FinTech Could Be the Core NYC Needs to Differentiate Its Startup Scene

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building something that will last can be a challenge. “If you want to be successful in fintech, you need expertise and not just technical expertise,” Bhattacharya says. Knowledge of compliance and regulatory rules, as well as relationships with banks and other institutions, may be necessary.

Growth at fintech companies can also be slower, he says, because of the time it takes to build trust. “Even after several years of being in the market, we get some folks who ask if we are going to be around,” Bhattacharya says. “You just can’t throw money into the fintech pot and expect to get a hit out in 36 months.”

Nevertheless he sees the pool of established, talented financial services professionals now looking to startups for new opportunities as a sign of maturity for the local fintech scene, he says.

Eager for different forms of finance, the public and the government also became more open to innovation in the financial world after the economic crisis, says David Klein, CEO of student lending platform CommonBond.

The macroeconomic environment has since improved, he says, which allowed more fintech players to emerge, especially in marketplace lending. Developing such ideas in New York makes sense, he says, because of the concentration of elements here. That led CommonBond to being founded in the city. “New York is still the center of capital around the world,” he says.

CommonBond has been running for more than two and half years, Klein says, and is growing quickly. “We’ve doubled our team in the last four months and will double again by the end of the year,” he says. The company currently has a staff of about 30.

The startups that make it into the first class of the Barclays Accelerator in New York will have a lot of resources at their disposal, Fielding says, but they should be prepared for hard work. Mentors for the accelerator will come from the fintech and financial services world, naturally.

Barclays will also offer access to some of its executives, data, and APIs—as well as the potential for pilots with the startups. Creating cool ideas will not be enough, Fielding says, to impress established institutions or navigate the sometimes tricky financial world.

“This isn’t like throwing up a mobile app for chat,” she says. “If you’re going after these markets and these types of organizations, you need a thick skin.”

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