Startups lining up for space in Stockholm's first fintech hub

Published december 2016 in collaboration between Invest Stockholm and The Local.

Find out why fintech companies in Stockholm can’t wait to join the newest startup hub, and how it will affect the city’s status as a digital financial centre.

Financial tech (fintech) entrepreneur Sofie Blakstad expects to be spending a lot more time in Stockholm in 2017. The UK native and founder of hiveonline, a financial trust platform for small businesses in Scandinavia, is among the first wave of startups to reserve space in Stockholm’s new fintech hub.

“Being a part of this new hub in Stockholm gives us easy access to a fantastic network of investors, government, authorities, and other fintech startups,” says Blakstad.

“It also offers us education, mentoring opportunities, and access to advice as we go through the many peaks and valleys that characterise a fintech startup's financial and emotional rollercoaster.”

Blakstad is one of many movers and shakers in the European fintech community that find themselves drawn to Stockholm, a city that increasingly stands out when it comes to fintech innovation.

With high-profile success stories like Klarna, iZettle, and Tink, among others, Stockholm has gained a reputation as a fintech leader.

And investors have been pouring money into Stockholm fintech startups at break-neck pace. In the past five years alone, Stockholm-based companies received 18 percent of all private placements in fintech companies across Europe.

“After reading the ‘Stockholm – Europe’s No.2 FinTech city’ report as well as the SSE Fintech report, it was easy to see that Stockholm is a major global fintech city,” says Matthew Argent of BLC Advisors and co-founder of the soon-to-be opened Stockholm FinTech Hub.

But Argent believed the Swedish capital still needed a “physical centre of gravity” for its expanding fintech ecosystem.

“Building the Stockholm FinTech Hub will ensure that we give our fintech companies, large and small, a world class support platform that will enable Stockholm fintech to continue to excel,” he adds.

And news that Stockholm will soon have a fintech hub of its own has the city’s startup scene buzzing.

“I’ve been amazed at the response,” says Argent.

Nearly 50 companies contacted Argent within a week of the November 29th announcement asking to join the hub, with about half expressing an interest in office space.

He adds that several VC firms from across Europe with an interest in Swedish fintech, as well as seven financial institutions, will be members of the hub from day one.

In some ways however, the flurry of emails and phone calls Argent has were expected – as he’s has long seen the need for a central gathering place that Stockholm’s booming fintech community could call home.

"The startup ecosystem here is really built around strong horizontal networks with co-working spaces, events, meetups, and other fora that allowed people to mix, mingle, and learn from one another," Argent explains.

“But we felt it was time for a more ‘verticalised’ hub – an environment where fintech companies, banks, investors and government can communicate, collaborate and integrate in one physical place. This will enable the whole ecosystem to rapidly create solutions to the challenges specific to fintech as well as maximising opportunity in this global marketplace.”

The new hub, which is also supported by Invest Stockholm, KPMG, Synch LawNFT Ventures and Wileyfox, is on course to throw open its doors in central Stockholm in early 2017.

And Blakstad can’t wait to give hiveonline – an online platform that helps facilitate transactions and build trust among banks, small businesses, and regulators – a foothold in Stockholm.

“As an early stage startup, I need access to the network the hub can introduce me to - skilled people, potential partners, and serial entrepreneurs who can give advice about investors,” she explains.

“For a platform business like mine, every competitor is a potential partner, so we’re really looking forward to engaging with the broader fintech community here in Stockholm. There are lots of onboarding opportunities when it comes to the latest in UI, blockchain, you name it.”

In addition to finding potential partners and sharing knowledge, the new hub will also offer fintech startups a number of other practical benefits, including legal services from lawyers with specialized expertise related to startups and financial services.

“By gathering everyone together in one place, we can offer companies direct access to both banks and government,” Argents explains. “We can speed up the dialogue, which means faster development times, access to funding and a quicker launch.”

And “it works both ways” he adds, noting that banks and regulators are also interested in engaging with new fintech companies to explore how to leverage them in different ways – something that can accomplished much easier with the hub.

And having just been approved as a member of the Global FinTech Hubs Federation (GFHF), the Stockholm hub can offer members “direct international access” to 42 different hubs around the world.

“If our members are looking at new international markets, they don’t have to make cold calls and figure out who to contact to validate market fit. Instead, we’ve basically got a hotline to all the important players – so processes that might have taken two months can now happen in days,” says Argent.

Indeed, Blakestad is looking forward to simultaneously leveraging both the local Stockholm fintech network as well as a global one offered by the Stockholm hub.

“The hub's global network helps us to keep in touch with the rapidly developing world of fintech elsewhere, which is really critical for a learning and growing platform business,” she explains.

“Plus, we’ve got a globally dispersed team so which means I’m often on my own, so there are huge benefits for me personally in being amongst other people who are going through the same challenges.”

Argent adds that the hub will help Stockholm maintain its privileged position as a “European financial centre for the digital age”.

For more information please contact, Matthew Argent - or +46 73 533 92 72