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NY Fintech Week 2023: A networking soiree with opportunistic hope

While some attendees remarked that NY Fintech Week felt smaller than years prior, attendees have not lost faith in fintech’s disruptive power amid traditional bank uncertainty.

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Empire Startups/NYC Fintech Week 2023.

While traditional bank uncertainty loomed large, the fintech community flocked to New York last week for dialogue around the future of finance and networking events, some even with a morning side of 8 AM yoga.

Featuring panels on the future of fintech post-SVB collapse and innovating through crises, the concern, and perhaps the need to plan for the worst, could be felt just by looking at the agenda. 

Julian Fainzaig, an investor at Alpha Partners, an early-stage VC firm, said that this year felt slightly smaller than previous years. It felt as if the tourists, or those only vaguely interested in fintech, have faded out alongside the harshening market conditions, the investor remarked, leaving only those truly immersed in the space behind.

But, as another attendee pointed out, that could also be due to the fact that some consider the “real NYC fintech week” to be later this month when the Fintech Nexus conference takes place at the monstrous Javits Center. Others seemed to have missed last week altogether, opting instead for Consensus, CoinDesk’s event in Austin, Texas.

“NYC Fintech Week could very much be said to be in two weeks, at Fintech Nexus,” one attendee told AltFi, remarking that they actually don’t even know where the official NYC Fintech Week conference venue was and had only attended networking events.

While numbers may have been slimmer than in years past, Philip Kelvin, co-founder and CEO of Tranch and a speaker at one of the NY Fintech Week events, said this could mean the space is actually ripe with opportunity for those still building and working in fintech as traditional finance faces a reckoning.

But, for fintechs whose goal is to partner with banks, the going might get a little tough.

“Banks are distracted by making their assets and liabilities match, so while they may say oh, great, let’s talk about this technology rollout, we also could go bust in 5 weeks,” making partnerships challenging, Kelvin told AltFi.

And, last week’s fintech events may have been the best arena to start bouncing ideas off a group of like-minded peers as attendees told AltFi they view the week more as a close-knit networking soiree, mixed in with Las Vegas pool games and early morning yoga, compared to Fintech Nexus’ sprawling booths and seemingly endless panels.

The only investor caveat to any grand plans that may have been cooked up is that there may be an imbalance of those seeking funding to those opening their wallets, Fainzaig told AltFi

“I think there were more people trying to sell stuff than investors actually trying to buy, that's also now a sign of the times,” he said. While that might be troubling to the startups, Fainzaig said being an investor, working at a slower speed than 2020 or 2021, has been a relief as due diligence and doing it properly has become paramount.

Kelvin and many panelists' opportunistic outlook on the world post-SVB collapse seemed to be shared by others who across conversations with AltFi said closer to the end of the year, fundraising announcements will start to re-emerge. In the meantime, investors just want to do the proper vetting first, even if they’re already eyeing the upturn.

As NY Fintech Week wrapped and even more attendees look towards Fintech Nexus in a few weeks’ time, the April conference seemed like a team practice before the championship game, or the big stages in event terms. And, as fintechs from lending to crypto face economic and regulator hurdles, those who networked their way through last week may be glad they attended the pre-training.

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Philip Kelvin

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