Fintech at Vienna UP’21: A Tale of Virtual Coins and Unicorns

Austria's fintech sector has recorded exponential growth in the last five years, with new startups seemingly popping up every month. These fresh and innovative companies are rapidly becoming an integral part of the financial system

  • Austria is an increasingly major player in the industry, boasting its first fintech unicorn.
  • New research investigates ways that blockchain technology can drive social and economic change.
  • At Vienna UP’21, global fintech players will discuss the status quo and new developments.

Digital technologies have been a relevant topic for Austrian financial companies for quite some time, with 63% of them stating that fintech is an essential part of their business model. While most see the emergence of these new technologies as a great tool and incentive to innovate, others think that fintech will inevitably take over the traditional finance world. One thing is for certain, these groundbreaking enterprises are shaking up the system and spurring innovation – and the trend shows no signs of slowing.

Fintech Trends in Austria

Vienna UP’21 Fintech
The past several years have brought forth a number of innovative payment methods that are both safe and convenient

The finance market is indisputably in the process of a digital transformation. As one of the world’s smartest cities, Vienna also fosters innovation in the finance sector. In fact, five of Austria’s ten top-ranked startups are fintechs and the number of companies in this promising sphere keeps growing. While the focus of the past few years has been on convenient payment solutions that uphold the highest safety standards – such as Paysafecard, which allows customers to make safe, prepaid online payments without the involvement of a bank or a credit card company – the future is pointing to different trends and opportunities.

The industry’s number one buzzword will continue to play a key role in the future of fintech: blockchain. Researchers at WU Wien’s Institute of Cryptoeconomics are currently investigating how the digital ledger system can be used to cope with social and ecological challenges. To further promote developments in blockchain technology, the Austrian Research Promotion Agency (FFG)’s COMET program funds the Austrian Blockchain Center (ABC), an interdisciplinary research institute based in Vienna. Aside from the blockchain, the use of artificial intelligence will also be a vital component of fintech innovation. The Viennese startup Finmatics already offers AI-based solutions for financial and accounting processes, helping companies automate their bookkeeping tactics.

With fintech achievements entering the mainstream, big banks are forced to innovate as well. Back in 2017, the Bawag Group (one of Austria’s main retail banks) already teamed up with baningo.com to help their users find a well-suited banking advisor in their area. As Vienna’s fintech scene continues to grow and prosper, we can expect more collaboration efforts between fintech startups and established banks in the years to come.

Austria’s First Fintech Unicorn

Vienna UP’21 Fintech
Formerly a space exclusive to industry insiders, cryptocurrencies are becoming more and more accessible to everyone

Only 4 months into the year, 2021 has already been a record-breaking year for Austrian startups. The first quarter brought in more money in investments than the entirety of 2020. Virtual currencies like Bitcoin and the blockchain software on which they are traded are becoming increasingly commonplace as companies race to adopt crypto into their portfolios. A prime example of this trend is the Vienna-based startup, Bitpanda. The investment platform reached unicorn status earlier this year at a valuation of $1.2 billion, received €142 million in equity capital. The company was founded in 2014 with just a handful of employees and now counts more than 2 million users across Europe.

Bitpanda has since become a way for people to safely and easily invest in cryptocurrencies, precious metals, and digital assets, while steadily growing its product offering and customer base. “Our vision is to make the financial world accessible to everyone,” says Eric Demuth, CEO and co-founder of Bitpanda, of their decision to add 24/7 fractional stock trading to their platform. “This gives users a chance to invest in international stocks for as little as €1. Until now, this sector has been too complex for the average person to maneuver, and we’re in the process of changing that.”

Join Vienna’s Fintech Innovators at Vienna UP’21

Vienna UP’21 Creative Industries
Dive into Vienna’s vibrant startup scene at Vienna UP’21

At Vienna UP’21, which kicks off today, Austria’s fintech sector is poised to shine. Over the next two weeks, technology enthusiasts can dive into the fascinating world of cryptocurrencies and the digitalization of the finance world. Check out the program and make a note of our picks below for the best fintech happenings at this year’s all-digital version of the mega-event for startups, investors and talents across different industries, curated by the Vienna Business Agency.

4Gamechangers Festival “4Pioneers”

4Gamechangers has a full year of event highlights up its sleeve, starting with this four-day TV special which will be broadcast on Puls24 and online from April 27-30, 2021. The wide range of topics includes sustainability, the power of cooperation, and the shared path to a better future.

Fintech Week Vienna

This event organized by Fintech Week Vienna aims to bridge the divide between fintech startups and the worlds of incumbent banking and compliant regulation. The organizers will also provide a glimpse into the developments that have shaped the fintech ecosystem in Austria in 2021. Join them on May 3, 2021, for a day of high-caliber panels, insightful presentations, and compelling keynotes.

B2B Software Days ’21

The sixth iteration of the biggest B2B event for software and digital business in Europe, organized by the Vienna Business Agency, is returning this year on May 12. Join 2,000 other participants for fascinating keynotes from Ericsson, SAAB, LinkedIn, Amazon, IEEE, the City of Vienna and many more and pitch your start-up idea in front of 50 international investors.

Want to dive deeper into the world of Vienna’s startup scene? Check out our articles  “Where Art Meets Business” and “Innovation That Saves Lives” to find out about local creative industries and the biotech and medtech sectors at Vienna UP’21.

This article is part of a cooperation with the Vienna Business Agency

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Bogdan Brkić
Originally from southern Serbia, he moved to Vienna in 2013 to study German Philology. He is an aspiring journalist whose passions include history, music and French pastries.

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