Nurturing Argentinean innovators

On January 4th, 2016 the Financial Times wrote an article about the switching positions between Argentina and Brazil. The two biggest economies of South America apparently are changing chairs. Argentina lives a great moment now. The new president Macri plans to revive the national economy and with that regain the trust of creditors and investors. On the other hand, Brazil is living a difficult situation with a weak economy and political scandals. The scenario is not pretty at all with an expected inflation of 11% and an expected growth of -2% for 2016. However, while some people cry, others sell handkerchiefs. With this optimism, Brazilian startups ecosystem tries to figure out the opportunities that the current economy can provide and bring innovative solutions to alleviate consumer life.

But this time, I would like to talk a bit about Argentina. After all, it is the country that currently has a huge attention from the international community.

I am pleased to know that despite a slow economy these last years, the Argentinean startup ecosystem tried to evolve. Regarding Fintech, international initiatives took place in the country with the support of local players and even the government.

On May 2015, the Finnovista Pitch Day gathered the Argentinean fintech community to present 5 startups and their disruptive services. This event allows attendants to meet investors, professionals from the financial services environment and other Fintech startups. The 5 start-ups selected to pitch this year were:

  • $ero: independent issuer of electronic money, using mobile technology (www.sero.uy)
  • Kardyt: online trading of credit cards for bank and retailers
  • Invertir.la: mobile app to invest in the Latin American Stock Exchange, increasing the access to more financial products (www.invertir.la)
  • Mondome: comparison tool of the traditional remittances methods with bitcoin transactions in order to send money abroad with the best price (www.mondome.com)
  • Motormax: platform specialized in the research of financing through internet to buy a car (www.motormax.la)

The 7th edition BBVA Open Talent 2015, gathered 652 participants with 193 Latin American entries. Among them, there was one Argentinean finalist, wayniloans. Wayniloans is the first community of loans between individuals with bitcoin technology in Latam (peer-to-peer). It gives more access to credit for the lender and increase the savings for the investors. (www.wayniloans.com)

NXTP Labs, the most active early stage tech investor in Latin America, settled in Buenos Aires, launched its first Fintech accelerator program with 12 startups selected from Argentina, Chile, Ecuador and Uruguay.

In the second week of December, FinTechstage Buenos Aires took place with 400 attendants and gathering personalities from the Argentinean Finance environment but also international speakers to bring together a group of financial innovators ready to debate about the challenges and opportunities of Fintech in Latin America. The conference treated several themes as blockchain, innovation in banks, acceleration of fintech startups, cibersecurity and finance inclusion. Personally, I do believe that the latter has a great potential in Latin America, considering that roughly 50% of adults (Latin America and the Caribbean) remain outside the formal financial system. Let’s remember that the unbanked population generated innovative solutions in Africa, boosting the Fintech environment and creating worldwide benchmarks. In addition to the panels and the networking sessions, the event showcased a pitch competition among the participants of the Fintech Accelerator Program run by NXTP Labs. The winners were:

  • BitCourt, from Argentina: A platform to create, notarize and digitally sign contracts between parties using the blockchain technology (www.bitcourt.com)
  • Olly, from Chile: A smart turn on / off credit card app that prevents fraud and gives you full control over your transactions (www.getolly.com)
  • Pagos de Última Milla, from Argentina: A B2B payment hub (www.flexibility.com.ar)

Several initiatives were listed in this text showing that the future of the country is very encouraging. Mariano Mayer, representative of the Argentinean Production Ministry, said at the FintechStage Buenos Aires: “we need entrepreneurs to create innovation. Argentina needs to grow; to grow it needs to change, and for that, we need you”.

I will also recognize the active participation of the local and international banks in the country. They are organizers of events, attendants, mentors, speakers, investors and partners. When all the groups work together, incredible results emerge. The Argentinean Fintech community had a nice 2015 and we are confident that 2016 will be much better…

Ricardo Linier's Cartoon

Ricardo Linier’s Cartoon

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