“Zurich is an Ideal Test Market for New Ideas”

As Head Corporate Ventures of SIX and co-founder of the F10 Fintech Incubator, Andreas Iten knows the Zurich FinTech scene inside out and prophesies a great future for it.
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As the operator of the Swiss financial center infrastructure, SIX promotes new technologies. You are at the pulse of such developments for SIX. How do you rate Zurich’s innovative strength?

In an international comparison, our universities are very good, and they play a significant role in promoting talent and innovation. This is why major tech firms choose to base their operations here. Thanks to the good infrastructure and high quality of living, Zurich is also ideal as a test market for new ideas. At the same time, it is still small enough not to have to make long journeys between the companies. Financial institutions, including those that are internationally active, are located within a concentrated area. In an age where everything has to happen very quickly, swift access to the decision-makers is extremely important – and this is very easy here in Zurich.

As Head Corporate Ventures of SIX and co-founder of the F10 Fintech Incubator, Andreas Iten knows the Zurich FinTech scene inside out and prophesies a great future for it.

You stage Europe’s largest FinTech hackathon in Zurich. How successful is it?

The SIX hackathons – or the FinTech Games as we call them – are a real success story. Since 2015, we have been receiving over 500 applications to take part from all over the world every year. Each year, we bring 150 talented people to the Schiffbau Zürich, where they spend the whole weekend developing future technologies for the financial sector. Some of the projects developed at these Games have already led to a number of FinTech startups, which are successfully holding their own on the market. The focus is not so much on marketing or recruiting for SIX, but rather on turning the best teams into start-up enterprises. The F10 FinTech Incubator & Accelerator, which was founded by SIX and is now supported by 11 members, plays an important role here. An exciting ecosystem of companies from the financial and insurance sectors, start-ups, and investors has sprung up, which can easily compete with locations such as London or Berlin.

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The Zurich–Zug axis is a global pacemaker in the development of blockchain: How do you personally rate the potential of blockchain?

As far as the benefits of blockchain are concerned, we are currently going through a phase of unrealistic expectations. A lot of marketing has been carried out on this topic. However, this technology and way of thinking will turn the financial system upside down in future – I’m convinced of that. There is still a great deal to do and it needs a pioneering spirit if it is to play a leading role. But with our combined efforts and the advantages of the locations Zug and Zurich that I have already mentioned, we are well on the way.

Which Fin-Tech expert would you like to invite to Zurich to exchange experiences, and why?

I would love to talk to Elon Musk. For me, he is the visionary entrepreneur par excellence. Long before he started with Tesla and Space X, with PayPal he demonstrated for the first time that existing customer problems can be successfully solved with technology. I think that people and companies from outside the industry will increasingly shape the financial sector in future.

Where in Zurich do bankers and blockchain nerds meet for an afterwork drink?

There are so many great bars in Zurich, and I don’t want to leave anyone out. But I think that the only place where these stereotypes meet and drink a beer together is the F10. We have put an F10 label onto a local Zurich beer and offer beer for free every day after 5pm – naturally only in a quantity that promotes innovative ideas.