LFP245 – Fintech in France w/Louis Carbonnier Co-Founder Hokodo

As always there is a fascinating phenomenon when the globalised world of tech meets the localised worlds of custom, people, rules and regulations. As recently as LFP243 we dived in to the world of tech as a whole in Berlin and today we dive into Fintech in France. Needless to say France is a massive market, well banked and a real venue for Fintech. That having been said there are, as always, some downsides. In this episode we have a fascinating historical, philosophical and very practical conversation about the nature of Fintech in France.

Louis is well-placed to discuss these matters being not only a co-founder of Hokodo which is based in Paris and has more than 100 staff, most of whom are in London.

Furthermore he is very multicultural in a European sense having been brought up as first a German speaker in Champagne and then Strasbourg in Alsace which looks both east and west, not least of which as it has been part of Germany and of France at varying times. He moved from there to Paris and describes the Paris-isation of French students and the de-regionalisation process they go through. Furthermore he has worked in Switzerland – also rather Franco-German as well as the UK. Thus who better to lay out the pros and cons of Fintech in France?

Topics discussed include:

  • regional accents and dialects and the trend over time to create one language at the expense of the regional variants
  • comparisons with life in Switzerland and regionalism in the dialects
  • anecdote of going to a Parisian university
  • Louis’ career journey starting in London through Australia and Asia
  • the early genesis of the move into Fintech and founding of Hokodo
  • Hokodo is headquartered in the UK despite two of the co-founders being bases in Paris
  • the genesis of Fintech in France
  • the nature of the competitive context in France re existing banks
  • the nature of the French regulatory environment
  • when Big Banks got into innovation
  • regulation and innovation in business lending in France compared to the UK or the Netherlands
  • cost of innovation compared to regulatory climate and the resultant levels of innovation
  • Eurosceloris as, inter alia, being driven by mass regulation favouring incumbents and protecting them from competition
  • John Law and the background to French attitudes to banking, finance and money
  • the split of Catholic attitudes to money and Protestant attitudes
  • the form between common law and the Napoleonic code
  • how the latter started off as A Good Thing but just gets bigger and bigger
  • Case Study of Labour Law – ~4,000pp in France ~200pp in Switzerland
  • the challenge for founders and even their advisers in simple matters like calculating the number of holidays for employees
  • even the accountants get this wrong!
  • the degree of centralisation of Fintech in Paris
  • the impact of c19 on this centralisation trend
  • French history as collapse and rebuild
  • “France does revolutions but England does Evolutions”
  • the good news about being in Paris
  • strong move in France to digitisation
  • the main advantage of being based in France
  • leading in marketplaces along with Germany and the UK falling behind
  • Trade Finance in Europe and France
  • the ecosystem and State approach
  • VC and PE investment trends in France
  • a government body invests in 1 funding round out of 5!
  • comparison with the formation of the East India companies
  • French tech talent market
  • attracting top talent as a startup/scaleup
  • shoutouts for Hokodo’s core business products/services
  • an explanation of the many layers of reference contained within the Hokodo name
  • the B2B trade market and changes taking place
  • Hokodo’s international expansion plans

And much much more 🙂

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