Ohio’s Fintech Accelerator Gaining Global Momentum
Fintech71, a cross-industry Ohio-based accelerator focused on financial technology, is gaining momentum across the globe since it launched in late April. With the applications process now well under way, the unique non-profit collaboration platform is seeing significant interest from fintechs as well as more corporates joining the partnership.
“We can monitor the applications in real time and are seeing a lot of fascinating ideas, particularly from abroad,” said Matt Armstead, executive director for Fintech71. “We are very pleased with the interest we have seen so far and are looking forward to engaging with the applicants in the weeks to come.”
As Fintech71 spreads its wings, more partners are coming on board. Since its formal launch last month, Visa, Capital One, Diebold Nixdorf, First Financial Bancorp and Apex Supply Chain Technologies have also joined the effort. Fintech71 is also partnering with a number of global innovation efforts, such as Holland Fintech. Singularity University (SU) just announced its first off-the-West-Coast accelerator – to be based in Ohio. Focusing on advancing the solutions that connect communities and their people, SU’s “Smart City” accelerator will co-locate with Fintech71 in a unique downtown location in Columbus, Ohio, at 107 High Street.
“Our interest in supporting Fintech71 is based on Visa’s newly-gained presence in the state with the acquisition of CardinalCommerce, a Mentor-based digital commerce authentication company,” said Mark Nelsen, senior vice president of Risk and Authentication Products at Visa. “In working with the exceptional Cardinal team, we recognize first-hand the incredible value of the talent in the region. We want to be close to this innovation effort.”
The story of why fintech innovation fits in Ohio is simple. Financial services is already the second-largest private sector in Ohio and sixth-largest in the United States by GDP, providing a natural home for partnerships and collaboration at a significant cost advantage. The state also has a well-respected educational and research system with 200 colleges graduating 170,000 students every year; 35,000 of them are entering the workforce every year as direct candidates for employment in fintech and financial services. Finally, Ohio’s deep engineering and advanced manufacturing capabilities remain at the world-class level. It is this unique combination of skills and resources that positions Ohio like no other place to scale up in financial technology across the entire innovation value chain, providing talent, capabilities, partners, and cost advantage - all in one location.
Companies like Diebold Nixdorf and Apex Supply Chain Technologies are examples of traditional manufacturing-meets-finance companies thriving in Ohio. Diebold Nixdorf, a world leader in enabling connected commerce across the financial and retail industries, has been reinventing the space with its global services organization and software-defined interconnected systems. Diebold Nixdorf's approach to innovation places the consumer at the center of the experience to drive convenience and security through biometric authentication, mobile-enabled cardless transactions and data-driven strategies. Diebold Nixdorf’s recent investment in mobile technology firm Kony, Inc. further positions the company to drive growth and transformation within the commerce ecosystem.
“As a leader in driving connected commerce and bringing the most innovative solutions to the market, we continuously look to fuel our company with the brightest talent,” said John Kristoff, Diebold Nixdorf Chief Marketing and Communications Officer. “We, along with Fintech71, are committed to accelerating the advancement and development of financial technology in Ohio.”
As Mason, Ohio-based Apex Supply Chain Technologies extends its Internet of Things technology from industrial into consumer-facing segments such as retail, the company’s participation in Fintech71 underscores its interest in secure online transactions and how its cashless vending products can interact and innovate with blockchain. “New uses for blockchain technology are being discovered every day,” says Kent Savage, the company’s founder and CEO. “Fintech71 is at the white-hot center of startup innovation as a result. This mutually beneficial collaboration will help fuel the constant evolution of our automated dispensing solutions.”
Regardless of the fintech application, Ohio provides fertile ground for partnerships and access to tech-savvy talent.
KeyBank, Progressive, The Kroger Co., Grange Insurance, Huntington, FifthThird, First Federal Lakewood, Root Insurance, Safelite and Silicon Valley Bank are already among the companies backing Fintech71. As part of its mission to attract jobs and investment to the state, JobsOhio, a private, non-profit economic development corporation, has committed to support the accelerator’s internal operations costs. JPMorgan Chase, which is among the state’s largest technology employers, will lend its thought leadership and industry expertise to the program. Ohio-based industry associations, including the Ohio Bankers League, are supporting the initiative, and more private sector partnership announcements with Fintech71 are expected soon.
The application will remain open until Monday, July 17. The inaugural class of 10 to 12 companies will start Sept. 10, 2017, with each selected team being awarded a $100,000 equity-based startup-friendly stipend. All fintech-related innovations ready for commercialization are encouraged to apply. International companies are particularly welcome and visa support will be provided for outstanding candidates. For additional details, visit www.Fintech71.com.