Forward-looking Growth Initiatives
SIX fosters an active culture of innovation. With the establishment of SDX and as a strategic partner for start-ups and companies with innovative ideas, SIX is actively driving forward the transformation of financial markets and is securing its position in strategically important areas of growth.
Since it was established in 2018, the venture fund SIX Fintech Ventures has seen more than 1,600 start-ups go through its selection procedure. In the year under review, it invested in seven promising new fintech firms. This means that SIX is currently involved in a total of 11 start-ups in Switzerland, Belgium, the UK, and Singapore.
After opening a subsidiary in Singapore in 2019, the fintech innovation network F10, which is supported by SIX, also expanded into Spain in 2020. With centers planned in Madrid and Barcelona as well as activities in Bilbao and Valencia adding to existing operations in Zurich and Singapore, SIX will thus play a part in the fintech ecosystem in its new home market and strengthen it.
During the year under review, SIX continued to work purposefully on pushing forward with SIX Digital Exchange (SDX). By the end of 2020, the platform based on distributed ledger technology was largely ready to begin operations. It is now awaiting the formal go-ahead for operational start-up in the form of a financial market infrastructure (FMI) license to be granted by the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority FINMA. SIX hopes to receive its License to Operate (LOT) for SDX in the second quarter of 2021. Many of the prerequisites are already in place, such as the establishment of compliance, transaction, and risk monitoring.
SDX is ready for its official launch in 2021.
With SDX, SIX has underscored its ambition and position as a key player in the innovative ecosystem of digital assets, and it further established its presence in 2020 through collaborations and partnerships as well as by investing in Switzerland’s Custodigit. Along with the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) and the Swiss National Bank (SNB), SDX continued its work on the issuance and use of central bank digital currency. Both, SIX and the SNB conducted feasibility studies on two systems closely connected with actual operations: In the first, the existing payment system was successfully connected to a distributed ledger; in the second, a “central bank digital currency” for financial intermediaries (“wholesale CBDC”) was issued. Further work will now be coordinated with the SNB and the BIS.
SIX has been closely collaborating with the SNB on payment transactions for many years. With their Swiss Payments Vision, the partners have set themselves the goal of developing Swiss “payment transactions of the future” in order to provide a payments experience for consumers, (retail) merchants, and firms in Switzerland that stands comparison with the best in the world. The initiative, launched in 2019, is aimed at modernizing, simplifying and improving payment transactions in Switzerland in a concerted, fundamental, and sustainable way. This will strengthen the competitiveness of the entire Swiss financial center in the long term.
SIX is assuming the role of thought leader in payments. In its series of white papers entitled “Pictures of the Future,” SIX has identified relevant developments and evaluated potential future scenarios in “The Future of Billing” and “The Future of Brick-and-Mortar Commerce.” The white papers are available to download free of charge at six-group.com for all those that are interested.
SIX also achieved advances in its data business in the year under review. In the Financial Information business unit, the focus in recent years has been on consolidation of the infrastructure, improving processes and applications, and the efficient use of resources. In this way, SIX has considerably improved the profitability of this business unit. Now the emphasis is shifting to growth and a strengthened customer focus. With a range of data, services, and solutions aligned with customer needs along the entire securities value chain, SIX aims to grow organically in the business of financial information. BME and SDX will also play a key role here, as will current sector trends such as ESG and alternative data, analytics, and cloud computing.