3 questions to smart minds
Photo: Frank Seehaus

Trends in FinTech and Future of work

For this 3 questions to Frank Seehaus

ACTON Capi­tal in Munich
Photo: Frank Seehaus
10. July 2019

Things remain exci­ting in the FinTech world. Not only the tradi­tio­nal banking indus­try fears the entry of GAFA (Google, Apple, Face­book, Amazon) into the finan­cial world, but also small to medium-sized FinTechs that have alre­ady estab­lished a stan­ding in your busi­ness field. A number of FinTechs come from Europe. Deve­lo­p­ments are rapid, and the first conso­li­da­ti­ons in the payment solu­ti­ons sector in the USA are alre­ady under­way. — Future of work is emer­ging as a new invest­ment sector. How do you find specia­lists or bring toge­ther the best IT free­lan­cers for chal­len­ging projects?

For this 3 ques­ti­ons to Frank Seehaus, Part­ner at ACTON Capi­tal in Munich

1. How is the fintech sector deve­lo­ping in Europe and Germany?

Over the past year, Europe has shown remar­kable momen­tum in the fintech sector. For exam­ple, the volume of all invest­ment and M&A tran­sac­tions tripled year-on-year to over $34 billion. The USA still leads with 54 billion, but the gap is shrin­king. In the FinTech space in parti­cu­lar, the most exci­ting disrup­t­ors come from Europe — accoun­ting for 6 of the top10 Fintech deals world­wide last year. German fintechs have also raised nota­ble rounds of funding, Raisin with over $110 million and N26 with $160 million, admit­tedly still a long way from Oakn­orth ’s $440 million in the UK. At the same time, the number of new start­ups in the sector is falling and conso­li­da­tion is incre­asing. This will inten­sify in the future — inves­tors will become more selec­tive and provide ever larger volu­mes of finan­cing to scale successful businesses.

2. What is the next emer­ging trend in this country?

We invest extre­mely selec­tively with a focus on sustaina­bi­lity. The rele­vant ques­tion for us is ther­e­fore not about the current trend, but which compa­nies will still be successful on the market in five or ten years. This requi­res trans­la­ting new tech­no­lo­gies into supe­rior custo­mer bene­fits and a resi­li­ent busi­ness model. In the fintech sector, we see a sustained trend toward open banking and plat­form banking.

If you are a bank or non-bank with a large number of custo­mers, you can bundle the most suita­ble finan­cial products and services for them flexi­bly and dyna­mi­cally. This is done tech­ni­cally via open inter­faces, APIs, or directly via speci­fic market­places. Credit specia­lists such as Iwoca can thus offer their finan­cing for small busi­nesses where the finan­cing need arises, i.e. on procu­re­ment plat­forms such as Alibaba or on accoun­ting services such as Xero. Provi­ders like Mambu provide the neces­sary tech­no­logy as soft­ware-as-a-service, without large upfront invest­ments and with short time-to-market. The bund­ling of finan­cial services with other services, such as mobi­lity, will also increase. Cluno, i.e. the flexi­ble car subscrip­tion that can be cancel­led at any time, is a fintech company in this respect.

3. “Future of Work” has emer­ged as a new invest­ment sector. Acton Capital’s most recent invest­ment was Expert­lead. What do you mean by “Future of Work”?

Future of Work reflects the funda­men­tal change in the world of work, also to take account of the growing market dyna­mics. Moving away from fixed jobs with rigid acti­vi­ties in fixed orga­niza­ti­ons. Toward flexi­ble struc­tures with case-by-case, project-based assign­ments of workers. In the old world, tran­sac­tion costs would be too high for this, but tech­no­logy has redu­ced them drama­ti­cally. Many employees, espe­ci­ally highly quali­fied ones, no longer want to commit them­sel­ves to a company and a job for the long term. Doing the same thing year in and year out from “nine-to-five” is out. What we are looking for are exci­ting projects that allow us to deve­lop perso­nally and work inde­pendently of time and space.

This is parti­cu­larly prono­un­ced in the IT sector. This is where Expert­lead deli­vers the solu­tion, admit­ting only the very best IT profes­sio­nals, after inten­sive intake and ongo­ing reviews. Thus, it is a distinc­tion for the best IT profes­sio­nals to be admit­ted on Expert­lead, and at the same time a guaran­tee to receive only the most exci­ting projects. This gives compa­nies access to a talent pool that would other­wise be closed to them — who knows the best people world­wide for a complex project and can also assess their quali­fi­ca­ti­ons them­sel­ves? In this case, the plat­form takes care of that, as well as the cost- and time-inten­sive search, coor­di­na­tion and admi­nis­tra­tion, in other words, what nobody likes to do. — We will certainly see this approach in other func­tions and industries.

About Frank Seehaus

No comple­xity is too high for Frank Seehaus, espe­ci­ally when it comes to pene­t­ra­ting and ques­tio­ning a company’s func­tion­a­li­ties, proces­ses and figu­res. Not only the port­fo­lio compa­nies he mana­ges bene­fit from this precis­ion, complex tran­sac­tions are also in good hands with him. Hiking in moun­tain air shar­pens the senses. Among others, he led the successful exits of Elite Part­ner, Holi­day Check, OnVista and Zooplus.

Stati­ons: Deut­sche Bank, Burda Digi­tal Ventures

ACTON port­fo­lio: Game­Du­ell (D), BS24 (D), Home­ToGo (D), IWOCA (UK), Finanz­check (D)

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