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A Third of National Fintech Enterprises in Italy Experience “Digital Hunger”
09 January 2020 11:21, UTC
By Vsevolod Gnetii
The Italian FinTech ecosystem experienced delays, in comparison to the leading European
powers, but its acceleration has recently been highly noted due to growing competition, as well as
the involvement of new sectors, from utilities to car sellers. Only 12 industries offer structured
financial services in alliance with technology giants (Big Tech) and are preparing to enter the
European market with their offers.
The overall situation is presented in the report of the Supervisory Authority of FinTech and
InsurTech of the Polytechnic University of Milan (Osservatorio Fintech & Insurtech del Politecnico di Milano), mentioning specific opportunities for open finance. According to the data published in the report, 36% of Italian enterprises experience “digital hunger,” while 44% of firms operating in the FinTech industry require the creation of a “sandbox” where they can test their technologies.
In Italy, 326 startups operate in the field of FinTech and InsurTech with a turnover of 654 mln
euros, which is an average of 2.6 million euros per company. At the same time, 12.7 million Italians
aged 18 to 74 years, that is, almost every third Italian citizen, use digital services, primarily mobile
payments and a virtual chatbot for communication with banks.
Nevertheless, innovative products and services are still not popular with SMEs in Italy: 36%, that
is, every third enterprise, has never used them. The problem lies not only in the backwardness of enterprises, but in the lack of innovative products and services. According to experts, it is necessary to unify the system, relying on innovation in order to overcome the backwardness
coming from the past. At the same time, it is necessary to give a powerful impetus to the
development of the capital market to channel significant resources to startups.
To promote a digital innovation culture in financial services, Italian enterprises need a sandbox, a
secure platform where startups can conduct experiments regulated by laws applicable to the
banking, financial and insurance sectors. Such a training ground was created in June, but there is
still no law enforcement documentation regulating its activities.
The Italian Ministry of Economic Development launched a coordination meeting under its
patronage to expedite decisions on this issue by the competent authorities regarding the final draft
of the document, which will be submitted for public discussion. The basis is the English model,
which stipulates that an interested person, enterprise or organization, such as FinTech or a bank
developing digital onboarding systems, can request permission for experimental activity for 18
months, working in close contact with the regulatory authority. In turn, the authority could assess
risks and introduce restrictions on an individual basis for each specific case.
The peculiarity of Italy is that most FinTech enterprises are technological and do not need a
training ground, a secure site for their activities. At the same time, only a few traditional Italian
banks are active in conducting specific innovative digital activities, while most of them are expectant, passive, partly due to lack of funds, and partly due to the lack of a culture of innovation.
From this point of view, national hubs with a sandbox combined with professionalism, infrastructure
and capital can give a powerful and decisive impetus to the development of the FinTech industry in
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