FinTech Challenge: finances, digital wave and Mintos

The very first Rietumu FinTech Challenge by TechHub Academy has finished, boosting the development of finance technologies in the region � 7 startups received a one-day business mentoring, met bank and entrepreneurship professionals and pitched their ideas to judges. In the end, Mintos won the title of the best startup in the contest and walked away with the 5000� prize money, awarded by the main partner Rietumu Bank.

�When we decided to organize the Rietumu FinTech contest, we took the growing interest in finance technologies and their use in our daily life into account,� Egita Polanska, the Co-ordinator of the contest, notes. �We wanted to understand what ideas lived in the region, what background they had and what resources we could offer to make those ideas even greater. All selected startups prove that we have a pool of talent � FinTech was the first step, now we need to go further!�

Thus, the contest was more than just a business mentoring program � it showed the finance tendencies we need to be aware of. 16 startups applied to the contest, and 7 teams from Latvia, Estonia, Belarus and Poland were selected to the final day on April 28th: WealthArc, Swipe, Zen Fin Tech, Mintos, Wizard.Finance, Monea and BePaid (EComCharge). The range of ideas covered payment applications, lending platforms and digital solutions to improve the asset management or accounting.

In the final pitch the teams presented their businesses to judges and fought for the 5000� prize from Rietumu Bank, the main partner of the contest. In stiff discussions the judges announced Mintos, a P2P lending marketplace of asset-backed loans that brings together consumers seeking affordable loans and investors looking for solid returns, as the winner. �We see that the Latvian fintech industry has a good potential [to conquer global markets]! All projects were well-prepared, and as a bank we hope to collaborate with these startups in the future,� Renat Lokomet, the Board Member of Rietumu Bank, says. �At the base of the Mintos� win is their team, actual business idea and a chance to go big. This is what we wish to them!�

�In this time there is nothing that can stop entrepreneurs creating quality products from small countries, such as Estonia or Latvia, and events like Rietumu FinTech bring all fintech people together, let them see what happens in the field and give some inspiration to move forward,� Martins Sulte, CEO at Mintos, shares his contest experience. �We are happy for the support and acknowledgement but we understand we�re just at the beginning of our journey. In a longer period of time I suppose we will see a huge transformation in the banking sector in general, not only in P2P lending, but also in payment solutions, asset management and insurance � we want to be among those who build the changes both in Latvia and beyond.�

�Fintech is exploding everywhere, especially in Europe, and becomes an important part of the progression of the digital wave,� Roy Vella, one of the mentors and Managing Director at Vella Ventures Ltd., comments at the end of the contest. �Plus, the fact that banks are lagging behind and don�t innovate fast enough lets new players come in, offer new innovative solutions and [make fintech even challenging and interesting]. Among other mentors and judges were Aigars Macins (Microsoft), Karlis Andersons (Eegloo business lab), Jevgenijs Djugajevs (Rietumu Banka), Viesturs Sosars (Real Sound Lab), Jevgenijs Kazanins (Bondora), Renat Lokomet (Rietumu Banka), Maris Dagis (Sellfy), Brandon Murphy (Rietumu Banka) and Normunds Bergs (SAF tehnika).

Rietumu FinTech Challenge by TechHub Academy was organized by the foundation TechHub Riga, the first and leading IT and tech startup co-working space that daily accommodates more than 30 startups and organizes various tech and startup related events, such as Monthly Meetups, TechChill Baltics conference and TechHub Startup Academy.

Rietumu is the leading private bank in Latvia, specialising in corporate banking and wealth management. Rietumu Bank provides a complete spectrum of modern financial services, including the organisation of businesses of clients in the internet environment. It is the organiser of the biggest international conference in e-commerce in the region, eCom21.

The contest was also supported by Microsoft, LatBAN, Labs of Latvia and Latvian Guarantee Agency (the project of �Support for startup education and workshop organization�). Informative partners: kursors.lv and skaties.lv.