodies. For example, the Monetary Authority of Singapore has “signed more fintech cooperation agreements than other regulatory bodies in the world,” according to the report.

Indeed, with an index score of 11, Singapore was the most fintech-friendly city in Asia. Deloitte called the city a “serious contender for the global No. 1 spot in fintech.” It found the government in Singapore has committed $225 million Singapore dollars (about $161 million) to fintech development.

Hong Kong was close with a 22, while Sydney, Tokyo and Taipei were next, with a 45, 55 and 57, respectively.  China was far off the mark, with Shanghai scoring a 119.

The U.K. is also highly collaborative, with agreements between it and China, Singapore, Korea, Australia, Hong Kong, Canada and Japan. As of March 28, the U.S. doesn’t have any formal fintech cooperation agreements with other nations. 

In the Mideast region, Abu Dhabi and Tel Aviv were the top hubs with scores, respectively, of 99 and 111.

--- Read Top American Cities for Business Innovation on ThinkAdvisor.

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