Money2020 could have happened 6 years ago… and be called Innotribe.

Just came back from Money2020 Europe.
As you guys know, I am in the FinTech events space as well with FinTechStage, with a complete different philosophy, but I must admit Jonathan and Anil really nailed it.
They manage to organize the biggest FinTech event in Europe (please, do not compare it with Sibos when it happens in Europe, that would be a mistake), and most importantly to make it in a very profitable way. Too profitable someone might say, but that’s the jealousy talking 🙂
What is more important, though, is that Money2020 is in my opinion the biggest commercial missed opportunity fo Innotribe (after the Innotribe Fund that did not happen, but that one was more long term).
I remember clearly the conversations we had about spinning off Innotribe events, associate them to the Startup Challenge and become (back in 2010 or so) the leading FinTech event worldwide.
I see plenty of reasons why SWIFT has decided NOT to do it:
  • they are not an event company
  • Sibos is not for profit (and they are not an event company)
  • Innotribe was tolerated, back then, so beef it up was a stretch (an event company, really !?!)
  • Build up an inside venture like this requires new resources not that easy to pull off
This being said, let s do a quick math:
  • 3500 attendees, out of which say 2000 paid (I think was more) average 1800 EUR/ticket that makes 3.6 M EUR
  • minimum booth size 20K, up to 100K
  • 120+ sponsors
Money 2020 is at least a 5/6 M EUR business, at this size, and certainly they need a quite senior and extended team team to build this.
SWIFT could have done it probably with 2 people, as Innotribe team would have taken care of the content and speakers management, and most of the work could have been absorbed by the Sibos team, with a couple of new hires.
If we assume this would have scaled as I think Money2020 will, and become like 3 times bigger, this is an opportunity for SWIFT worth some low two digits of the annual gross profit (so would Sibos, probably, but harder to change a more than 40 years old setting)
Paradox of course is that it would have been an event built by the community for the community, and funding Innotribe at the same time, which IMO (In My Opinion, mum)  would have avoided many of the “ROI of Innovation” endless debates.
Why am I writing this?
This is not a “I told you so” moment, which would be pointless.
It s another corporate misfits celebration, and a praise to be bolder, for everyone.
Is it a big deal NOT to do it?
Is not, until you are Kodak.
But Kodak does not happen super often, and in financial services probably even less.
I could have talked about the Digital Asset Grid, an incubated Innotribe project in 2010 (I believe) that is surprisingly identical to a distributed ledgers based identity solution backed by the whole community … someone has in mind something similar, recently built, by someone else :)?
PS for everyone reading this, I am inviting you FOR FREE in Milan at FinTechstage on May 5th 2016
Use the code PROMO100 and get your  free ticket!
Stay Tuned
Matteo

How would you categorise FinTech Eco-systems?

A couple of days ago Lazaro, Mariela and I sat together and, treasuring the experience of the first 4 events with FinTechStage, we tried to spell out our mission, and the first thing we did was to define different Type of FinTech Eco-systems, to assess where the value we can bring reaches its best potential.

We came out with FOUR categories:
Disconnected
Disorganised
Organised
Recognised
1- Disconnected
In many countries there is some form of Startup gathering and related capital, and even a significant banking presence.
FinTech is more a “wave” they see being talked about, but there is no “go to” place to even have a meaningful discussion. Capital and Statups are definitely not focusing on FinTech, and at best there is a Meetup around a beer (I am not undermining here, it s actually a great excuse to have a beer :))
2- Disorganised
Up until only 12 months ago, this category (in developed countries) was by far the biggest.
In this type of eco-system you can easily identify the FinTech initiatives, either from financial institutions or private (sponsored) incubators and accelerators and few local gaterings on the topic.
Venture Capitalists have these countries on their radar, and often there is little “local” FinTech Capital available, mostly because the effort of local scouting is left to the goodwill of the global investors themselves.
Disorganised Eco-systems tend to set up local events mostly, for the very precise reason of getting together the different pieces of the system, and to exchange with other experts or listen to Chris Skinner they have to go abroad (Chris, I have stolen you a slide today, I making it up :))
3- Organised
The nuance between this category and the “Disorganised” one is actually very thin.
An Organised (FinTech) system has a local catalyst, and what we observed is that it usually works best when this role  is taken by some sort of super-nation, government or community backed (or linked) and in any case non-commercial, “super partes” body. Like Luxembourg for Finance, Holland Fintech, FinTech CH, Innovate Finance, FinTech France, FinTech HK and others.
A strong nuance between Disorganised and Organised eco-systems is the sense of sharing and collaboration, and i have a story about it.
FinTechStage is mainly a sponsorship based business, that s how it gets sustainable.
Whilst in certain countries having two big banks co-sponsoring the same event is just an utopia, on other places they are OVER  the “pissing contest” stage, and understand how the engagement with the start-ups, the investors, and the other innovators from the rest of the world is the right approach.
In our last event a government-backed organisation acted as the single point of contact with the entire financial community, to organise without doubt has been the best Fintech Event event in the country.
4- Recognised
London, New York.
Now, we have to make a difference between the Financial Services Centres and the FinTech Centre. For Singapore and Honk Kong, for instance, I am not sure – yet – what would matter the most.
This exercise was extremely helpful.
Discovering talent, bringing or build capital, bridging the different communities in for the Disorganised and the Organised Eco-systems and structure great content is what FinTechStage should do and what he does best.
Is not perfect, and we have plenty of ideas on how to make it better.
I have NOT nominated any of these (category 2 and 3) on purpose, I am expecting you reactions to figure out wether or not I made sense of it and – most importantly – where some of the countries of my readers might stand.
Italy, for example, was disconnected until two years ago, and is getting disorganised, which sounds rough but is actually a positive sign (and – of course – my opinion). Actually my almost omonym Prime Minister, that s a call for you. Well, there will be more YouTube video with your english sloppiness, but I have plenty myself 🙂
Stay tuned
Matteo
MatteoRizzi_Gladiator

Gladiators

You know by now I like TV shows, especially to survive long flights like this one when I am not blogging or working or sleeping.

We are gladiators with a suit” is how each member of the team of Olivia Pope, the hero of Scandal, a US made TV show, define himself. These guys are often doing the groundwork.
They are relentless, they get their hands dirty, they are not afraid to break the rules and they trust each other, often when nobody else believe in their mission (these guys are often called to solve cases no one would take and their leader, beside sleeping and beeing madly in love with the President of the United States, is a true genius in dealing with these apparently unsolvable problems).

Allow me to make a jump back in 2008.
As Gottfried (SWIFT CEO) said in his opening speech at Innotribe at Sibos this year :

when Innotribe started SWIFT Management had no idea what this ‘thing’ was all about.

These are textual words, and despite – of course – being a bit emphasized, they are actually accurate.
FinTech was not even a commonly used word, back then.
Innovation merely existed as a vague concept, no fintech accelerators, no challenges, no Labs…
Nothing.

This is the first Innotribe stand at Sibos in 2009, in Hong Kong, with pictures from the very first Fintech Startups gathering (the Challenge came one year later) – please notice Lazaro Campos, you will see later in this post as well.

PS : notice Kosta and Peter with a suit and an unusual version of Mela 🙂

 

This is the Innotribe Stand in 2015 in Singapore just beside the SWIFT stand and actually since the very first session using the SWIFT stand as the second scene because the Innotribe stand was too small.

What you see inside is the most beautiful interactive all-round screen I have ever seen, in what I think was the most beautiful place of every Sibos I have ever attended.
We were gladiators.

Now something else…
It is actually the first time I check this. I didn’t know I was in the picture as well.
Look…

TransferWise Innotribe 2011

This is the link of Tranferwise pitch at Sibos 2011 :
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w5eQZGvRZ8Y

Now everyone talks about Transferwise as the greatest example of Fintech Unicorn.
We were gladiators.

This is the article that announces the official opening od Level39, roughly two and a half years ago : it mentions Innotribe as one of their first events.

Screen Shot 2015-11-03 at 05.37.11
Now, you would ask, why this rather nostalgic, maybe Innotribe too focused, kind of celebrative and self-celebrative type of post ?
Without making another useless list, I wanted to pay a tribute to the pioneers.
Most of them still around, who believed in this shift from the very beginning, when FinTech had to be explained (still has to, in some context, admittedly), when thinking of a startup working with a bank was in the best case a secret proof of concept in some remote place in the basement, and only ONE bank had a truly structured approach for Innovation and investment : CITI. But just starting.

Screen Shot 2015-11-03 at 05.50.29

I had a recent, long overdue, super refreshing catch-up conversation with a true friend, a gladiator as well and we were both observing some of the disappointing consequences of a booming trend : shallowness, irrelevance, lack of content, greed, luckily confined and absolutely not defining the current system, but for someone who has seen the whole story is – lets say – easier to spot and easier to get bothered by.

So this is a gladiator’s celebration.
The beauty of it is that the ones who were there to share these moments and many others I had no time to report here, will read this and smile.
The good news is that the last two hours of this flight literally went away without me noticing anything.

Let me finish with one of my favourite pictures, recently : Lazaro and I at our FinTechStage event, in Barcelona, with a very symbolic black t-shirt convergence.

11427854_1153366148013066_1725153134044542641_o

If you have met Lazaro already, you know why he has all the rights to be in this post.

Stay Tuned

Matteo

matteo-rizzi-omidyar-network

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

Matteo