11.18.2014
By Terry Flanagan

Funds Flow to FinTech

Financial services technology has become one of the fastest-growing areas for venture capital investment, according to Stephane Dubois, CEO of market data provider Xignite.

“The financial technology space was not the darling of the media and investment community for a while,” Dubois told Markets Media. “But 2014 has been amazing because what we’ve seen is that because of the convergence of the market being at its highest and the technology maturing, some of the start-ups that started three, four, five years ago, are starting to get some real traction.”

Fintech startups are capturing the attention of Wall Street, which regards them as something of a competitive threat, especially in wealth management.

“Companies like Wealthfront, Personal Capital, and Betterment are raising a 50, 70, 75 million dollars in a round and bring in huge amounts of capital to try and reinvent digital wealth management,” said Dubois. “Some of them are starting to deals with larger institutions. Then you’re starting to see some institutions, like the Schwabs of the world saying that they’re doing the same thing. They’re trying to keep up, and not be beat by this.”

Over the past three years, global investment in fintech companies has grown four times faster than venture investing overall, according to a report by Accenture.

Since 2008, deal flow has increased at a compound annual growth rate of 27% and the value of deals by 26%. The first quarter of 2014 was the most active quarter yet for global fintech investment, with $1.7 billion invested and 167 deals closed.

The U.S. received 83% of fintech investment in 2013, the report said. In the first quarter of 2014, nearly $1 billion was invested in U.S> fintech ventures, and new quarterly record, and 109 deals closed.

The financial sector has been adept at incorporating technology that was developed for other sectors, such as retail, as opposed to being on the leading edge, said Dubois.

“It’s not like rocket science,” he said. “What you’re talking about is the application of some technology that hasn’t matured to a domain. If you look at companies like Wealthfront and Personal Capital, the way they go about doing things is not fundamentally different from what you could have done 10 years ago in terms of identifying your richest profile and investing in the portfolios that fit that demographic. What they’re doing, is they’re automating it.”

Featured image via iStock

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