Boston, the capital and most populous city of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in the United States, is doing really well in fintech. The Boston Fintech ecosystem has the people, companies, pipeline, money, and resources which are essential ingredients of a fintech ecosystem, placing Boston on the right footing to compete with global fintech hubs.
Fintech encompasses all technological innovations in the financial sector. Big money moves in the sector as revealed by a recent report by CB insights which found out that the top ten banks in the U.S have invested up to $3.6 billion in 56 fintech start-ups between 2012 and 2017. World fintech capitals such as London, New York City and Silicon Valley are well known for their strong emphasis on business and finance.
According to Doug Nelson, the author of Taking Stock of the Boston Fintech Landscape 2017, The Boston fintech ecosystem has recorded numerous positive changes over the last few years. The city’s traditional strength is in the enterprise software for the buy side with companies such as Interactive Data, Charles River, Eze Castle, Linedata, and Intext doing very well.
Nelson further observes that the second wave of Boston fintech has seen a flurry of new fintech firms outside the enterprise software space, with particular focus on payments and insurance technology. Over the last three years, the city has experienced the rise of “non-profit meetups” such as fintech sandbox, the Boston Fintech Meetup, MIT Fintech and Insurtech Boston –which have collectively injected a sense of excitement and energy into the Boston fintech ecosystem.
Jack Klinck, the managing partner at Hyperplane Venture Capital and a former management committee member of the State Street is bullish on the fintech ecosystem of Boston. He believes that the city has the right ingredients to succeed in fintech. He outlines five features that have helped to cement the city as a fintech hub including:
- Excellent universities generating lots of ideas, talent and technologies
- The elected officials in Boston support immigration, entrepreneurship and everything needed to keep talent in place
- The city is home to large financial institutions such as banks, hedge funds, money managers, insurance companies
- Availability of start-ups and incubators
- Availability of capital
Universities in Boston such as MIT are providing finances to young fntech start-ups. The Martin Trust Centre for MIT entrepreneurship recently launched its MIT Delta v programme and has started offering students an opportunity to travel to New York City if their business falls within the fintech category.
There is a considerable number of fintech companies operating in Boston. One of these is Quantopian whose aim is to inspire talented individuals across the world to write investment algorithms. The city is also home to Toast, Flywire, and LearnLux, just to mention a few.
In the first quarter of 2017, a Cambridge startup successfully conducted a series B funding which came to be one of the top fintech deals in the U.S during that quarter. During the same period, Kensho raised $50 million with Wall Street Giants, JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America and Goldman Sachs participating. According to Nelson, these rounds raise the profile of Boston with the effect of attracting more fintech entrepreneurs.
The future of fintech in Boston
Klinck believes that the next big thing in Boston fintech is going to be the application of artificial intelligence and machine learning with the effect of changing the entire financial services sector. On his part, Nelson believes that in the next few years, M&A is going to pick up, and one of the more established fintech startup in Boston will be getting to the $500 million plus threshold.