Fintech in Latin America – Insurance for everybody

insurtech_dcTo talk about insurance in Latin America is quite a challenge because there is no culture of insurance in the continent. Conversely to the US or Europe, to buy an insurance policy is more an obligation than a natural preventive action. With this reality, the insurtech has the mission to change the mentalities of the Latino-American people showing the value of an insurance policy for a fair price Brazil, the most developed Fintech landscape of Latin America has shown an interesting evolution of how the insurtechs are evolving themselves.

The Insurtech movement started with online marketplaces of insurance policies since 2011 with actors as Minuto Seguro and Bidu. Since then, the demand has increased exponentially because insurtechs had appealing prices and an available and helpful customer service. We mentioned before that Latino-Americans are not active consumers of insurance services. So, even if the purchase of policies is done online, the contact with the customer service is important to reassure customers about the service acquired. Since 2016, some disruption emerged in the insurance market. We have for example, ToGarantido, a broker of micro-insurance that targets the low income class using online and offline channels. This is an example of insurance for inclusion. Then, we have Youse, an insurtech focused on millennials who can build and purchase their own insurance service with an app. The insurtech also plans to use no intermediaries to sell its services but this point is still under review with the regulator. To foster the Brazilian ecosystem, the largest local insurance company decided to play a key role supporting innovation. Recently, Porto Seguro made a deal with Orange consulting to dig more on the Internet of Thing experience. Porto Seguro also created Oxigenio, an accelerator program to monitor and do partnerships with local insurtechs. Insurtechs are giving to the insurance market a new face that can convince Latino-Americans to finally bet on and trust the sector.

Thank you to assess the article at to able to write a deeper analysis of the evolution of insurtechs in Latin America.




WealthTech in Latin America: Just the beginning

When you think about Latinoamerican countries, you believe that most of Fintechs can solve the problem of Financial inclusion as in other developing countries. In fact, wealthtech in Latin America is also a way to reach financial inclusion. Any kind of investment practice is considered an activity of wealthy people. With the rise of Robo-advisors fintechs, Latinoamerican people can be more involved in investment activities and think outside the box or outside the saving account.

I would like to start with Brazil, where Magnetis, the first Robo Advisor of Latin America was born in 2012. Later, Verios joined the robo-advisor team and today they are the two Fintechs leading the transformation of how investments are done in the country. These Fintechs focused on small investors that today face the problem of paying high administration fees and a lack of tools to monitor the investment results. In addition, to that they resolve the latent discomfort related to brokers who are more focused on reaching commercial goals instead of caring about customers’ needs. Robo-advisors Fintechs in Brazil are democratizing investment access to more customers that did not dare to reach a broker and do have the money to invest. They convey the message that investments can be done by everybody. According to the Investor Pulse 2015 survey, Brazilian millenials are very interested to use this type of solution (74% of surveyed). Having a young population, we expect in a short future a higher adhesion to this new model of investment. In response to this movement, current incumbents are adapting themselves to the technology and try to create their own solutions. The local wealthtech landscape become more complex offering new solutions. For example, Robo-advisors do serve local traders. Finally, I started with Brazil because, it was the pioneer in the Latin American landscape but today Mexico and Colombia have also developed their local robo-advisors solution. The WealthTech is disrupting the financial inclusion concept in the continent.

Thank you to assess my extract at the to write a deeper analysis of fintechs in the wealth management world of Latin America.



Problems with bank accounts in Brazil? Fintechs are the answer.

This is a text that I did for Plus55, a content platform for foreigners living in Brazil

Fintechs focus on correcting the inefficiencies and dissatisfaction felt by consumers of traditional banks

Fintechs, with their increasing popularity worldwide, are creating a revolution within financial systems for focusing on innovation and user experience. If Uber, Netflix and Airbnb disrupted traditional industries, startups are also disrupting the banking sector.

In the case of Brazil, as in other developing countries, Fintechs focus on correcting the inefficiencies and dissatisfaction felt by consumers of traditional banks. As a result, according to the last Fintechlab radar, there are 207 Fintechs in the country. However, this number is expected to rise to 240 at the beginning of 2017.

Although the benefits of Brazilian Fintechs are numerous, we decided that it would be most practical not to enumerate their many positives, but instead to make a list of start-ups that would best assist new arrivals to Brazil.

Foreigners typically encounter some difficulties with opening bank accounts quickly, mostly because of local bureaucracy. So without further ado, here are some Fintechs that’ll help you navigate this.


This is a digital bank that you can access from either your laptop or its phone app. With a Zuum account, you’ll be able to charge your prepaid mobile phone, your transport card, pay your bills, and transfer money. In addition, you can request a prepaid Mastercard that would let you make cash withdrawals and make payments in select stores. To charge your account, you can complete transfers from some banks or at accredited shops. Zuum is linked to Vivo, the mobile company, so Zuum offers some benefits for also using your Vivo account. Fees might be charged for certain transactions and for acquiring a debit card. For more information, you can go check out their site.


This is a prepaid Mastercard that can be used both within Brazil and abroad. You can acquire a card by going to one of the affiliated shops listed on their official website. To charge your prepaid card account, you can use boletos, bank transfers, a specific Acesso bank, or by going to accredited shops. In addition to making payments at any brick-and-mortar stores, the Accesso card also allows you to shop online. You will be charged a monthly fee to use the card, and might also need to pay extra fees on certain transactions. You can manage your card account through its online app. For more information, take a look.


This is an online digital account that allows you to charge your mobile phone, buy apps or games for your phone, pay bills, and complete money transfers. To make a deposit into your account you can use a Celcoin bank account, a boleto, or simply go to one of their accredited shops. Some fees are charged for cash withdrawal. The account is entirely managed through the phone app. For more information, click here.

An important reminder! To have access to the above services, you’ll need a CPF. Plus, keep in mind that authorized amounts that can be transferred into these Fintech accounts range from R$ 3000 to R$ 5000 per month.

There are also another two useful Fintechs that I would suggest checking out, although these require a RNE.


Regarded as Brazil’s most successful Fintech, this is an app connected to a credit card. In order to acquire the card, you’ll need both a CPF and a RNE. The request process is done through the app. It’s best to have another user invite you to open an account, although you can also request an account directly on the site. The app is free, and you won’t pay an annuity on the credit card. Furthermore, this Fintech is renown for its great customer service. For more information, go check out their website.


This is the Venmo of Brazil. The app allows you to make money transfers between people (your phone contacts, for example) and lets you avoid  standard wiring operations. To send and receive money, you’ll need a credit card or a picpay wallet. Any money you receive can either be transferred to a bank account or left in the wallet to pay for services at select shops. Businesses can also use Picpay to receive money. Both the app and transfers are free. For more information, go to

Remember that Fintechs aren’t banks (we’ll cover the digital banks opening across Brazil in another article)  If you’re curious to learn more about Fintech services offered in Brazil, be sure to let me know so that I can address those topics in the future.


La Fintech en Amérique Latine lutte pour l’inclusion financière

Here you have the second part of the text that I wrote for Fintech-Mag

Second volet de notre étude sur la Fintech Latino-Américaine sous la plume experte de Denisse Cuellar, blogueuse pour Fintechlosophy, qui nous parle d’inclusion financière.

Le Mexique, 157 fintechs regroupées en un véritable lobby

Après le Brésil, le deuxième pays dynamique dans le secteur de la fintech est le Mexique avec d’après Finnovista (1), un ratio de 157 fintechs pour un peu plus de 120 millions d’habitants. Les secteurs du paiement et du prêt y comptent parmi les plus porteurs de l’écosystème : dans un pays où le taux de bancarisation avoisine les 40%, les fintechs Mexicaines misent sur l’inclusion financière des populations laissées de côté par la finance.

Quelques exemples : Konfio est une fintech qui finance les PME en leur octroyant de petits crédits et en utilisant la technologie pour les rapprocher de leurs clients ; Kubo Financiero est une plateforme de peer to peer lending. Elle reçoit de l’argent d’investisseurs indépendants et répartit les montants sur plusieurs prêts individuels, afin d’amortir le risque. En tant qu’emprunteur, Kubo Financiero offre un service dynamique avec des taux d’intérêts plus intéressants que les banques ; Clip, enfin, propose une solution de paiement mobile pour les petits commerçants, leur permettant d’accepter les paiements par carte.

Les fintechs mexicaines se sont regroupées en association pour entamer des pourparlers avec le gouvernement pour afin de mettre en place une réglementation qui offrira des garanties de protection au client final.

L’Argentine fait le pari de l’inclusion financière

L´Argentine, qui compte 60 fintechs, selon Finnovista (1), porte la promesse de grandes innovations dans les mois à venir. Devenu le spécialiste blockchain de l’Amérique Latine, ses fintechs comme KoinBanx et Signatura font le pari d’utiliser cette technologie à des fins d’inclusion financière, tout en offrant de véritables garanties juridiques.

Qui plus est, le président Macri a proposé cette année une loi une loi encore à l’étude, permettant la création d’une entreprise en une journée et de donner des avantages fiscaux à ceux qui investissent dans les startups. Le passage de cette loi devrait en toute logique renforcer la croissance et le développement des entreprises en Argentine.

L’Espagnol, une langue commune qui ouvre les portes des marchés voisins

En dépit d’une population moins importante, des pays comme la Colombie (42 M) et le Chili (17 M) commencent d’ores et déjà à structurer leur écosystème de fintechs. Si, hors Brésil, les marchés sont à priori plus restreints, les fintechs Latino-Américaines ont l’avantage d’une langue commune, l’espagnol, qui leur ouvre les marchés voisins. Afluenta (une fintech de peer to peer lending) est par exemple présente en Argentine, au Mexique et au Pérou. Alors qu’Alegra (qui propose un système de gestion financière pour PME) est implantée en Colombie, au Chili, au Panama, au Pérou et au Mexique. Nombreuses fintechs Latino-Américaines visent ainsi, dès leur création, un marché global.

En marche vers une consolidation du secteur

En Amérique Latine, 2016 a été l’année des fintechs. De nombreux investisseurs étrangers ont décidé de miser sur la région, notamment au Brésil et au Mexique. Les banques locales comme Bradesco (Brésil), Itau (Brésil), BBVA (Mexique et Colombie), Gentera (Mexique), Banco Patagonia (Argentine), Banco BCI (Chili) savent qu’elles ne peuvent désormais plus ignorer l’avancée des fintechs dans la région et se positionnent comme des partenaires.

Certaines d’entre elles ont mis en place des programmes d’accélérations, d’autres ont construit des espaces de coworking pour apprendre à travailler ensemble ou ont créé des corporate ventures pour pouvoir investir dans les fintechs. Les banques de développement comme la Banque Mondiale, IFC, BID et CAF suivent aussi le mouvement, voyant dans les fintechs une véritable opportunité pour résoudre enfin le problème de l’accès aux services financiers. Elles organisent ainsi des groupes de travail sur le sujet et prévoient des fonds pour accroître leurs investissements dans le secteur.

A ce jour, le succès des fintechs dans la région se fonde sur la proposition de services et de produits qui sont transparents, facile d’accès et sont proches des clients. Les produits ne sont pas nécessairement les plus novateurs ou les plus révolutionnaires, mais la simplicité et la praticité de leur usage ont réussi à combler un vide laissée par les banques. Les frustrations relatives aux services financiers restent vives dans la région, et corrélativement, les opportunités visant à créer de nouvelles solutions sont nombreuses. Ne perdons pas de vue que l’Amérique latine reste un marché de 600 millions de consommateurs adeptes de digital. Et que les entrepreneurs Latino-Américains voient au-delà de leurs frontières, dessinant l’ambition de grandir à l’international pour développer leur marché.

N’est-ce pas un bel Eldorado qui voit le jour ?

Prochains défis pour la région : approfondir le dialogue avec les régulateurs, assurer des flux d’investissements et gagner la confiance des clients. 2017 se présente alors comme une année clé, une année qui pourrait ancrer de manière durable l’évolution du paysage financier régional. Dave McClure de 500 startup a assuré qu’« il n’y a pas de marchés émergents, mais que des marchés, et que ces marchés sont des marchés à une croissance très rapide ».

Un conseil : garder à l’œil les fintechs de Latino-Américaines… Elles pourraient rapidement en surprendre plus d’un.




Amérique Latine : le nouvel Eldorado des fintechs ?

Here you have my text that I wrote for FintechMag

Premier volet de notre étude sur la Fintech Latino-Américaine sous la plume experte de Denisse Cuellar, consultante à São Paulo, au Brésil pour Clay Innovation.

Nul ne l’ignore, Londres, la Silicon Valley et Singapour sont aux avant-postes de l’écosystème Fintech. Un petit groupe rejoint récemment par la Chine, qui avec pas moins de 7 licornes sur son territoire, a su créer un contexte favorable au développement de la Fintech. Loin d’être indifférent, le continent Africain, de son côté, voit dans la Fintech une opportunité majeure lui permettant de résoudre le problème de l’inclusion bancaire.

Dans chacun de ces pays, la fintech a su s’adapter pour offrir une proposition de valeur différente, susceptible de bouleverser l’environnement régional. Loin des yeux, loin du cœur, l’Amérique Latine n’est que trop rarement perçu comme un terreau dynamique de ce marché innovant. Tour d’horizon en deux volets de ses acteurs et de sa stratégie pour faire de la Fintech un secteur dont la croissance pourrait bien impacter la sphère sociale.

Le fort taux d’adhésion au digital de l’Amérique Latine, un atout pour les fintechs

Le contexte d’abord, avec ces quelques données chiffrées : une population de 630 millions d’habitants, un taux de bancarisation de 50%, un taux d’utilisation d’internet proche de 62%, supérieur à la moyenne mondiale (50%). En 2016, près de 400 millions de smartphones étaient en circulation dans la région. D’ailleurs, les Latino-Américains surfent en mobilité près de 4 heures par jour. Un chiffre impressionnant, largement supérieur au voisin Américain, qui compte 1,84 heures en moyenne passé sur le net. Il est à noter que Facebook est le deuxième site le plus fréquenté dans la région, après Google.

En d’autres mots, les Latino-Américains sont des utilisateurs chevronnés d’Internet avec un petit faible pour les réseaux sociaux. En plus de Facebook et Whatsapp, le Latino-américain se délecte des plats livrés à domicile qu’il commande via des apps comme iFood. Il n’est pas avare en shopping à distance et dépense volontiers son bon argent sur des plateformes d’e-commerce comme Mercado Libre ou Linio. Comme partout, enfin, il a adopté Uber pour se déplacer.

Côté services financiers, en revanche, les Latino-Américains sont dans l’ensemble très mal lotis. Alors pourquoi ne pas profiter de cet engouement vis-à-vis de l’Internet, des smartphones et des Apps pour l’étendre aux services financiers ?

Le Brésil, locomotive de la Fintech

En Amérique Latine, plusieurs pays mènent de front une vraie révolution dans les services financiers.  On pense ainsi au Brésil, au Mexique ou encore à l’Argentine où de nombreuses fintechs ont déjà gagné l’appui et la fidélité des clients. Plein feux sur le Brésil pour ce premier volet de notre étude.

Avec plus de 200 millions d’habitants et plus de 200 fintechs référencées à ce jour par Fintechlab (1), le Brésil est sans conteste la locomotive de ce mouvement de digitalisation des services financiers. Le paiement et le crédit y sont notamment très développés grâce à des entreprises très connue du secteur comme Nubank, GuiaBolso et BankFacil.

  • Nubank propose une carte de crédit, gérée à partir d’une App : licorne probable de la région, elle a su gagner la confiance de fonds d´investissement internationaux comme Sequoia, FundersFund ou DST. La fintech bénéficie de la confiance et la fidélité des millenials, devenus les porte-voix de la marque,  qui célèbrent son expérience utilisateur unique et ses tarifs compétitifs.
  • GuiaBolso est une app gratuite qui facilite la gestion de la finance des brésiliens. Une innovation qui a un impact direct sur la croissance de l’épargne et la baisse du taux d’endettement des ménages.
  • BankFacil propose enfin un service de crédit avec garantie. Dans un pays où les taux d’intérêt sont très élevés, BankFacil propose des tarifs attractifs tout en simplifiant les démarches administratives des institutions financières traditionnelles. Autant d’atouts qui rendent la jeune pousse de plus en plus populaire.

À retrouver jeudi prochain, le second volet de cette contribution avec, un focus sur les fintechs mexicaines, argentines, chiliennes et colombiennes et sur la consolidation du marché Latino-Américain.




2017: Latin America, you can be the exception of the global trend.

The end of the year accumulated several duties and the beginning of the year was quite busy and I do apologize to stop writing for a while but now I am ready to catch up the time lost.Let’s start quickly: the end of the year and a new 2017.

The end of 2016 was quite positive for the Fintech ecosystem in Latin America.Here you have some numbers:

  • # of Fintechs in Brazil: 206 according to the Fintechlab
  • #of Fintechs in Mexico: 158 according to Finnovista
  • #of Fintechs in Colombia: 77 according to Finnovista
  • #of Fintechs in Argentina: 60 according to Finnovista
  • #of Fintechs in Chile: 56 according to Finnovista

In 2016, investments in Latin American Fintechs increased (here you have some examples):

  • For Brazil: Nubank (USD 132M), GuiaBolso (USD 20M) and BankFacil (USD 5M)
  • For Mexico: Kueski (USD 10M), Konfio (USD 8M) and Kubo Financiero (USD 7.5M)
  • For Colombia: Alkanza (USD 3M)

Now in 2017, we know that the number of Fintechs in each country have already increased, governments started structured themselves to learn to deal with Fintechs, Fintech associations has been created (Colombia and Argentina) and even the investors organized themselves to follow better the Fintech growth. In January 2017, new investments were done in the region, Ripio (old BitPago) from Argentina received USD 1.9M and Asaas from Brazil got USD 0.8M.

2017 started positively. Trends? Robo Advisors, Blockchain, Regtech…not really I believe more on Insurtech in the region. Big Insurance companies will finally follow the path that Banks started last year and will learn to deal with insurtechs and new technologies related (IoT for example) to reach a population that do not have an insurance culture.

Challenges? A lot! Regulation, higher investments for mature fintechs, scale, more early stage investments …

Banks will finally go beyond observation…will they finally buy one Fintech, two? why not.

International investments should grow because economic situation in most countries of Latin America is improving.

Finally, and my only certitude, Latin America is not the US or Europe. So if the “booming” of the Fintech sector slowed down there, it does not mean that Latin America will follow the same trend. Fintechs are solving issues that big organizations and even some governments did not want to deal locally. On the other hand, customers seem finally ready to use digital solutions. So  initiatives and projects that can finally change a continent should not be stopped and we should work to foster the fintech culture in the region (in English, Spanish or Portuguese). These are my best wishes for 2017!



Source: The Economist 2017



Forum mobile: Technology first, finance after

The Forum Mobile+ that took place in Sao Paulo was composed by two days of panels. The first day focused on mobile commerce and the second one more on mobile finance with a specific day dedicated to “bots”. I will talk especially about the mobile finance journey. However, I want to mention that the mobile commerce evolves very fast as new technologies appear and related fraud processes become more complex. Putting both subjects at the same conference implies that e-commerce and fintechs share technologies and learnings and that’s why in the future the frontier between both of them can be blurry.


The mobile finance day started with a presentation of fintechs. The panel was made up of fintechs from different areas and stages of growth and therefore with different strategies and challenges to approach. The audience was mainly represented by big and medium companies from financial services, IT and ecommerce. They were very involved in the discussion with several questions. This shows the latent curiosity to learn and discover what makes the success and uniqueness of the fintechs. Among the speakers we had: Neon Bank (a Brazilian Digital Bank with focus on millennials), Easy Invest (an online stock broker), Guiabolso (financial management app), Youse (first online insurance that sells customized products with focus on millennials) and Acesso (a prepaid card).  During the conversation, all the fintechs mentioned how they use technology, the relationship with their clients and the internal culture that they create within their companies. Several compliance questions were asked by the audience. All the fintechs are aware of regulation and stick to the current rules. Nevertheless, they are also active in this domain being in contact with the regulator when it is needed. When asked about the CTO in each startup, the answers were very different. For some of them, the position of CTO does not exist because they believe in a horizontal organization and each project manager is a sort of CTO. For others, the startup has a CTO in the organization but the process to find him was very long. The CTO is a key player in the fintech so it required a lot of effort to find the right match. The CTO can be at the top but he has to be actively involved in all the IT projects. The CTO can also be onboard since the beginning and committed to the project despite pivoting. The example of the CTO, shows that there is no winner model to be the most efficient. However, what can be a challenge and one of the founders mentioned is where to find the right people that excel on development and technological knowledge. The scope of research is not anymore one city but around the country and may be in some years fintech will start hiring abroad.


Banks had also a word to say during this event. In Brazil, there was a strike of banks that last one month in september. During this time, bank branches were closed by consequence customers had to use the digital apps and internet of their banks. Santander, present at the event, said that the number of users of digital banking  increased of 100% during the strike. Ironically, the strike helped to educate customers to use more digital banking and therefore go less to the physical agencies. Giving that this is the trend, banks focus on developing products that will be part of the digital life of a customer (Uber, facebooks, Airbnb, Ifood…). Can we imply that agencies will disappear soon? According to Santander, the agencies will play another function to be closer to the client and offer specific and customized products. Banco do Brasil, agreed with Santander on these points. The difference is that the effects of the strike were not so impactful for them because their customers were already very digital. In addition, he highlighted that every innovation for the final user implies also innovation inside. For Banco do Brasil, a historic institution, that can be a challenge. However they managed to create an internal innovation culture that has already showed results.

Banco Intermedium also went on stage at the vent. Banco Intermedium is a 100% digital bank whose clients do not pay any fee to have a bank account either to use basic services. Supermarkets do not require an entrance fee but they do earn money with the products sold inside… a bank should follow the same model. That is the proposition of Banco Intermedium: to democratize banking for all the users and with the time maybe other banks will follow.

With a strong trend of digital dominance within financial services, we would think that digital currencies will also gain strength. However, OKI, ATM machines producer, pointed out that the use of physical currency has not decreased so far, conversely it is only growing. As an ATM producer, it has to modernize its products for example OKI launched a recyclable ATM machine that was very useful during the strike period. The company knows that at some point physical money will stop circulate as it occurred in Scandinavian countries, however in Brazil the phenomenon has not started yet.

Now, let’s have a look at the Bots experience day, a new trend that seduces companies with a customer service. Bluelab claimed the difficulty to hire the service of robots because the billing can be tricky. False accuracy (the customer got the information requested after a long message difficult to read) and false retention (interaction with robots were so inefficient that the customer preferred to drop it and go for human contact) corrupt the results of the bots performance. Companies need to define concrete KPI to assess the real results  of the bots and therefore paying the right amount for the service. During the event, Facebook mentioned that  1000 out of 30.000 chatbots created for Facebook messenger were from Brazilians in order to show the increasing involvement of the country in this technology. One interesting example is the bot of Banco Original. During the day of launch, the bot managed to answer 84% of the questions with success and with one month on the air, it has attended more than 80.000 clients.


These 2 days put ahead the technology as key actor of the transformation of e-commerce and financial services. In a fintech, the technology is a team of people who knows to code, who follows the new trends, who needs to learn everyday… who loves what they do to create disruption. On the other side, with contant innovations, technology is also the share of the budget that will constantly increase (infrastructure, softwares, high level employees…). Technology, you don’t need to be fancy, but efficient …very efficient.



The Brazilian Association of Fintechs is born!

Fintechs seek to leverage innovative systems (alternative or complementary) to the traditional banking system. With more than 220 fintechs, Brazil explored the options of this new dynamism. Led by the executives Rodrigo Soeiro Ubaldo (Allgoo), Paul Deitos (, Bernardo Pascowitch (Yubb), José Prado (Fintech connection), Mathias Fischer (Meu Cambio) and Ricardo Motta (Cariocas), the ABFintech – the Brazilian Association of Fintechs- was launched yesterday!

The ABFintech is based on three pillars: generation of businesses for its members, dealing with regulators and creation of positive social impact. It will develop actions that can contribute to the consolidation of the ecosystem, the expansion of the market and the internationalization of the members in order to put Brazil ahead within the Fintech global scenario.

“Fintechs have the potential to transform the way people and businesses are related to financial services. The domestic market is very promising and is not behind other international markets. However, in such a competitive market, it lacked unity of our forces. This is the first chapter in the transformation”said Paulo Deitos (, co-founder of ABFintech.

The association will also be a bridge between potential clients – companies, banks or
final consumers – and startups. In this sense, beyond regulatory matters, ABFintech looks for promoting and organizing events and fairs for the B2B and B2C public. “In some cases, it is more important for the FinTech to approach a customer than an investor,” recognizes Rodrigo Soeiro Ubaldo (Allgoo).

This is great news for the Latin American Fintech ecosystem! Brazil joins Mexico, Chile and Central America that have also created a Fintech association to empower the market of the region.


Looking for a space to innovate…Banks are available

During my trip to Mexico, I had the opportunity to visit some innovation spaces opened by banks. Several banks praise the collaboration with fintechs and that’s why they decided to dedicate specific areas to work together.

BBVA is considered as the friendliest bank with fintechs and one example of this close relationship is the opening of several Innovation Centers in the world starting by Madrid in 2011. In Madrid, the BBVA Innovation Center has an area named “the Living Labs” where the bank presents its most innovative products to the public. The building organizes events related to new technologies, fintechs and entrepreneurship, these ones opened to everybody. Beside, the innovation teams of the bank do also work in this place. Being in Mexico, I went to the BBVA Bancomer building in Mexico DF, to visit the “Piso 33”, or “Floor 33th” the innovation center of Mexico. This floor was opened in January 2016 to follow the innovation models of the other BBVA subsidiaries. Several events are organized with fintechs and entrepreneurs. The space is inside the headquarter of the bank allowing the employees to attend the events or workshops at any time. I was there the day before the final of the Latin American Open Talent, and I could see the commitment of the international and local executives of the bank to know better the fintechs. This type of interaction brings more empathy and learnings for both sides.



BBVA Innovation Center


Banregio Bank, a Mexican regional bank, with focus on services for small and medium-sized companies had also inaugurated a “laboratory” to interact with startups. The goal of the bank is to define a new way to work and provide new products that can involve startups, the small and medium sized companies and the bank. Banregio Labs wants to connect the startup ecosystem with the financial services industry offering a space to work for the startups, training and connections.

In August 2016, Gentera opened an innovation lab to interact with fintechs. Gentera is the group behind Compartamos Bank, the largest microfinance bank in Latin America. Fiinlab, the name of the lab, intends to incubate fintechs and work with all the actors of the ecosystem in one place. The space is in the same building of the headquarter therefore constant interaction with the employees of the bank is encouraged too. Being a group that believes and promotes financial inclusion, Fiinlab’mission is to find and share new innovation business models that mixed with technology can create impact on society.





When comparing with Brazil, I realized that financiaI institutions that bet on physical spaces to interact with fintechs took a different approach.

Itau Bank and Redpoint Eventures inaugurated a building of five floors, named CUBO to be close to the startups. The building is a coworking space for startups, not only fintechs. Several events are organized at the building to promote innovation and entrepreneurship. Some other companies as Saint Gobain, Accenture, Mastercard among others did a partnership with CUBO to approach the startups that work there. As any resident of a coworking space, the startup pays a monthly rent at the CUBO. The building is far from the headquarter. CUBO has become a reference point for the Brazilian entrepreneurship gathering several members of the ecosystem in one place.   

The insurance sector is also betting on innovation spaces. Porto Seguro, the biggest insurance company of Brazil created an accelerator program named Oxigenio. To accelerate these startups (somehow related to the insurance market), Porto Seguro built an exclusive area for them to work.  The residents of the building share the space with employees of Porto Seguro that are opening a startup. To transform the area in an innovation spot, several events about entrepreneurship and innovation are organized to for the general public.



Oxigênio Aceleradora


In fact, there is no a unique winning shot to be the best in innovation and that’s why banks try several alternatives to test which will be the best way to learn, to breathe and to swallow innovation. It is interesting the different models that we have in Latin America and as any “startup project” , these models should pivot and bring more innovative structures in the future.

Do banks earn money with these initiatives? It is not evident because they cannot measure if there is an additional revenue coming directly from these projects. However, they set KPIs about the impact that they are creating in the fintech environment (for example number of startups incubated, additional investments during the period of incubation, new partnerships …). In other words, the return of these investments (dedicated buildings, organizing events..) is taken by the entrepreneurs and the fintech environment. These initiatives boost opportunities for Fintechs to do networking, to meet investors, to create partnerships and find new clients.

 Banks, you are doing more than collaborating, you are putting the bricks and reinforcing the columns of the fintech ecosystem…that’s why the bank-fintech relationship is more than complicated.



BBVA Innovation Center



Finnosummit 2016: Latin American fintech community getting stronger

Last week, I was in Mexico DF for the Finnosummit event which today has become a reference for the Latin American Fintech ecosystem. André Fontao and Fermin Bueno from Finnovista and hosts of the event praised the empowerment of the fintech community gathering 500 attendants at the Centro Cultural Roberto Cantoral.


Alta Ventures – The right team


The morning started strong with the participation of Alta Ventures, Currency Group, Abra and Visa remembering us that we are in a process of hyperinnovation and new technologies in payments, digital currencies and APIs have to be considered to be in the front of the industry and there is no more excuse to not innovate. But what are doing fintechs to be in the front of the innovation race?

Sometimes innovation is not only high advanced technology. Innovation is to put the user in the core of all the process, and that is what Prestadero and Konfio did, providing credit respectively to people and small companies in Mexico. But of course, technology cannot be forgotten and Kuspit presented the new solutions of robot advisors to introduce Mexican population to the investment culture. Miguel Herrera from Quona Capital highlighted that fintech is a key actor for financial inclusion, if not almost a synonym, because they can reach a population that big institutions preferred to ignore and can have impact beyond unbanked people. Financial inclusion is also financial education and that’s why an investment robot advisor solution can also be part of the financial inclusion process.    


Konfio from Mexico


The afternoon started with a provocation to the big organizations. Juan Mazzini from Celent presented the inevitable work of the banks to reach the fintechs and a necessity to understand them to not be left behind. Banks cannot escape anymore and need to adapt themselves with accelerator programs, incubators and innovation spaces. As he mentioned some years ago, to have an innovation area was a privilege for some companies today it is a requirement to survive. In Brazil, to illustrate the relationship  between bank and fintechs, we tend to use the gorilla and the bees, Juan preferred to depict it as “it only needed a Jedi to destroy the Death star”.

Later in the afternoon, BBVA and the Mexican banks BanRegio and Gentera stated the search of cooperation with fintechs hence they launched innovation programs and defined exclusive spaces where startups and bank can work together. International speakers and investors had confirmed the growth of fintechs and the need of innovation and cooperation in both parts when it is possible.

The last key note of the day was led by QED investors where Bill Cillufo pointed out the main reasons to invest in Latam: it is early in the cycle, it is not easy to do business, global trends are real, some ideas have already been tested elsewhere and there is evidence of case of success. Latam represents a great opportunity and cannot be missed.


QED Investors – Why to invest in Latam?


Finally, this event cannot be complete without the final of BBVA Open Talent for Latin America. 17 startups (Mexico, Colombia, Peru , Brazil, Ecuador and Chile) selected from all Latin America presented their pitch in front of the audience along the day. The two winners of the night were Alegra (accounting software and invoicing for small companies) from Colombia and Kobra (a network that brings transparency to the banks and collectors during the collection process) from Mexico. Both will participate of an immersion program during two weeks in Spain and Mexico meeting international BBVA teams.

It was a pleasure to be part of the Finnosummit Mexico and discover more about other Fintech communities that are growing and need to be known in Latin America. I certainly praise for more events where we can gather the Latin American Fintech community to learn more from each other and create more opportunities. Thanks Finnovista for that! 

Finally, I would like to congratulate Planejei and Pop Recarga, Brazilian fintechs, for their participation in the competition. In Brazil, some people tend to say that Brazilian fintechs lack of global vision but after seeing your performance within the latam or rather global community, guys, you are in the right path.



Open BBVA Talent Winners: Alegra from Colombia and Kobra from Mexico