When living and working in Belgium you tend to get used to jokes about being famous for chocolates and beer. Indeed, very few people know about the fintech community and the long history of financial services technology in Brussels, but we believe things can change quickly. We used to be mediocre at soccer but recently became number one in the FIFA ranking, and now the whole country is looking forward to beating the Germans at the European championship next year in France. So why not try the same in Fintech?
All joking aside, we are not only focused on our local community. We set up Eggsplore in the belief fintech is a global market, and see Europe mainland and in particular the Eurozone as our playing field. Who is we, you might ask? Jurgen Ingels, who sold his company Clear2Pay to FIS last year, came up with the idea and was joined by Wim De Waele, former CEO of iMinds, ranked last year one of the top 25 university incubators in the world. Together with Alexandra Gschwind and Ellen Thijs we joined forces because we all believe there is an opportunity in this space to make a difference.
Our goal is to help entrepreneurs scale their business by supporting them in conquering the European market. Our hub is specifically focusing on companies that want to expand their operations in Europe, whether they are from the US, Singapore or local. While we support start-ups we focus primarily on scale-ups with global ambitions. We build on a pool of talent that has grown over het last decades in Brussels around organizations such as SWIFT, Euroclear, BNY Melon, Master Card and others who all have global or European HQ in Brussels.
In line with the fiber of our ecosystem we have a strong focus on transaction banking, API-based banking and market infrastructure technologies and we will involve not only start-ups and growth companies in our ecosystem but also corporates and banks.
We also want to forge close ties to the European commission and its related institutions. Regulation, not just financial, but also with respect to privacy and data , is going to be crucial for the evolution of this market. Companies like Facebook and Google are technology powerhouses given their financial strength and market reach but when the European commission speaks, they listen.
Now to come to the 1 million $ question: do banks need initiatives like ours. As you can tell I am old enough to have lived through the bursting of the Internet bubble and I believe all the symptoms are there to once again speak of a technology and specifically a Fintech bubble. There is just too much talk about unicorns, too many corporate incubator initiatives and too much money in the market. As a McKinsey partner told me yesterday, if we start a venture fund it is time to short on Fintech. We are not there yet but the danger is looming. But banks do need to care: they need to transform to technology-driven platform providers and offer services developed by themselves and by smaller tech partners. And that is happening: ING just announced their Fintech Village accelerator in our hub and we believe more partners will follow their strategy.
It takes a special kind of person to sell his company and then not go lie on the beach but start up something new from scratch, as Jurgen did. I myself started up the European operations twice for US tech companies and personally experienced how tough it is to enter in the European market. Our USP is that Eggsplore is a hub set up by entrepreneurs for entrepreneurs that want to scale globally and specifically in mainland Europe. We hope to celebrate their success with you at the European Cup Finals in France next year.
Wim De Waele