UBS offers fintech startups $300k in cash, acceleration

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Switzerland-based financial services firm UBS has launched its Future of Finance Challenge, an open competition for entrepreneurs and tech startups from around the world, offering winners cash prizes and acceleration worth over US$300,000.

Through the challenge, for which applications close on September 23, UBS said it is looking for innovative and potentially disruptive technological ideas and solutions that will support the transformation of the banking industry.

Participants will be divided into four regions, with a maximum of 15 participants per region shortlisted to attend Immersion Workshops in Singapore, London, New York or Zurich in November. Three winners from each region will then pitch at the global final in Zurich on December 10.

All finalists will receive more than 300 hours of dedicated coaching and mentoring from UBS experts and partners, while the top three global winners will receive cash prizes of US$50,000, US$20,000 and US$10,000 respectively. Nine runner-ups will take home US$5,000.

UBS said it was its aspiration to support the competition winners in their bid to commercialise and scale their ideas and technologies by leveraging on its global presence, expertise in global banking and ecosystem of innovation partners.

The company said as the financial industry faces disruption and rapid technological change, it is looking for solutions to challenges for banks going forward, such as delivering the ultimate client experience, offering superior products, building an efficient operating model and ensuring security in banking.

“Financial services companies must have a desire to understand how technology can help them adapt to changing economic forces and new client and employee behaviours. We aim to support the pioneers who are transforming our industry and work with them to provide even better services to our clients. I strongly encourage every ambitious fintech startup to enter this exciting challenge,” said Sergio Ermotti, UBS group chief executive officer (CEO).

Digital disruption is driving an unprecedented transformation of our industry and radical new technologies present a unique opportunity for a step-change to our client offerings. Fostering an open and collaborative ecosystem between banks, technology firms and startups is critical to drive new innovation forward. I am very excited to be supporting the participants in this competition,” said Oliver Bussmann, group chief information officer (CIO).

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Passionate about the vibrant tech startups scene in Africa, Tom can usually be found sniffing out the continent's most exciting new companies and entrepreneurs, funding rounds and any other developments within the growing ecosystem.

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