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Alain Clot: "FinTech, a sector of French excellence"

April 29, 2019 | Publications

Interview of Alain Clot by Scribeo for The Point - case Fintech boom

Fintechs are experiencing strong growth. France relies on its strengths to bring out its champions. Explanations with the president of France FinTech, Alain Clot.

SCRIBEO. - How would you define fintech?

Alain CLOT. - These are innovative companies in the financial sector, dealing with banking, insurance and asset management services. But the definition may vary from country to country. The term is old, but the phenomenon really appeared about ten years ago, with a marked acceleration around 2004-2005. 

From the rise of online banking to the need for mobility that we know today. The first wave of fintech mainly concerned individuals, with specific service offers, such as mobile payment or crowdfunding.

Beyond simple uses, they offer a wider range of services, based on a more significant technological component (Artificial Intelligence, BlockChain, Internet of Objects). We are witnessing a form of data liberation which makes it possible to create all kinds of new services.

What are the particularities of France?

First-generation online banks, the bearers of a real breakthrough, developed very early in France, at the end of the 90s.

Fifteen years later, a new generation of innovative financial services has appeared, adapted to new uses, enabled by mobility and data technologies. Rapid changes which have pushed the regulator to adapt and be more favorable to innovation.

In this area, France can rely on an exceptional pool of skills in the two relevant fields, finance and cognitive sciences, as well as on the presence of major leaders in the financial industry. It is in France that we find the most incubators and artificial intelligence laboratories in Europe.

Regulators and the legal framework are very important. How does this translate?

Finance is service more than regulation. The role of regulators is the stability of financial institutions and the protection of consumers. From one country to another this can apply differently, with traditionally a more flexible posture in the Anglo-Saxon countries.

In France, we had a fairly legal and more protective vision for consumers, but less favorable to the emergence of new products. This has evolved with the development of dedicated fintech teams at the Autorité des Marchés Financiers (AMF) and the Prudential Control and Resolution Authority (ACPR) and a practice of continuous exchanges with entrepreneurs, from the first developments, which avoids the risk of being faced with a refusal of approval at the end of these. From now on, most of the regulations applying to financial services are of European origin.

How are these changes perceived by the population?

Customer demand is growing. Especially among those under 35, who are very familiar with digital services, but not only. Already 15% of French people use the services of fintechs. The most used services are payment, transfer and fundraising applications, price and service comparators, crowdfunding.

What are the key figures for the sector?

France has around 500 fintechs, the sector already employing 10 people. 000 million euros were raised by our start-ups in 368, an increase of 2018% compared to 15. France is well represented in the various rankings, with three fintechs in the top 2017 of KPMG: October, + and Shift Technology. The list of our champions also includes United Credit, Lydia, Ledger and Alan. Our fintechs are resolutely internationally oriented, more than half of them already operating outside France and 100% are aiming for a foreign establishment by 70.

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