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比利时:隐秘的欧盟金融科技强国

国际资讯

比利时:隐秘的欧盟金融科技强国

全球公司都开始打造新的数字经济,每个地方都有金融科技创新失败的情况。在这种局面下,比利时逐渐兴起成为金融科技中心之一,并成为许多人眼中的欧盟金融科技中心。

这个欧洲小国数个世纪以来一直走在创新前沿,对科技的发展做出了许多历史贡献。1927年,比利时科学家Georges Lemaître率先提出了宇宙大爆炸理论,该理论目前仍是物理学领域宇宙起源的主流理论。

加入领先的行业活动!

自英国退欧后,英国在保持自己金融科技领先地位方面面临着重大压力,许多英国金融机构正将目光转向西方,希望借此来保持自己在欧洲大陆的地位。比利时首都布鲁塞尔通常是他们的首选,有几家企业已经在此开设了办事处,预计还会有更多企业加入。

金融创新关键因素

越来越多致力于开发开创性新技术的金融科技公司被吸引到比利时来,以比利时作为基地。该国囊括了国际决策机构、全球支付基础架构提供商以及一个非常具有吸引力的商业生态系统。

欧洲金融科技平台B-Hive根据2017年的金融科技交易量制定了一份欧洲金融科技排名,比利时目前排名第五。B-Hive是一个活跃的生态系统,包括金融服务主流提供商、创新初创企业和负责金融和科技机构的政府人员。

布鲁塞尔地处欧洲中心,从大部分欧洲金融中心均可轻松抵达布鲁塞尔中心地区,因此这里汇聚了全球众多金融科技创新企业和金融机构。比利时周边500英里范围内聚集了欧洲80%的购买力,毫无疑问,这里是建立和发展企业的最佳地点之一。

此外,传统金融形象最近也有所改变。随着全球经济持续向数字化方向转变,在互联网熏陶下长大的年轻一代越来越青睐无国界和无限制交易解决方案。尤其是金融科技领域对年轻人的吸引力更大,进而为行业带来新活力和愿景。

本土创新

布鲁塞尔和其他比利时城市以为金融科技公司提供高额研发资金而出名,并凭借进入欧洲市场的潜力吸引跨国企业前来开设办事处。当地创新生态系统包括数十家研发中心、孵化器、加速器和科学公园,还有一百多家技术公司,并且还在不断发展。

特别是弗拉芒区的鲁汶,受当地科技巨头IMEC的影响,该城市已成为重要的技术中心。IMEC是一家独立的全球电子和数字社区研究中心,专门研究纳米电子和数字技术,中心内有4000名员工,从事最新尖端技术和硬件发展。

IMEC的净室能力、生活实验室和培训设施对于产品微调来说至关重要,而他们的资金和企业支持,特别是与弗拉芒区数字研究中心iMinds合并后,能够帮助新的数字和技术公司成功起步和发展。

政治支持和本土愿景

为帮助公司打入市场并实施监管标准,比利时有几家同时负责欧洲和国际金融活动的组织,包括欧洲支付服务提供者协会、比利时金融科技联盟和欧洲安全交易协会。

至于资金方面,比利时政府为金融科技初创企业和处于发展阶段的公司提供了大量资金支持。在保险公司和银行的支持下,政府联合数家大型投资商,为科技项目打造超级基金。

企业家、科学家和公司共同通过强大的扩展网络实现发展,与此同时,针对投资扩大税费减免范围和进行财政激励,为公司的发展提供支持。这对希望参与竞争激烈的金融科技市场的年轻初创企业和中小企业来说极为重要。

欧洲与比利时的关系

对许多金融科技公司来说,与大型金融机构保持密切关系,这点至关重要。在指导单一欧元支付区(SEPA)的电子支付方式方面,位于布鲁塞尔的欧洲支付理事会(EPC)不可或缺。它为SEPA的居民和企业提供了一种统一的同步支付体验,并且这种体验并不仅限于一个国家。

该理事会直接或间接地影响了34个欧洲国家/地区居民的日常支付方式,相当于每年400亿笔交易。EPC设置的标准是面向支付卡的规范,同时也影响了欧洲的移动支付互操作性,提高了移动支付的便捷性、安全性、可靠性和性价比。

这些都是金融科技公司发展时必须考虑的因素。无论基层技术如何尖端,支付服务提供商必须要考虑和采纳EPC设置的标准,尽可能以广泛的社区基础提供服务。因此,卡生产商可以更轻松地向本地机构提供这些系统化准则。

位于比利时的金融科技公司不仅受益于该国的高速发展,还能够不受阻碍地进入广阔的欧洲市场。为帮助金融科技实现全球发展,我们需要更多像比利时一样强大的基地来激励创新,提供政治和本土支持,帮助有想法的团队实现愿景。只有这样,这些团队才会推动金融科技发展超出本地范围,并真正转型为全球经济。

Companies all over the world have begun forging a new digital economy, with pockets of fintech innovation buried in every corner of the globe. Amidst it all, Belgium has emerged as one such hub and many in the industry now consider it to be the fintech center of the European Union.

This relatively small country has for centuries been at the forefront of innovation, with many historical contributions to the development of science and technology. Belgian scientist Georges Lemaître first proposed the Big Bang theory in 1927, which to this date is the leading theory in physics as to the origins of the universe.

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With Brexit now placing considerable strain on the UK to maintain its position as a fintech leader, many British financial institutions are now looking westward to secure their place within mainland Europe. Brussels, the capital of Belgium, is frequently the first choice, with several businesses already opening up offices there and many others soon to follow.

Key Ingredients for Financial Innovation

Fintech companies developing groundbreaking new technologies are increasingly drawn to Belgium as their base. The country is home to international decision-making institutions, global payment infrastructure providers, and a highly engaging business ecosystem.

In counting the number of fintech deals in 2017, Belgium currently sits at 5th place in the European fintech ranking according to B-Hive, the European fintech platform. B-Hive is a vibrant ecosystem of front-row providers of financial services, dynamic startups, and government actors working in financial and technological institutions.

Due to its central location, the capital of Brussels is easy to reach from most EU financial hubs bringing together many fintech innovators and financial institutions from all over the world. With 80 percent of European purchasing power within a 500-mile reach, Belgium is undoubtedly one of the best places to establish and grow a business.

Additionally, the traditional image of finance has changed recently. As the global economy continues to shift into a digital space, solutions for transacting without borders and limitations appeal to a younger generation who grew up with the internet at their fingertips. Fintech is a field which attracts young people especially, who bring their new energy and vision to the industry.

Homegrown Innovation

Brussels and other Belgian cities are known for providing excellent opportunities for fintech companies with high R&D funding, attracting multinational companies to open their offices there with a potential to reach well across Europe. Dozens of research centers, incubators, accelerators, and science parks, as well as over 100 tech companies, are contributing to the innovation ecosystem that continues to grow.

The Flemish city of Leuven, in particular, earned its reputation as a vital tech center due to the role of the local tech giant IMEC. This independent research hub for global electronics and digital community, focusing on nanoelectronics and digital technologies, is home to 4,000 people working on the latest cutting-edge tech and hardware improvement.

IMEC’s cleanroom capacities, living labs, and training facilities are of invaluable importance for product fine-tuning, while their funds and entrepreneurial support, especially merged with iMinds, the Flemish digital research center, help new digital and tech companies set off and grow successfully.

Political Support, Local Vision

To help companies reach the market and implement regulative standards, Belgium is home to several organizations working in both the European and international level of financial activity, including the European Association of Payment Service Providers, Federation FinTech Belgium, and the European Association for Secure Transactions.

When it comes to funding, fintech startups and growth-stage companies can count on the extensive funding support of the Belgian government. Backed by insurance companies and banks, the government has brought together several major investors to create a super-fund for tech projects.

Entrepreneurs, scientists, and businesses come together, thriving through a strong network of scale-ups, while expanded tax shelters and fiscal incentives for investments in development support the growth of companies. This is especially important for young startups and SMEs looking to break ground in the highly competitive fintech market.

Europe’s Relationship with Belgium

Operating within close proximity to major financial institutions are of great strategic importance for many fintech companies. The European Payments Council (EPC) in Brussels is a cornerstone fintech institution, guiding electronic payment methods in the Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA). It enables a uniform and synchronized payment experience to citizens and businesses across the SEPA, and not just in their home countries.

Directly and indirectly, the Council is affecting the ways citizens of over 34 European countries pay for their goods every day, equating to almost 40 billion transactions yearly. The standardization set by EPC is the norm for payment cards, also influencing the interoperability of mobile payments at the European level, improving their convenience, safety, reliability, and cost-effectiveness.

These are vital aspects that must be accounted for in the endeavors of any fintech company. No matter how cutting-edge the underlying technology is, the payment service providers inevitably have to consider and apply the standards set by EPC, to be able to serve as broad a community base as possible. Therefore, it is much easier for card producers to be local to the institutions providing these systemic guidelines.

Fintech companies based in Belgium not only benefit from the high growth of the region but are positioned in the front row as the broader European market unfolds. In order for the fintech industry to thrive globally, we need strong bases like Belgium, which nurture innovation, with both political and local support helping to carry forward the vision of these ambitious teams. Only then can these teams driving the fintech movement reach beyond their local folds and truly transform the economy on a global scale.

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