October 6, 2023

Alberta Stories

Alberta’s fintech sandbox: where ideas come to life

Financial technology, or fintech, has emerged as one of the most transformative sectors in recent years. Companies are using that technology to provide innovative financial solutions to consumers and businesses alike. A sandbox refers to a “safe space” or testing environment where companies can test innovative products or services in a controlled and regulated environment, and Alberta’s fintech sandbox is nothing short of spectacular.  

With 4,700+ financial services firms, 65,000+ employees, and a 14.8 per cent GDP growth in financial services and insurance between 2016-2020, there is no doubt Alberta’s fintech sector is growing. A strong corporate presence, large concentration of individual wealth, and high deal velocity make Alberta an attractive destination for financial firms. 

Companies in Alberta are investing more than $1.5 billion in digital transformation for financial services from 2021 to 2024, with specializations ranging from blockchain, cryptocurrency, insurtech, paytech, capital markets and investments to wealthtech, software and more. 

As financial services are becoming more integrated into our everyday experience, there is room for industries and companies to understand the different models and benefits that can support growth. At the forefront of driving innovation in banking and financial services, events like the Milan Fintech Summit brings together leading experts in fintech and financial services to provide the expertise needed to boost education and stay at the cutting edge.

With a commitment to attracting international investments and facilitating growth between regions, Invest Alberta has already signed an MOU with Fintech District – the international community of reference for the Fintech ecosystem in Italy. With more than 250 companies in its network, the organization creates the best conditions so that all partners from startups to financial institutions to corporate companies and investors can work together to find opportunities for local and international growth. Fintech District also has relationships with other innovation hubs abroad to multiply investment and cooperation opportunities, amplifying its role as a gateway for the Italian market.

Invest Alberta’s Senior Investment Officer, Andrea Paniagua, meeting with Fintech District’s Deputy Head, Chiara Padua, for an MOU signing

The partnership between Fintech District and Invest Alberta marked the organization’s first step into North America. Alberta’s more manageable market size and low cost of doing business compared to American cities such as New York or San Francisco make the province a particularly attractive destination. Further, more than 75 per cent of the world’s top 20 global investment banks have a presence in Alberta.

“The partnership between Invest Alberta and Fintech District formalizes a collaborative partnership that prioritizes mutual growth that will revolutionize the international fintech community. Both Alberta and Italy are well-positioned to promote one another as strategic fintech destinations. As the first Canadian province to establish a regulatory sandbox for fintech companies, Alberta is providing global fintech businesses with the necessary tools to gain their footing in our province. Supported by our high concentration of capital and low cost of doing business, Alberta offers a safe space for forward-thinking Italian fintech companies to pilot innovative ideas and expand their influence.”  

– Rick Christiaanse, CEO Invest Alberta 

High profile companies are adding value to Alberta’s fintech sector – companies like Neo Financial, which was born right here in Alberta. The Calgary-based startup offers a digital banking experience, providing a customer-centric approach to banking. Neo has raised more than $100 million to date. 

In January 2022, EY announced it chose Alberta as the location for its Canadian Finance Centre of Excellence to provide innovative internal finance services, with the expectation of creating approximately 200 jobs over three years. 

“Calgary is turning heads as a hub for talent and finance. The centre will continue to fuel this evolution and is an important step in ensuring prosperity and future growth for the city, and positioning Alberta as a financial hot spot.” 

– Alison Jackson, Calgary Office Managing Partner, EY Canada 

Alberta’s development of innovative fintech products is not only evident through the creation of five fintech unicorns – Neo Financial, Shareworks, RS Energy Group (Enverus Intelligence Research Inc.), Parvus Therapeutics, and Benevity— but also in the ability to connect with the necessary capital for further growth. 

Invest Alberta and Fintech District’s partnership is an added piece to Alberta’s growing fintech sector. The province has an ideal environment for startups, financial institutions, and investors to collaborate, innovate, and create a viable ecosystem for the fintech sector. As the industry continues to grow, companies like those within Fintech District will play a crucial role in shaping Alberta’s future.

Learn more about Fintech District: https://www.fintechdistrict.com/  

Learn more about Neo Financial: https://www.neofinancial.com/  

Learn more about EY: https://www.ey.com/en_ca  

Learn more about Alberta’s Financial Services sector: https://investalberta.ca/financial-services/ 

 Learn more about the Milan Fintech Summit: https://www.milanfintechsummit.com/

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