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Could France Become Europe’s Innovation Hub?

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June 14, 2017

The French voted Emmanuel Macron for president earlier in May. The young and progressive Macron managed to excite the French and not least the financial sector. Macron’s background in finance and his passion for technology has led many to believe big things are about to happen in France’s fintech sector. Could the country become Europe’s innovation hub, especially as Britain begins to negotiate its way out of the EU?

 

Macron’s pledge to the fintech sector

 

Macron’s political movement and party En Marche! might be new to politics but the man is no stranger to serving in the government. The former economy minister under President Francois Hollande has been driving his progressive agenda more or less aggressively in the past. During his reign as the economy minister, Macron made several initiatives to help the fintech sector. He implemented banking mobility and co-regulation based on the British sandbox model and he initiated European convergences in France.

 

As soon as the election was over, Macron set out to innovate and invigorate the French economy. According to the Financial Times, Macron is keen on luring business out of London and into Paris. The newspaper pointed out the “stick-and-carrot approach” aimed at moving securities and derivatives clearing to Paris.

 

Overall, Macron wants to reduce red tape and introduce laws that will protect businesses as they venture into fintech – rather than stop them even trying. Some of Macron’s pledges include removing the Régime Social des Indepedants (RSI) and bring about a simpler corporate tax system.

 

Benoist Grossman, the managing partner of French private equity and investor in European SMEs Idinvest Partners, spoke about Macron’s potential for the French fintech sector in a recent Forbes interview. He said, “it’s the hope and positive sentiment that he brings which has made the most impact across business and entrepreneurial community, in France but also more widely across Europe.”

 

Experience to guide him through

 

Aside from having governmental experience, Macron has also worked for both the finance sector and technology companies. He worked for the investment bank Rothschild for four years and was part of the team that advised Atos during its plans to purchase Siemens’ IT unit. Therefore, the new president has experience on his side. But will it be enough?

 

At the time of his election, fintech CEOs in France were optimistic but also raised concerns. Among the issues raised were questions over his stance regarding capital gain taxation and taxation in general, especially in terms of investments in innovative startups and SMEs.

 

The environment in France and the rest of the European Union is hopeful. With Brexit talks starting soon, continental Europe wants another strong ally for Germany and France is certainly interested in benefiting the possible exodus in London’s fintech sector. Cédric Teissier, the co-founder and CEO of Finexkap, told Crowdfund Insider, ”My hope is that, at last, Fintech will be called upon to play a major role in sustaining the growth momentum created by the President’s change of paradigm”.

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