The first initiatives, such as online banking, date back to the early 2000s. Today, financial services have moved beyond online and mobile banking, making payments from a smart phone possible. Tomorrow, data management – from storage to secure transmission of information – will be a crucial differentiating factor. The aim of the main financial centre players is not to create FinTech banks but to incorporate FinTech into banking.
In the age of big data, Switzerland remains a location of choice for data management and protection. Thanks to its favourable legal environment and framework conditions, our nation is uniquely able to offer the high level of data protection essential for many FinTech companies. Mounting pressure on encryption further reinforces Switzerland’s potential in this area.
Geneva excels is in its infrastructure and experience of data management. It offers both transparency and a high level of privacy protection. Though rooted in tradition, the Geneva banking industry is highly innovative and embraces cutting-edge technology. The Geneva economic cluster comprises not only banks but also companies providing infrastructure to financial institutions, as well as software developers and other product and service providers.
To further develop and promote these strengths, the Geneva Financial Center (GFC) is active in the independent association Swiss FinTech Innovations and promotes events focusing on FinTech. It also takes an interest in the development of blockchain technology, which can be used to optimise data transmission and storage with a high level of security. This forward-looking approach is essential, since cybersecurity is now a major differentiating factor.
One of the main criticisms of the Swiss FinTech industry is that it is too widely dispersed among various networks and associations. In an effort to remedy this, a group of financial institutions created the independent association Swiss FinTech Innovations. Founding members include Credit Suisse, Raiffeisen, Lombard Odier, Zurich Kantonalbank, Vontobel, the insurance companies Helvetia and Swiss Life, and SIX Group. The Geneva Financial Center joined in June 2016 with the intention of taking an active role in the digital transformation of finance.
Organised by the interbank messaging service SWIFT, SIBOS has emerged as the main global conference on FinTech and the future of the financial industry. From September 26 to 29, 2016, Geneva hosted SIBOS 2016. For the first time in its history, the organizers of Sibos decided to provide the host country with a booth at the congress. The "Swiss FinTech corner" in the "Swiss Lounge" featured presentations by 24 FinTech start-ups on various topics such as the banking sector, security, compliance, blockchain, big data, etc. The booth was the result of a public-private partnership between the State of Geneva, the Geneva Financial Center (GFC), AlpICT, Barclays, Temenos and the Swiss FinTech Association.
Digital Economy Forum
The Geneva Financial Center Foundation co-organised the second Digital Economy Forum with the Geneva Economic Development Office, in November 2016. The theme of this edition was "The Digital Transition – Blockchain: opportunities for business." Continuing on from the theme of the previous year, namely cyber security, the event aimed to provide participants with a better understanding of a technology that is likely to have a significant influence on our current economic, political and social systems. The Forum attracted over 350 participants, mostly from Geneva-based companies.
Les "Assises de la place financière genevoise"
The "Assises de la place financière genevoise" are the main annual event for banking and finance industry professional in Geneva. FinTech was the topic of the fifth edition, on June 5, 2016 , which was attended by 360 participants.