Campus - 22.11.2017 - 00:00
22 November 2017. FinTech is becoming increasingly important. Even the well-established financial institutes and big banks have noticed this trend by now. This attracts investors and capital to the FinTech industry. The FinTech scene is also gaining ground in Switzerland. This is why the University of St.Gallen launched the first HSG FinTech Challenge. The green light was given in September. The final took place on Tuesday, 21 November.
Rapid change in financial technology
The jury consisting of corporate representatives, academics, investors and founders had chosen four teams who gave short presentations of their business ideas at the final of the 2017 HSG FinTech Challenge 2017. In his welcoming address, Prof. Dr. Florian Weigert, Executive Director MBF-HSG, spoke of the rapid change in financial technology. This, he said, had incited the University of St.Gallen to make this trend a topic for discussion among students as well. Commerzbank and the main incubator company were attracted as sponsors for the 2017 HSG FinTech Challenge.
There was still a great deal more to do to make services in the finance industry simpler and more comfortable, underlined Dr. Stefan Otto, Divisional Board Member at Commerzbank and an HSG alumnus. He gave an introduction to the well-established Between the Towers event in Frankfurt, in which the winning teams would participate in order to present their business ideas among other selected FinTech start-ups and among investors. In addition, the winners would have an opportunity to become acquainted with Frankfurt’s vibrant FinTech ecosystems in a guided tour organised by Commerzbank and main incubator.
Presentation of exciting business ideas
The teams’ presentations revealed that they had picked completely different challenges for their start-ups. Four MBF students want to make tax returns easier with the help of "Sharkes". Their app would make paying taxes "painless", transparent and rewarding, they said about their project. The Treashare project is about a completely new trading model for paintings and other objets d’art. According to the students, they make use of a blockchain technology, a digital and decentralised database which adds to and manages a constantly growing number of data sets like a chain.
The third team, TWHIZ, developed a platform for business trips that positively encourages employees to reduce travel expenses and thus helps the company to save costs. The students emphasised that this business model already existed in the US but not in Europe. Finally, the fourth team presented its idea of a new model for car insurance. It envisages a peer-to-peer solution covered by a big corporation qua reinsurer.
A great deal of praise from the jury
The jury praised both the basic ideas and the presentations of all four projects. After an intensive discussion, the jury chose the two teams with the best projects, underlined one of the jury members. First place was accorded to the TWHIZ team with the four students Alexander Bechtel (Ph. D. in Economics and Finance), Michael Blaschke, Sebastian Büchler and Jonas Romer (all Ph.D. in Finance). The runner-up team was Treashare with Aniruddhan Balakrishnan (Assessment Year), Simon Bienz (MBI) and Matthieu Dupraz (Assessment Year).
The first HSG FinTech Challenge was open to all students from the Assessment Year to the Doctoral Level. According to Lea Bühler, MBF Programme Coordinator, six teams had submitted a business idea for assessment. "The field of participants was small but of good quality. All the projects that were submitted had potential," she said.
The School of Finance’s new lecture seminar in Financial Technology started almost at the same time as the FinTech Challenge. The 4-ECTS course, which is open to all MBF students and is run by Assistant Professor Christoph Aymanns, aims to familiarise students with technologies and methods which drive innovation in various FinTech domains, with online credit lines, robo-advisors, cryptocurrencies and intelligent contracts being cases in point.
HSG FinTech Challenge also in 2018
The goal was to run the HSG FinTech Challenge every year, said Lea Bühler. The next edition, in 2018, had already been scheduled. "The event is eminently suitable for providing students with new opportunities to get actively involved in FinTech. It also provides an opportunity to obtain information about the new technologies which will have an impact on the future of financial services."
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