The glazed facade of the Pollux tower glows in the winter sunlight. Here, close to the city's exhibition grounds, Frankfurt is all about business and the fast pace of passers-by fits in well with the atmosphere of excitement and creativity that has been bubbling away inside the building since the TechQuartier arrived.
Everything is in motion, not just in the European financial market, but also in the universities and business incubators. Fintechs (the word is a portmanteau of finance and technology – digitalisation incarnate, in other words) are now often the source of solutions for the new challenges facing the sector. From smartphone-based payment systems to social trading, the products of the fintechs' imagination are very much in demand, so much so in fact that they are conquering a customer segment previously occupied by the traditional financial institutions. Inspired not least by the discussions surrounding Brexit, the question now on everyone's lips in this field is: where will fintech innovation take place in future?
"Brexit may well lead to Frankfurt becoming more attractive for fintechs wishing to work primarily within the euro zone," suggests Dr. Gerhard Kebbel, who heads up Helaba's Digitalisation strategy project. The combination of essential structures and the right timing is instrumental to the success of the centre. Andreas Hackethal, Professor of Finance at the House of Finance, Goethe University Frankfurt, and one of Dr. Kebbel's fellow mentors at the TechQuartier, confirms the advantageous time window: "There are clear trends in favour of Frankfurt. The ecosystem provided by the TechQuartier is ideal: it has just the blend of sponsors like Helaba that operate in the region and investors from further afield that it needs in order to attract exciting fintechs." Managing Director Dr. Sebastian Schäfer also speaks from experience with his conclusion that, "The TechQuartier was overdue." Dr. Schäfer, a lecturer, partner in young companies and juror in start-up and innovation competitions, has been promoting the Frankfurt region as a hub for innovative new businesses for many years.