The Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication’s (SWIFT) will convene policy makers, industry leaders and the broader financial community across Africa in its African Regional Conference (ARC) 2015 from 5-7 May 2015 in Cape Town, South Africa.

ARC will for the first time partner with Innotribe, SWIFT’s financial technology innovation initiative, to bring Innotribe’s fintech Startup Challenge to Africa.

The Startup Challenge introduces the world’s brightest startups to highly qualified financial service experts, angel investors, venture capitalists, and global leading fintech and financial decision makers. In the 2015 Challenge, SWIFT Innotribe will have a round dedicated to fintech companies from across the African continent. These will come to Cape Town in order to pitch to investors.

“ARC is already a unique event for the financial industry, creating a collaborative space where participants can gather to share experiences and look for solutions to common challenges. Bringing the Innotribe Startup Challenge to the African community is an exciting step, meaning SWIFT Innotribe can help to support and nurture the new technologies that are going to play a big role in the future of the financial industry across the continent,” said Christian Sarafidis, Head of Western Europe, Middle East & Africa.

Since its inception in 2011, the Innotribe Startup Challenge has grown in popularity and success, with over 280 startups applying to the competition in 2014 – this is a 100 more than in 2013. The challenge will also hold in London in April 2015, Singapore in May and New York in June.

Innotribe will work in close collaboration with Finextra in London, Next Bank Asia in Singapore, and the Bank Innovators Council in New York, and will partner with SWIFT’s African Regional Conference (ARC) in Cape Town, bringing the Innotribe Startup Challenge to another vibrant startup scene.

“Every year the bar gets higher with many impressive applications from startups coming from across the globe. It is great to see this community using Innotribe as a platform of choice, and allows us to provide them with even greater opportunities to connect with the financial industry,”  says Fabian Vandenreydt, Head of Markets Management, Innotribe, and the SWIFT Institute.

He expressed eagerness to see what the 2015 applicants have to offer. Innotribe, according to Vandenreydt is also looking forward to giving the startups exposure to financial institutions, which they really need.

Similar to 2014, over 500 industry experts, bank decision-makers, venture capitalists and angel investors, will judge the companies applying to the Startup Challenge, ensuring that the semi-finalists selected are addressing current industry issues.

These semi-finalists – 15 companies per regional showcase – get the opportunity to showcase their new concepts and products in front of an audience looking for the best in class and voting for the top 5 companies at the end of each showcase.

The 20 companies selected automatically secure their place as finalists in the Innotribe Startup Challenge Grand Finale, taking place at Sibos, the world’s premier financial services event organised by SWIFT.

ARC, now in its 22nd year, is a unique forum for networking, education, discussion and debate. It attracts up to 500 delegates from around 40 countries.

Applications to the 2015 Startup Challenge are now open until mid-February 2015.

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