Articles related to FinTech (Financial Technologies)

Now Crypto. Lessons learned from over 10 years of developing trading software

By Michal Rozanski, CEO at Empirica.

Reading news about crypto we regularly see the big money inflow to new companies with a lot of potentially breakthrough ideas. But aside from the hype from the business side, there are sophisticated technical projects going on underneath.

And for new cryptocurrency and blockchain ideas to be successful, these projects have to end with the delivery of great software systems that scale and last. Because we have been building these kinds of systems for the financial markets for over 10 years we want to share a bit of our experience.

Read more on how Empirica delivers its trading software development services

“Software is eating the world”. I believe these words by Marc Andreessen. And now the time has come for financial markets, as technology is transforming every corner of the financial sector. Algorithmic trading, which is our speciality, is a great example. Other examples include lending, payments, personal finance, crowdfunding, consumer banking and retail investments. Every part of the finance industry is experiencing rapid changes triggered by companies that propose new services with heavy use of software.

If crypto relies on software, and there is so much money flowing into crypto projects, what should be looked for when making a trading software project for cryptocurrency markets? Our trading software development projects for the capital and crypto markets as well as building our own algorithmic trading platform has taught us a lot. Now we want to share our lessons learned from these projects.

 

  1. The process – be agile.

Agile methodology is the essence of how software projects should be made. Short iterations. Frequent deliveries. Fast and constant feedback from users. Having a working product from early iterations, gives you the best understanding of where you are now, and where you should go.

It doesn’t matter if you outsource the team or build everything in-house; if your team is local or remote. Agile methodologies like Scrum or Kanban will help you build better software, lower the overall risk of the project and will help you show the business value sooner.

 

  1. The team – hire the best.

A few words about productivity in software industry. The citation is from my favourite article by Robert Smallshire ‘Predictive Models of Development Teams and the Systems They Build’ : ‘… we know that on a small 10 000 line code base, the least productive developer will produce about 2000 lines of debugged and working code in a year, the most productive developer will produce about 29 000 lines of code in a year, and the typical (or average) developer will produce about 3200 lines of code in a year. Notice that the distribution is highly skewed toward the low productivity end, and the multiple between the typical and most productive developers corresponds to the fabled 10x programmer.’.

I don’t care what people say about lines of code as a metric of productivity. That’s only used here for illustration.

The skills of the people may not be that important when you are building relatively simple portals with some basic backend functionality. Or mobile apps. But if your business relies on sophisticated software for financial transactions processing, then the technical skills of those who build it make all the difference.

And this is the answer to the unasked question why we in Empirica are hiring only best developers.

We the tech founders tend to forget how important it is to have not only best developers but also the best specialists in the area which we want to market our product. If you are building an algo trading platform, you need quants. If you are building banking omnichannel system, you need bankers. Besides, especially in B2B world, you need someone who will speak to your customers in their language. Otherwise, your sales will suck.

And finally, unless you hire a subcontractor experienced in your industry, your developers will not understand the nuances of your area of finance.

 

  1. The product – outsource or build in-house?

If you are seriously considering building a new team in-house, please read the points about performance and quality, and ask yourself the question – ‘Can I hire people who are able to build systems on required performance and stability levels?’. And these auxiliary questions – can you hire developers who really understand multithreading? Are you able to really check their abilities, hire them, and keep them with you? If yes, then you have a chance. If not, better go outsource.

And when deciding on outsourcing – do not outsource just to any IT company hoping they will take care. Find a company that makes systems similar to what you intend to build. Similar not only from a technical side but also from a business side.

Can outsourcing be made remotely without an unnecessary threat to the project? It depends on a few variables, but yes. Firstly, the skills mentioned above are crucial; not the place where people sleep. Secondly, there are many tools to help you make remote work as smooth as local work. Slack, trello, github, daily standups on Skype. Use it. Thirdly, find a team with proven experience in remote agile projects. And finally – the product owner will be the most important position for you to cover internally.

And one remark about a hidden cost of in-house development, inseparably related to the IT industry – staff turnover costs. Depending on the source of research, turnover rates for software developers are estimated at 25% to even 38%. That means that when constructing your in-house team, every fourth or even every third developer will not be with you in a year from now. Finding a good developer – takes months. Teaching a new developer and getting up to speed – another few months. When deciding on outsourcing, you are also outsourcing the cost and stress of staff turnover.

 

  1. System’s performance.

For many crypto projects, especially those related with trading,  system’s performance is crucial. Not for all, but when it is important, it is really important. If you are building a lending portal, performance isn’t as crucial. Your customers are happy if they get a loan in a few days or weeks, so it doesn’t matter if their application is processed in 2 seconds or in 2 minutes. If you are building an algo trading operations or bitcoin payments processing service, you measure time in milliseconds at best, but maybe even in nanoseconds. And then systems performance becomes a key input to the product map.

95% of developers don’t know how to program with performance in mind, because 95% of software projects don’t require these skills. Skills of thinking where bytes of memory go, when they will be cleaned up, which structure is more efficient for this kind of operation on this type of object. Or the nightmare of IT students – multithreading. I can count on my hands as to how many people I know who truly understand this topic.

 

  1. Stability, quality and level of service.

Trading understood as an exchange of value is all about the trust. And software in crypto usually processes financial transactions in someway.

Technology may change. Access channels may change. You may not have the word ‘bank’ in your company name, but you must have its level of service. No one in the world would allow someone to play with their money. Allowing the risk of technical failure may put you out of business. You don’t want to spare on technology. In the crypto sapce there is no room for error.

You don’t achieve quality by putting 3 testers behind each developer. You achieve quality with processes of product development. And that’s what the next point is about.

 

  1. The DevOps

The core idea behind DevOps is that the team is responsible for all the processes behind the development and continuous integration of the product. And it’s clear that agile processes and good development practices need frequent integrations. Non-functional requirements (stability and performance) need a lot of testing. All of this is an extra burden, requiring frequent builds and a lot of deployments on development and test machines. On top of that there are many functional requirements that need to be fulfilled and once built, kept tested and running.

On many larger projects the team is split into developers, testers, release managers and system administrators working in separate rooms. From a process perspective this is an unnecessary overhead. The good news is that this is more the bank’s way of doing business, rarely the fintech way. This separation of roles creates an artificial border when functionalities are complete from the developers’ point of view and when they are really done – tested, integrated, released, stable, ready for production. By putting all responsibilities in the hands of the project team you can achieve similar reliability and availability, with a faster time to the market. The team also communicates better and can focus its energy on the core business, rather than administration and firefighting.

There is a lot of savings in time and cost in automation. And there are a lot of things that can be automated. Our DevOps processes have matured with our product, and now they are our most precious assets.

 

  1. The technology.

The range of technologies applied for crypto software projects can be as wide as for any other industry. What technology makes best fit for the project depends, well, on the project. Some projects are really simple such as mobile or web application without complicated backend logic behind the system. So here technology will not be a challenge. Generally speaking, crypto projects can be some of the most challenging projects in the world. Here technologies applied can be the difference between success and failure. Need to process 10K transaction per second with a mean latency under 1/10th ms. You will need a proven technology, probably need to resign from standard application servers, and write a lot of stuff from scratch, to control the latency on every level of critical path.

Mobile, web, desktop? This is more of a business decision than technical. Some say the desktop is dead. Not in trading. If you sit whole day in front of the computer and you need to refer to more than one monitor, forget the mobile or web. As for your iPhone? This can be used as an additional channel, when you go to a lunch, to briefly check if the situation is under control.

 

  1. The Culture.

After all these points up till now, you have a talented team, working as a well-oiled mechanism with agile processes, who know what to do and how to do it. Now you need to keep the spirits high through the next months or years of the project.

And it takes more than a cool office, table tennis, Xbox consoles or Friday parties to build the right culture. Culture is about shared values. Culture is about a common story. With our fintech products or services we are often going against big institutions. We are often trying to disrupt the way their business used to work. We are small and want to change the world, going to war with the big and the powerful. Doesn’t it look to you like another variation of David and Goliath story? Don’t smile, this is one of the most effective stories. It unifies people and makes them go in the same direction with the strong feeling of purpose, a mission. This is something many startups in other non fintech branches can’t offer. If you are building the 10th online grocery store in your city, what can you tell your people about the mission?

Read more on how Empirica delivers its crypto software development services

 

Final words

Crypto software projects are usually technologically challenging. But that is just a risk that needs to be properly addressed with the right people and processes or with the right outsourcing partner. You shouldn’t outsource the responsibility of taking care of your customers or finding the right market fit for your product. But technology is something you can usually outsource and even expect significant added value after finding the right technology partner.

At Empirica we have taken part in many challenging crypto projects, so learn our lessons, learn from others, learn your own and share it. This cycle of learning, doing and sharing will help the crypto community build great systems that change the rules of the game in the financial world!

 

 

Empirica among innovative companies at the Trading CEE conference

On 26th of October 2017, the “Trading CEE: Equities and Derivatives” conference took place in Warsaw. This is one of the most important financial industry related events in Central and Eastern Europe. The co-organizers of the event were the Warsaw Stock Exchange, the Global Investor Group and the National Depository for Securities. Michał Różański, CEO of Empirica took part in a panel devoted to the future of the fintech industry.

The Trading CEE was held in Warsaw’s Hilton hotel, where several hundred capital markets experts had the opportunity to talk about such important issues as the Mifid II regulation, or the scale of the fintech revolution in Poland and internationally.

They also discussed the decision made recently by FTSE Russell (the supplier of indices belonging to the London Stock Exchange group) to change the status of Poland from that of an Emerging Market into that of a Developed Market and considered the significance of this shift for the national economy.

Among many of the excellent speakers, we had the change to listen to Marek Dietl, President of the Warsaw Stock Exchange and Toby Webb, Head of EMEA Information Services FTSE Russell. The inaugural panel on the opportunities and threats facing investment markets in our region gathered such experts as Ales Ipavec, head of the stock exchange in Ljubljana, Richard Vegh from the Budapest Stock Exchange, Ivan Takev, head of the Bulgarian Stock Exchange and Head of International Sales of the Moscow Stock Exchange Tom O ‘ Brien.

Fintech Innovation Forum

The panel regarding the fintech industry was very popular among visitors, especially the topic of the development of tools based on artificial intelligence and their impact on investment markets in Poland. It was organized in such a way as to allow for 4 of the most promising Central & Eastern European companies in the modern financial technologies industry to present what they offer. One of the main participants of this part of the Trading CEE conference was Michał Różański, CEO and founder of Empirica, the fintech software house.

During his speech, he focused mainly on the presentation of innovations in the field of robo-advisors, which are already revolutionizing the global investment market.

– The robo-advisor platform is not only the future, but the present of wealth and asset management. Our Empirica Robo Advisor service stands out in the international market above all through its very high level of support for advisors in their work with the service’s users. All this is thanks to solutions in the field of AI analytics, which allows them to receive a full picture of the actions taken in the user profile and to quickly respond if these actions threaten the assets, which in the end also reduces the risk of losing the customer. Another important element of our consulting service is the fact that we have built it based on the strong foundations of our platform for Algo Trading. Thanks to it, our robo-solution has fully automated access to the data stream coming from the most important financial institutions at every stage of the Empirica Robo Advisor process. – explains Michał Różański.

New generation of users

Platforms from the robo-advisor category not only democratize investment opportunities, but also reduce the price of consultancy services. In an era of technological revolution, a millennial generation is slowly entering the capital market- people accustomed to continuous presence in the online world. Advisory platforms will enable it for them. Friendly user interfaces, notifications that they know from social media and an automated transaction system based on a personalized portfolio are already present in the fintech area. However, in order for these tools to function in such a complicated environment as the financial market, powerful computational engines based on artificial intelligence (AI) must be behind them. Empirica helps financial companies enter this world by providing an advisory platform that automates the asset management processes and is based on innovative solutions in the field of data processing. – adds the CEO of Empirica.

 

Empirica is a Wrocław-based company that offers services such as an Algorithmic Trade Platform implemented with successes on the Warsaw Stock Exchange, solutions from the category of fully automated advisors (robo-advisory platforms) and software built on the basis of blockchain technology.

Blockchain meetup sponsored by Empirica, Wroclaw

Monday June 19th a beautiful sunny day in IT-friendly Wroclaw, tech start-ups and cryptocurrency enthusiast gather together at IT corner Tech meetup, sponsored by Empirica.

The event was planned to focus on key areas of current trends in Blockchain and Ethereum.

The event began with Mr Wojciech Rokosz, Ardeo CEO presentation. The session was dedicated to introduction to the economics of token. Explaining the new changes and updates we are and we will face in our economy with this huge entrance of virtual currencies.

The event later carried on with Mr Marek Kotewicz on introduction to Blockchain, Bitcoin and Ethereum. The session was summarizing the differences between Bitcoin and Ethereum.

The third and last part of the event was conducted with Mr Tomek Drwga, Blockchain meetup organizer,  diving deeper into smart contracts and programming ( introduction to Solidity) for Ethereum.

The event ended with open discussion between the audience and speakers, and visitors were served with beverages.

Do traditional exchanges see Blockchain as an opportunity?

Distributed ledgers technology also known as Blockchain, offers a new way to data management and sharing that is being used to propose solving many inefficiencies affecting the financial industry. Technology experts, Fintech start-ups, banks and market infrastructure providers are working on underlying technologies and its potential use in the industry. However the journey of such transformation may take long. In this post we will focus on the benefits and architectural changes Blockchain could bring to capital market, and some example from such appliances across exchanges around the world.

The potential benefits of Blockchain technologies could cover different process within different stages in capital markets. In order to expose why capital markets would pursue to Blockchain technologies its worth taking a look at the benefits across pre-trade, trade, post-trade and security servicing.

Pre-trade:

Blockchain technology will establish more transparency on verification of holdings. Additionally it reduces the credit exposure and making Know-your-customer way simpler.

Trade:

For this stage, Blockchain technologies provide a more secure, real-time transaction matching and a prompt irrevocable settlement. Blockchain could also help automating the reporting and more transparent supervision for market authorities, we could add higher standards for anti-money laundering.

Post-trade:

In this regard it eliminates the demand for central clearing for real time cash transactions, reducing collateral requirements. Blockchain technology enables quicker novation and effective post-trade processing.

Securities and custody servicing:

Distributed asset ledgers with flat accounting structures could remove some of the role which custodians and sub-custodians play today. Custodians’ function might change to that of a ‘keeper of the keys’, managing holdings data and ensuring automatic securities servicing operations are done correctly. To that end we could also add advantages such as common reference data, simplification of fun servicing, accounting, allocation and administration.

Nasdaq has become the forefront of blockchain revolution, they have and are currently involved with many blockchain jobs. To name these endeavors, it started with Nasdaq Linq blockchain ledger technology. Linq is the primary platform in a recognized financial services firm to show how asset trading could be managed digitally through the usage of blockchain-based platforms. Nasdaq has continued more to blockchain, showing that, it is working to develop a trial utilizing the Nasdaq OMX Tallinn Stock Exchange in Estonia which will discover blockchain technology being used as a way to reduce obstacles preventing investors by engaging in shareholder voting. The intention is to boost efficiency in the processing of purchases and sales of fund units and also to make a device ledger — a place which currently is primarily characterized by manual patterns, longterm cycles and newspaper driven processes.

Read more about Nasdaq activities in Blockchain here.

London Stock Exchange developed to simplify the tracking and management of shareholding information, the new system plans to make a distributed shared registry comprising a list of all shareholder trades, helping to open up new opportunities for investing and trading.

Read more about LSE and IBM activities in Blockchain here.

Australian Securities Exchange (ASX), is all about the replacement of this system that underpins post-trade procedures of Australia’s money equity marketplace, known as CHESS (the Clearing House Electronic Subregister System). ASX is working on a prototype of a post-trade platform for the cash equity market using Blockchain. This initial phase of work was completed in mid-2016. In December 2017 ASX completed its own analysis and assessment of the technology which included:

  • Comprehensive functional testing of the critical clearing and settlement functions currently performed by CHESS
  • Comprehensive non-functional testing (scalability, security and performance requirements) for a replacement system when deployed in a permissioned private network
  • A broad industry engagement process to capture users input on the desired features and functions of a replacement solution
  • Third party security reviews of the Digital Asset DLT based system.

Read more about ASX procedure here.

The Korea Exchange (KRX), South Korea’s sole securities market operator, has established a new service where equity shares of startup businesses may be traded on the open marketplace. The Coinstack platform will offer record and authentication options for your KSM by checking against client references which have already been provided to the platform by Korean banks such as JB Bank, KISA, Lottecard, Paygate in addition to others.

Deutsche Börse Group has developed a theory for riskless transfer of commercial bank funding through an infrastructure based on distributed ledger technology. By combining blockchain technology using its proven post-trade infrastructure, Deutsche Börse aims to achieve efficiencies while at exactly the same time investigating possible new business opportunities enabled by this technology.

Read more about Deutsche Börse Group activities in Blockchain here.

Japan Exchange Group: IBM had teamed up with Japan Exchange Group, which works the Tokyo market, to begin experimenting with blockchain technology for clearing and other operations. IBM says it expect the technology will reduce the cost, complexity and speed of settlement and trading procedures.

The biggest market maker in Poland uses Empirica Platform

It’s been two years since Empirica has successfully deployed the full version of Algorithmic Trading Platform for Dom Maklerski Banku Ochrony Środowiska (DM BOS Brokerage House). Since then DM BOS has become the most active market maker on Polish capital market, running its market making and algorithmic trading operations through Empirica’s platform.

With a great pleasure Empirica would like to inform that DM BOS was lately awarded as Polish Capital Market Leader 2016 by Warsaw Stock Exchange (WSE).

The Gala was attended by representatives of the most important capital market institutions: issuers, brokerage houses, banks, investment firms, industry organisations and associations. DM BOS was awarded in following categories:

 

  • for the biggest share of a local market maker in trading in equities on the Main Market in 2016,
  • for the biggest share of a market maker in the volume of trade in index options in 2016 on the derivatives market,
  • for high quality of the reporting of trades to KDPW_TR in 2016.

– We are very pleased to see, that using our software DM BOS was awarded by WSE in main categories. I would like to sincerely congratulate managers of DM BOS such amazing results for the 2016. Since 2012, when we started our cooperation we are committed to continuously develop and enhance our algorithmic trading platform in order to achieve the highest technical requirements and to satisfy different and changing needs of our customer. I would like to thank DM BOS once again for the opportunity to be a part of these awards. – Michal Rozanski, CEO of Empirica

WSE is the biggest securities exchange in Central and Eastern Europe and organises trading on one of the most dynamically growing capital markets in Europe. WSE operates a regulated market of shares and derivative instruments and the alternative stock market NewConnect for growing companies. WSE is developing Catalyst, a market for issuers of corporate and municipal bonds, as well as commodity markets. Since 9 November 2010, GPW is a public company listed on Warsaw Stock Exchange.

Read more about Empirica Algorithmic Trading Platform

A brief guide to cryptocurrency exchanges

With a rapidly growing interest among technologist as well as trader towards cryptocurrencies, we have been writing a series of posts about them. In this post we will be covering cryptocurrency exchanges and point out their characteristics, and hopefully at the end of this post you may get an idea on which crypotocurrency exchange to do your trades.

Generally there are many doubts and question marks around how reliable cryptocurrency exchanges are. There has been a lot of rumors and news also around governments getting involved and closing down cryptocurrency exchanges, we heard that in South Korea  the governments is going to raid the cryptocurrency exchanges operating in the country and shut them down. If you are curious about that story, one of the officials from the government called that an “unrealistic move”. nevertheless in recent times we have heard numerous speculations about cryptocurrency world which never came to life.

The purpose of this post is to assess the most known and used cryptocurrency exchanges. We have chosen arguably the top rated exchanges, basing on fees applied, how safe the exchange is, if liquidity in the exchange is high or not, the possible pairs and currencies to trade with  USD, Euros or crypto with crypto and so on. The list we have gathered is narrowed with qualities indicated above.

Coinbase

Coinbase is one the most known and used exchange for Cryptocurrencies with up to 10 million users. Coinbase was founded in 2012 and is California based Crypto exchange for cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litcoin, Ripple and etc. After introducing GDAX, Coinbase also aimed more sophisticated traders with a more powerful tool. Coinbase is also available for mobile users. Fees charged are around 0.25%.

Bitfinex

Bitfinex is a Hong Kong based cryptocurrency exchange, specialized for trading Bitcoin and Altcoins. About fees, Bitfinex does have very low fees of 0.2% and for those who instead place trades in the order book will pay only 0.1%. Bitfinex is also available for traders to trade using mobile app. Bitfinex offers a variety of order types. For automating the trades Bitfinex also has provided an API feature for third-party softwares to integrate.

Coinmama

Coinmana is a well-known, Israeli based Bitcoin exchanges which traders could purchase Bitcoin using creadit/debit cards. The fees in Coinmama are about 6%, relatively high among other exchanges. Though Coinmama does not require traders to provide or upload their know your customer (KYC) documents.

Kraken

Kraken known as one of the largest Bitcoin exchanges. Kraken’s users can trade Bitcoin using Canadian dollars, US dollars, British Pounds and Japanese yen. Kraken is in Euro volume and liquidity. Kraken was founded in 211 by Jesse Powel, Kraken is also known for low transaction fees ranging from 0% to 0.26% depending on the account tier and the type of the transaction(buy/sell).

Gemini

Gemini is a US based exchange mainly focused on Bitcoin, US dollars and Ethereum. Gemini was founded in 2015 by Winklevoss twins (same brothers who claimed Mark Zuckerberg stole the idea of Facebook from them). Gemini’s users can deposit Bitcoin, Ether and make bank and wire transfer free of charge. In regard to trading fee, Gemini set to charge 0.25% for sellers and buyers. Gemini is referred to as the safest cryptocurrency exchange out there.

More on cryptocurrency exchanges:

Exchange

 

Estimated traffic

 

users

 

Fees

 

Tokens traded

 

Coinbase

 

109M

 

10.1M

 

0.25%

 

Bitcoin, Litecoin, Ethereum, Bitcoin Cash, Ethereum Classic

 

Bitterex

 

85M

 

5.6M

 

0.25%

 

Bitcon, Ubiq, Litecoin, Blackcoin, Dash, Ethereum, Gambit, Gridcoin

 

Bitfinex

 

 

36.5M

 

2.9M

 

0.20% Bitcoin, Ethereum, Ripple, Litecoin, Bitcoin Cash, EOS, NEO, Iota, Ethereum Classic, Monero, Dash, Zcash, OmiseGO and more
Kraken

 

22.6M

 

2.9M

 

0 to 0.26%

 

Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, Gnosis, EOS, Dogecoin, Tether, Melon, Zcash, Augur tokens, Iconomi, Stellar, Ethereum classic, Ripple, Monero, Dash

 

Okex

 

 

3.5M

 

350K

 

0.20% to 0.25% CommerceBlock, Revain, Bitcoin, Chatcoin, Gifto, Zipper, Ethereum, Zencash and more
Gdax

 

46M

 

4.5M

 

0.25%

 

Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Litecoin, Ethereum
CEX

 

10.8M

 

1.6m

 

3.9%

 

Bitcoin, Ethereum, Bitcoin Cash, Litcoin
Gemini

 

3.4M

 

111K

 

0.25%

 

Bitcoin, Ethereum
Coinmama

 

999K

 

33.4K

 

6%

 

Bitcoin, Ethereum

 

Who is moving FinTech forward in continental Europe? Thoughts after FinTech Forum on Tour.

By Michal Rozanski, CEO at Empirica.

In the very centre of Canary Wharf, London’s financial district, in a brand new EY building, a very interesting FinTech conference took place – FinTech Forum on Tour. The invitation-only conference targeted the most interesting startups from the investment area (InvestTech) from mainland Europe. The event had representative stakeholders from the entire financial ecosystem. As Efi Pylarinou noted – the regulator, the incumbents, the insurgents, and investors, were all represented.

 

Empirica was invited to present its flagship product – Algorithmic Trading Platform, which is a tool professional investors use for building, testing and executing of algorithmic strategies. However, it was amazing to see what is happening in other areas of the investment industry. There were a lot of interesting presentations of companies transforming the FinTech industry in the areas of asset and wealth management, social trading and analytics.

 

The conference was opened with a keynote speech by Anna Wallace from FCA. Anna talked about the mission of FCA’s Innovation Hub; that is to promote innovation and competition in the financial technology field and to ensure that rules and regulations are respected. Whilst listening to Anna it became clear to me what the real advantage of London holds in the race to become the global FinTech capital – London has Wall Street, Silicon Valley and the Government in one place – and what’s most important, they cooperate trying to push things forward in one direction.

 

FinTech Forum on Tour

 

Robo-advisory

A short look at the companies presenting themselves at the event leads to the conclusion that the hottest sector of FinTech right now is robo-advisory. It’s so hot, that one of the panellists noted it’s getting harder and harder to differentiate for robo-advisory startups. On FinTech on Tour this sector was represented by AdviseOnly from Italy, In2experience,  Niiio, Vaamo and Fincite – all from Germany. Ralf Heim from Fincite presented an interesting toolkit ‘algo as a service’ and white label robo-advisory solutions. Marko Modsching from niiio revealed the motivation of retail customers, that “they do not want to be rich, they do not want to be poor”. Scalable Capital stressed the role of risk management in its offering of robo advisory services.

 

Social analysis/Sentiment/ Big Data

The social or sentiment analysis area, keeps growing and gains traction. Every day there’s more data and more trust in the results of backtesting as that data builds up over the years. The social media space is gaining ground. Investment funds as well as FinTech startups are finding new ways to use sentiment data for trading. And, it’s inseparably related with the analysis of huge amounts of data, so technically the systems behind it? are not trivial.

Anders Bally gave an interesting presentation about how to deal with sentiment data and showed  how his company Sentifi is identifying and ranking financial market influencers in social channels, and what they discuss.

Sentitrade showed its sentiment engine for opinion mining that is using proprietary sentiment indicator and trend reversal signals. Sentitrade is concentrated on German-speaking markets.

 

Asset management

From the area of asset management an interesting pitch was given by Cashboard, offering alternative asset classes and preparing now for a  huge TV marketing campaign . StockPluse showed how to combine information derived from social networks and base investment decisions on the overall sentiment. United Signals allows for social investing by making it possible to trade by copying transactions of chosen trading gurus with a proven track record, all in an automated way. And, finally BondIT, an Israeli company, presented tools for fixed income portfolio construction, optimization and rebalancing with use of algorithms.

 

Bitcoin and Blockchain

An interesting remark was given   by one of the panelist: ‘we have nearly scratched the surface for what blockchain technology can be applied to in financial industry’. Looking at the latest news reports that are saying that big financial institutions are heavily investing in blockchain startups and their own research in this field, there is definitely something in it.

A company from this sector of FinTech – Crypto Facilities, represented by its CEO Timo Schaefer, showed  the functionalities of its bitcoin derivatives trading platform.

 

Other fields

Hervé Bonazzi, CEO of Scaled Risk, presented its technologically advanced Big Data platform for financial institutions for risk management, compliance, analytics and fraud detection. Using Hadoop under the hood and low latency processing. Ambitious as it sounds.

Analysis of financial data for company  valuations, Valutico presented a tool that’s using big data, AI and swarm intelligence. Dorothee Fuhrmann from Prophis Technologies (UK) presented a generic tool for financial institutions to derive value and insights from data, interestingly describing indirect exposures and a hidden transmission mechanism.

Stephen Dubois showed  what Xignite (US) has to offer to financial institutions and other FinTech startups in the area of real-time and historical data that is stored in the cloud and accessible by proprietary API.

 Qumram, in an energetic presentation delivered by Mathias Wegmueller, described technology for recording online sessions on web, mobile and social channels, allowing for the analysis of user behaviour and strengthening internal security policy.

 

Conclusion

London is the place to be for FinTech startups. No city in Europe gives such possibilities. Tax deductions for investors. Direct help from the UK regulator FCA. Great choice of incubators and bootcamps for startups. No place gives such a kick. Maybe Silicon Valley is the best place for finding investor for a startup, maybe the Wall Street is the centre of the financial world, but London is the place that combines both the tech and the finance. It has a real chance of becoming the FinTech capital of the world.

 

About organizators

The people responsible for creating both a great and professional atmosphere at the event were Samarth Shekhar and Michael Mellinghoff. Michael was a great mentor of mine who transformed my pitch from a long and quite boring list of functionalities of our product to something that was bearable for the audience. Michael let me thank you once more for the time and energy you have devoted to Empirica’s pitch!

 

And because the FinTech scene in our region is not well organized yet, I sincerely advise all FinTech startups from Central and Eastern Europe to attend cyclic events of FinTech Forum in Frankfurt organized by Techfluence professionals!

 
Read about our Lessons learned from FinTech software projects.

 

 

FinTech Companies