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.
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.
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.
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.