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Archive for November, 2014

Has Paris FinTech scene finally kicked off?

Eiffel-Tower-Paris-France

This post was originally published on Medium.

Last week, not one but three Paris-based FinTech startups announced a fundraising: Finexkap completed a $22.5M fundraising to launch the first French on-line working capital financing platform, Lendix raised €7M to fuel the growth of their crowdlending platform for SMEs and Paytop received€3,3M from historical investor Truffle Capital (link in French) to scale its international payment card solution.

Until this year, I must admit that apart from first movers like Litchee(money pot collection) or KissKissBankBank (crowdfunding), the FinTech scene in Paris was almost nonexistent. According to an Accenture study, even less than 10 FinTech VC deals were done between 2004 and 2013. But it seems that 2014 is changing all that. Founded in March 2014, the Paris FinTech meetup now counts more than 350 members.

With this growing interest for FinTech, we’re seeing more and more startups popping up. The last time I counted, there were more than 50 startups just in Paris with my personal favorite being Marie Quantier andPayplug. On top of that, new regulations favorable to crowdfunding have opened the way to several crowdlending services like Lendopolis and Prêt d’Union.

Don’t open the champagne bottle just yet. Paris is still way behind London is terms of funding and valuation for FinTech startups, with the likes of TransferWise ($1B valuation) or FundingCircle (raised $65M earlier this year). And I’m not even talking about accelerator programs focused on FinTech like Startupbootcamp FinTech, Level39 and the Barclay’s accelerator (powered by Techstars).

Despite all that, it seems to me that the time is finally right for Paris to get into the race and host FinTech champions that could become as great as Criteo or Blablacar.

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Testing Narrative Clip

IMG_3184While attending the Web Summit last week, I stumbled upon the Narrative booth and got the opportunity to test for a couple of hours their wearable clip, a tiny, automatic camera and app that gives you a searchable and shareable photographic memory.

As you can see in the picture on the left, I clipped the camera to my jacket’s chest pocket and walked around the venue, visiting booths and talking to people.

Narrative – The pros

–> I already had seen the Narrative videos but until last week I couldn’t find any good use for it. Actually, going around a conference like the Web Summit, where you meet tens of people every day, makes it a very good use case. Finally a way to remember everyone you met!

–> The Narrative clip is definitely less dorky than Google Glasses :) No one noticed it or at least, if they did, they didn’t tell me anything or didn’t realize it was a camera.

–> The double tap feature allows you to take a picture when you want it (instead of the 30s standard pace). Very useful when you want to remember someone’s face or business card.

–> The Narrative back-end software is supposed to automatically delete blurry pictures and arrange the good ones in a timeline

Narrative – The cons

–> I was pretty disappointed Narrative clipby the photo quality… As you can see in the picture on the right, lots of chests and useless photos. Most of the others are blurry and not really useful.

–> Almost every time I told the person I was talking to that there was a device clipped on my jacket taking pictures of them, they reacted negatively. Getting shot by a camera without knowing it made them feel almost raped. Not really good…

–> The clip does not support bluetooth so you have to wait until you plug it on your computer to see the results

Conclusion?

While I was seduced by the Narrative concept and form factor, I was really disappointed by the photo quality and the lack of bluetooth. Moreover, the social impact is a big turn-off. Too bad because the promise is very interesting.

Ideally, I wished it could recognize someone in a crowd and make my phone buzz and open automatically the LinkedIn profile of the guy I’m talking to in case I don’t remember who he is. Maybe the next version?