After the size of the fintech sector, measured by the number of active Swiss fintech companies, has increased year after year in the past, 2021 records a decline for the first time. As of the end of 2021, Switzerland was home to 384 fintech companies, 21 fewer than in the previous year (minus 5.2%). On the other hand, positive trends can be seen with regard to the business models of fintechs: The median number of employees as well as the median total of financing increased last year. These key figures stagnated or even declined last year. In addition, venture capital activity in the Swiss fintech sector reached a new record level in 2021, both in terms of the number of financing rounds and the total volume of CHF 446 million.

Fintechs are dedicating themselves to the potential of data

The majority of Swiss fintechs remains active in the areas of investment management (39%) and banking infrastructure (32%). While technology offerings such as Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) are decreasing, analytics, artificial intelligence or big data are gaining traction. This trend is likely to increase, in part because the potential of data use in the financial sector is increasingly recognized but not yet fully tapped. "Traditional institutions sometimes lack the corresponding resources and skills," says Thomas Ankenbrand, lecturer at the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts and project manager of the study. Fintech companies are therefore likely to continue to act as suppliers of corresponding services in the future.

Great potential for open financial ecosystems, especially in wealth management

A survey of CIOs from financial institutions and fintechs (CIO Barometer) also confirms the potential of open finance as a future business model. Although only just under half of the participants rate this potential as "currently" high or very high, the figure for 2026 is over 85%. "Especially in the area of wealth management, Open Finance offers good opportunities for success," says Ankenbrand. The reasons for this, he says, are the global market size, the Swiss market share and the need to maintain the pioneering role of the Swiss financial center.

Interestingly, both financial institutions and fintechs cite a lack of API standardization (both 55%) and the integration of APIs into the core banking system (financial institutions: 47%, fintechs: 45%) as key hurdles to the implementation of open finance in wealth management. Fintechs only give higher weighting to financial institutions' legacy systems, while the financial institutions themselves additionally cite high expenses and the loss of customers. In order to realize the potential of OpenWealth, a broad adaptation of common standards is necessary, which financial institutions and fintechs are currently struggling with, even though corresponding initiatives and scalable platforms already exist and are in operation in Switzerland, according to Ankenbrand.

As a sponsor SIX is happy to provide you with free access to the "IFZ Fintech Study 2022" to find out more about the current state of the Swiss fintech sector.