What we learned from the US fintech sector — a short summary of our trip with Fintechlab

Our investor, MKB Fintechlab organized a business trip for the banks’ executive level management in digital areas, and three of the portfolio startups, Blueopes, Family Finances and Space Invoices were selected to travel with them. We just spent eight days on the East Coast, mainly in Washington DC, and the financial capital of the world: the mighty New York.

Why go to the US? The reasons are simple: open markets, easily accessible capital and a culture of unique entrepreneurship, superb technology and financial education. Whenever I travelled and spent time in America, I always learned a lot. This time was no exception.

The main purpose of the trip was attending the Select USA Summit. This conference featured educational workshops, networking, many booths for service providers and local communities and several prominent participants. We especially liked the Governor of Kentucky, Matt Bevin’s speech because he is among the few, who understands the needs of the private sector about the speed of regulatory decision making. At the end of the summit I had the chance to speak with him for a few minutes, and I realized, that despite the recent political developments of the USA giving me the impression of retreating from the world, most people remain open to foreign innovations and ideas.

We also spoke to many state representatives, and learned that some of the states have really favorable laws for startups. Arizona has a very generous regulation sandbox, giving new fintech companies a two year runway to test out their products on the market, for up to 10,000 (local) customers. Other states or counties like South Dakota, Fairfax, VA or Puerto Rico have a low tax environment for these kind of innovative companies. Despite the opportunities, a high barrier remains in entering the market, because of the huge competition and climbing costs of customer acquisition. As a digital wealth management company, we are highly interested in innovations in securities market investments, and as a firm focusing on Socially Responsible Investments we are always curious about the attitude of retail investors. In both areas, we were encouraged by many conference participants that we are on the right track.

During the summit, we were also invited to a reception at the Hungarian Embassy, where we met Ambassador Szabó László, and his colleagues who are working hard to promote our country to investors and partners in the USA. The embassy is working on a very promising incubator concept which would help Hungarian startups enter the US market in a time- and cost-effective way.

After the final day of the summit, we went to New York. One of my early dreams in life was to go to Wall Street and see the NYSE trading floor live. I was 21 when I could fulfill my dream and watch the brokers beehive for a couple of minutes. Now on this trip we stayed at a new coworking / coliving space in the heart of the Financial District, literally on Wall Street which also became an inspiration for us. The apartment complex had a community-like feeling, we were able to chat with other guests, who were likely the same age, and had similar goals and dreams like us.

This great location provided us an easy access to New York’s financial and startup scene.

Our delegation visited Rise New York, the FinTech Innovation Lab, one of the biggest fintech acceleration program and also OrchardBlock, New York’s first blockchain coworking and incubator. It was inspiring to see how other programs are run and to meet some of the key players in fintech in NYC.

The trip provided us not only with amazing learning opportunities, but many useful connections, and possible partnerships in the long term, and even a little fun. We are always open to new opportunities and innovations, and look forward to make similar trips in the future.

Balázs Faluvégi