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SPOTLIGHT ASIA: Societe Generale Eyes Transformation Success With Incubator Launch

French multinational investment bank Societe Generale is helping fintechs specialised in financial markets turn their ideas into innovative services. Here Jerome Niddam, Head of Global Markets for Asia Pacific at Societe Generale, explains why it has high hopes of extending the European success of its Global Markets Incubator to Asia Pacific.

In 2018, Societe Generale unveiled the Global Markets Incubator, an open framework dedicated to fintech companies specialising in market activities. Over the past two years, 12 fintechs have taken part, including Wematch.live, ICA and Raise Partner, benefiting from Societe Generale’s expertise in capital markets.

The bank has now opened the doors to its first incubator in Asia Pacific, with applications open until 15 November 2020.

Based in Hong Kong, Jerome Niddam is responsible for driving and overseeing the global market business of the bank in Asia Pacific. The Fintech Times asked Niddam to expand on why Asia Pacific is proving to be an area revered for its innovation and growth.

Jerome NiddamTFT: What are the key trends leading the development of the capital markets in Asia Pacific?

JN: “The key trends we are impressed and rather encouraged by are the increased access to domestic assets for foreign investors. In particular, China and India, two of the largest economies in the world have demonstrated extraordinary growth opportunities. Most recently, we have seen India increased foreign ownership limits on single stocks while China has been added to both global equity and bond benchmarks. And in Hong Kong, the recent relaxation of listing rules will enable the region’s fastest-growing companies to access valuable equity capitals.

TFT: Why did you launch the Global Markets Incubator in 2018?

JN: “Innovation is in the DNA of Societe Generale and is driving our strategy to be closer to our clients and better serve them with pioneering solutions tailored to their needs. It’s our commitment to accelerate digital transition in our traditional activities through innovation in order to deliver on our customers’ expectations. Over the years, at Societe Generale, we have cultivated an innovative spirit and have intensified our interaction with fintechs and startups with the aim of developing new strategic partnerships. We have also established a fund worth of €150million to support innovation initiatives by investing in internal and external startups. Targeting fintechs, the Global Markets Incubator adopts a pioneering approach to market activities and is perfectly aligned with our group’s ambition to nurture an open banking strategy, support our businesses’ transformation and create new commercial models.

Societe GeneraleTFT: Why have you chosen to launch the Global Market Incubator programme in Asia Pacific this year?

JN: “Asia Pacific has proven to be an area where innovation and growth are key characteristics in many areas. The region is at the forefront of this world in transformation, combining size, economic growth, financing and development needs. The business models of our clients are evolving while technology and innovation are encouraging forward-looking mindsets. As a leading bank and partner of choice, we will be able to adapt and respond to relevant emerging trends in the region leveraging the Global Market Incubator programme. Indeed, this first programme fully dedicated to market solutions will help us co-construct disruptive solutions for our client’s benefits, while contributing to making Asia Pacific a best-in-class marketplace for markets activities.

We target early-stage startups which challenge our industry or those complementary to it.

TFT: What should fintechs know about the market capability of Societe Generale?

JN: Within Societe Generale, one of the leading European financial services groups, our market activities are integrated into a cross-asset, multi-product platform focusing on delivering high quality investment, financing and risk management solutions to our institutional and corporate clients around the world. Our market activities are renowned for their industry leading structuring and innovation capabilities. The Incubator opens the doors of our trading floors: the selected startups will partner with the best experts in their industry who will help them build and scale a market proof business. In addition, they will benefit from a privileged relationship with Societe Generale and its global network to help them grow faster.

TFT: What are the requirements of a qualified applicant for the programme?

JN: All participants need to have an established company to join the programme and ideally should be in Asia Pacific to allow easier and more direct interaction between our market experts and the company during the incubation phase. We target early-stage startups which challenge our industry or those complementary to it. They should either: be exploring cutting-edge technologies which would aim at improving the usage of our internal data, augmenting sales, removing internal inefficiencies or improving client or internal connectivity, or have a product which would benefit from the strike force of Societe Generale.

TFT: Walk us through the incubation programme process.

JN: Selected applicants will be entitled to a six-month incubation period, gaining access to dedicated resources from Societe Generale to define and develop their proposed market solutions. Market experts from any of our various locations in Asia Pacific, including financial engineers, traders, sales, middle and back office teams, as well as data and proprietary platforms will allow early-stage entrepreneurs to benefit from the required ecosystem and resources to turn their start-up into a valuable business proposition.

Applications for the 2021 programme are open until 15 November; then a short-list will be selected for a final round of pitches with selected startups informed in January 2021.

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