The Swiss Finance and Technology Association’s president Philip Weights told finews.com what was needed to convince the organization’s previous board to return. He also announced which cities will join Zurich, Lausanne and Geneva in the association’s network.
It is understandable that getting the strategy right has been of utmost importance for Philip Weights, on becoming the president of the Swiss Finance and Technology Association (SFTA). It was after all a dispute about the organization’s strategy that caused the entire board to walk out a few years ago, leaving the president at the time on his own, as finews.com reported.
Central to the fallout in 2018 were differing views on its commercial involvement. Now, however, its non-profit status is clearly enshrined in its new approach and the organization’s activities are supported exclusively by fees stemming from its 250 members.
In addition to this, it refuses large donations from any single sponsor and emphasizes collaboration. Partners include Swiss universities, where it has appointed ambassadors to scout for interns, as well as embassies and educational institutions.
“We have no commercial interest in our members. We want to support them and be part of their journey from early-stage startups,” Weights said in an interview with finews.com. Given that most of the previous directors have returned, the strategy seems to be in line with what is expected of the industry association. And luckily, there are enough Swiss startups in need of their support.
Recent studies show that over 80 percent of startup technology companies spun off from Swiss universities can grow and eventually succeed, which is largely due to their ability to secure funding early on, Weights said.
By contrast, their counterparts elsewhere often face an 80 percent average failure rate. “Even if the ideas are good, funding is the lifeblood of any early-stage startup,” Weights added.
Although funding for Swiss fintech came under pressure last year, now, with the current boom in artificial intelligence (AI), there seems to be plenty of it available for companies focused on, or pivoting towards, AI and other emerging technologies.
Beyond the topics of artificial intelligence, portfolio management, blockchain, crypto, and crossborder payments, members in the organization are increasingly clustered around areas such as Web3, finance and longevity, Metaverse financing, and financial literacy.
The association has appointed dedicated team heads from its board of directors to provide support and guidance in these areas.
For crypto-related and blockchain fintechs, the association is adding Zug to its locations. Activities there will be led by University of Lucerne Blockchain Technology external course lecturer Philipp E. Dettwiler (image above), after the inauguration in CV Labs’s Liquid Lounge on August 17.
A Ticino chapter based in Lugano is also in the works as the city has shown itself keen to promote digital transformation and innovation with its own Plan B project and collaboration with crypto company Tether.
Another objective is to encourage female fintech founders at universities and throughout the organization. Role models, such as the independent fintech advisor and podcaster Efi Pylarinou and Metaverse Academy dean Martha Boeckenfeld have helped serve this purpose, alongside the association’s own deputy president and Swiss head of digital player Iteo, Agata Marty.
The SFTA is run by around 40 volunteers and has over 250 members consisting of students, individuals, startup founders, investors, and corporates, which it brings together at regular events. Some events are co-hosted with partners, which include several embassies in Bern. Many SFTA members have also registered with the competitor industry association «Swiss Fintech.» Both associations were founded in 2014.