Experiencing a self remittance in Manila (& other peculiar facts)

So, world tour has begun.

After Zagreb and a great #Novathon event with Intesa San Paolo (soon something about it as well) I am now in Manila, and jet lag is really rough, but only consequence is an erratic sleep, I actually feel great!

Philippines is an amazing country: 100M population, and 23.5 AVERAGE age. This is key to understand the future challenges here.

Thanks to Miguel “Mikko” Perez, CEO of Ayannah (whom I met last year when I judged the NextMoney challenge in Singapore where they won and his veritable passion about sustainable impact and technology-driven solutions, I have been taken to a great journey.

PS forgot to say, Ayannah also won the FinTech Finals global challenge in Hong Kong, was there as well 🙂

Few more facts:
87% of the population here is unbanked
95% of economy is in cash
90% of Utility bills are paid in cash
25 Billion USD inbound remittances … but more importantly 40B intra-country remittances
the top 5 local remittance companies combined process over a million transactions per day …. and the average transaction is 30 USD

Talking about internal transactions: Ayannah ensures interoperability between money remitters (amongst other things) and this is exactly the journey we took together with Mikko, in Baclaran, one of the most lively areas of Manila.

People here are intimidated by banks. They prefer to go to the “pawn shops” and most of them don’t have cards or wallets (they have a smartphone, though, obviously).
We basically entered a pawn shop in Baclaran and send 1000 pesos (20 dollars give or take) to ourselves and collect it in another part of the town from a different remitter ( A LOT of paper and waiting time later of course, but I didn’t mind because learned a lot in the meantime).

This is the photo-story of the journey 🙂

Baclaran Area

Deposit 1000 Pesos, first Pawn shop

on the road again

second shop (and more papers)

Finally we get our money (back) – litterally 🙂

Another goal of Mikko is to create a local credit score (exportable of course) based on different data sources, one of them being the main Electric Company here.
Mikko explains me as well that given the young population all the global insurers are coming over, and opportunity for InsurTech here are enormous.
They call it VIP … Vietnam, Indonesia,Philippines. Half BILLION people.

Will be back. Also because I want to go to El Nido Palawan (the cover picture). I am so close.

Thanks to Terrapinn and Seamless Asia to bring me here. We also had a great conference, a FinTech GOT reloaded and an amazing panel on Remittances and Inclusion (where Mikko was as well).

Tomorrow night I am heading to Atlanta, 26 hours flight, for BAI Beacon (FinTechStage is curating a consistent part of the content, really excited).

Stay tuned



FinTechStage Inclusion Forum Jakarta : snapshot debrief

Sitting in Doha Lounge, in a stopover on my way back from Jakarta, where we – awesome team – delivered an awesome FinTechStage Inclusion Forum.
600+ participants over 3 days, 2 workshops, a great conference, 29 countries represented, close to 20 regulators, 150+ participants from Indonesia.

The objective of this event was to enhance the dialogue at the crossroads of RegTech, FinTech and Innovation, with a Financial Inclusion focus.

The 1st day we had an invitation only workshop managed by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, where Kosta & C talked about fundamentals and progress of the Level One project, a bold initiative to standardise open API financial infrastructure for emerging markets.

The 2nd day, in a beautifully crowded space, we welcomed the local government officials and a number of great speakers for a super content rich conference.

We will post the report soon, but one of the highlights of the day was really the eco-system mapping. Basically, we extrapolated from the conversation the interactions amongst the different players and spot the intensity or the lack of it in the dialogue.

The last day was a RegTech workshop with Omidyar Network, where we :
– worked on the sails and anchors of the regulators dialogue,
– announced the R2A Initiative (accelerator for Regulators) from ON,
– shared best practices around the world on Technology, SandBoxes and market initiatives.

We had at least 15 different regulators or central bank representatives in the room and most of our speakers.

FinTechStage cube flying microphone went from Uganda to Tanzania to Pakistan to Singapore to Nigeria in the same conversation.

Sopnendu Mohanty, one of the smartest, forward looking and innovative regulators in the world (if not The smartest) said he never saw such a powerful and interactive conversation on RegTech.
That says it all 🙂


Here is the knowledge wall we built :

And here is the v2 of the eco-system mapping we built during the workshop, which is very consistent with th one built during the conference day :


We are very humbled and grateful to have the support of ON and BMGF and we really hope this is the first instance of a long term collaboration !

On a personal note, this is what I really LOVE to do : build dialogue and knowledge bridges around the world. Having fun in doing that. This picture says it all…


Lastly, kudos to the team.
We proved ourselves to be resilient, flexible, hard working and I am beyond proud of you !


We also just opened FinTechStage Milan registrations – http://fintechstage.com/milan-2017/ – just saying 🙂

Stay tuned



Banking the bottom billions 


I am writing from an Uber cab heading to Sentosa beach, in Singapore, ready to begin my 15th straight Sibos (wow)

As some of you might have noticed, I became an advisor for the Omidyar Network, an organization started by Ebay founder Pierre Omidyar, and I must say I impatiently look forward to meet him when the opportunity will come.

Financial Inclusion is not only about rural countries and poor people. In the UK there are 2 millions people without a bank account, and in France there are over 6 M people under banked. This mission is much larger than it looks.

Interestingly enough, as much as very few financial institutions had an Head of Innovation (or even less than that) in 2008, when we founded Innotribe, in a similar way today banks are just starting to consider financial inclusion a priority.

But it’s coming.

Not having access to fair financial services, actually, make someone pay way more than the well served by this industry, and this is an unfair setting per se, already. Think about the commission to send cash abroad, to give an example, or – as in certain countries – to pay someone to deliver cash to someone else, or the endless lines to pay cash an utility bill, or the impossibility to buy online (therefore buy more expensive offline because of little alternative choice).

On the top of it, there is a direct correlation between GDP growth and financial inclusion, which is the reason this is one of the best battles worth fighting.

Omidyar Network (ON), I learnt already from the initial hours of conversations with an exceptionally talented team, has an approach to investments and innovation that I can only admire and second: backing the pioneers.

Not many people are aware of it, but ON backed Prosper, today valued 1.6 Billions, sharing the very early journey in alternative lending, through the initial challenged and turmoil, because they saw the potential.

Investing in a technology, an idea, a new business that is itself in an early stage, and actually become the catalyst for new incumbents to play in the same space is one of the success KPis of ON.

“Changing the world” (or at least one aspect of it) is exactly that: drive the market change. A typical VC would probably back a successful P2P lending today, because the industry has embraced the concept, there is no question about the market and even the metrics are standardised (like the default rate, interest rate and so on).

Since I started writing this post, 3 days of Sibos have past, and I am now on my way back to Europe. I named Omidyar Network in few conversations in Singapore, and it s amazing to realise that an organization that has invested close to a billion dollars in this space it’s familiar only to few (granted, most of my F&F know about ON, already).

In two weeks from now will have the first series of meetings at ON in my new role, and it’s my intention to give as much visibility as possible to the ON initiatives … Bridging it with the FinTech network and develop new collaborations with other VCs and Eco-systems seems one of the right things to do.

Will spend more time in another post about the strategy and especially this concept of “market pivotal” investments …now let me rest after Sibos

Stay tuned