In September I had the privilege to meet with all of the chosen start-up participants in the Accenture FinTech Innovation Lab program in Hong Kong.  I am delighted to share a brief update about the program’s progress.

For the past three years, Hong Kong’s financial institutions have walked the talk of embracing innovation by mentoring fintech start-ups in Accenture’s FinTech Innovation Lab.  Much of the work has taken place quietly with rolled-up sleeves and behind closed doors, facilitated by our Director, Adrian Seto, and supported by the Accenture Asia-Pacific Financial Services leadership team.

This year, the Accenture FinTech Innovation Lab program began officially in August.  As was the case last year, the ‘speed dating’ sessions gave the start-ups the opportunity to deliver elevator pitches to the financial institutions with whom we are partnering.  I was impressed by the quality of the pitches and had the opportunity to discuss unique business models with each of the eight chosen companies.

The start-ups’ business models will be refined through a series of workshops, panel discussions and coaching sessions on product and business development.  At the end of this year’s program, five of the eight participants will be selected to present their concepts to potential investors and financial industry executives.  During the past few weeks these companies have been on whirlwind ‘speed dating’ tours, meeting with Bank of America Merrill Lynch, BNP Paribas, Commonwealth Bank of Australia, Credit Suisse, Generali, Goldman Sachs, HSBC, J.P. Morgan, MayBank, Morgan Stanley, SunLife Financial and UBS.

‘Speed dating’ takes place between the start-up and a top financial institution.  Business ideas are presented while the appropriate experts listen and offer feedback and advice.  This feedback spans the spectrum.  Sometimes it is tough love: the candidates are told the experts have seen this before, their tech is not innovative enough, their ideas too complicated for what should be a simple problem, or their solutions not scalable.

Many of the mentors say the process of working with start-ups challenges their thinking on the status quo.  The start-ups say it gives them unprecedented access to experts they might otherwise not have had the opportunity to meet.  Everyone wins, and the feel-good takeaway is that Hong Kong is supporting the nurturing of innovation in the financial services sector.

Many thanks for those who have contributed to the program so far.

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