The Darwinian world of financial technology

“The problem with the French is they have no word for entrepreneur,” former US President George Bush jnr was said to have remarked to Tony Blair.

To test this Texan wisdom, The Lens Blog has been on the road visiting the network of fintech laboratories growing up across Europe. These bring together clever people from around the world, combining private sector insight (and funding), academic research and government’s ability to influence policy. The lingua franca may be French, Mandarin or hexadecimal – but invariably a strong sense of entrepreneurship runs throughout the organisation.

Already these are generating solutions to longstanding pain points in the investment industry – helping management companies to conduct due diligence on their global network of distributors, building automated tools to reduce the regulatory overhead of KYC, or delivering a blockchain solution that enables securities lending without the need to move the underlying securities.

But we must remember this can be a risky space in which to play. The Lens Blog knows of one award-winning blockchain company that is soon to turn off the lights. Just 18 months ago, the team leader was celebrity speaker on the California technology circuit. Now he’s put on a tie and negotiating a return to the banking industry, having struggled to convince the market that this is the start of the blockchain revolution. The journey from tech champion to job seeker can be disturbingly short in either direction.