2017 notes to self

It has been a while guys.


I promised myself to blog twice a month this year, but only if I have something interesting to share (at least to my judgement) : I am very tempted to start writing about something else than FinTech or at least balance that with something more engaging.
I will not spit on the plate I eat (free translation from Italian and if this expression does not exist it should) because Innovation in Financial Services is something I love, so maybe what becomes boring is that everyone seems entitled to grasp a bite of it.
And it is more and more difficult to separate substance from mindlessness (but I already blogged about that).


Building tribes has always been my passion and somehow my destiny : Italiansonline, then the SWIFT Community, then Innotribe, now FinTechStage.
My work at Omidyar Network has a lot to do with that as well. We actually added another component of the work in 2017 which specifically speak about Eco-system Development.
Someone would say “Is that even a thing ? Eco-system Development ?”
If you ask the majority of the FinTech, InsurTech, RegTech lists popping around like mushrooms, everyone will unanimously say “Hell yes !”, and possibly saying it is entirely or partially what they do.
If you ask large corporations, or financial institutions, or Insurance groups, or the Big10 Consulting companies, all of a sudden seems clear there is (more often than not) no such a figure. Most of the time there is someone doing that function, but his or her job title says something else and this role is not something he or she is measured on.
Most people do not understand that is not about you, is about the Tribe : you can write a book and have one million readers who bough your masterpiece, but you are not their leader, nor they are  your tribe. They might want a selfie with you, but you are not building the network. You are using it. The risk of it is that you become slave of your own novelty, because you need to keep finding reasons for these selfies continuing to happen.
Building eco-systems requires a depth and a selfless attitude and the business comes then naturally because no one is more valued that the kind of person who builds bridges.


I will become better at sharing what I learn and find the right context to amplify that.
This goes beyond FinTech and has to do with self development, lifestyle, entrepreneurship structuring, relationships.
I want to contribute, even if for a fraction of it, in helping people to become a better version of themselves. And I want to get the tools to do it.
More on this, but it has to do with depth (or the lack of it).
When all you can say about a person is the company he or she works for and eventually the job title because saying it implies which role he or she can have in helping you making more money, not only you are not owning that relationship, but you can’t count on it.
I want to surround myself with as many people as possible (no matter where they are physically) knowing each other as a person, not as a business entity. The only way to do this is to give them time, for free, with the sole purpose to open up reciprocally.


I will perfect Portuguese and explore Lisbon (my new home and the country with it), because I want to add another soul. In order to do that, I need to be more disciplined about my travel and get space for myself and my loved ones.
I have the serious intention to build 2 businesses in Portugal.
One related to FinTech and entrepreneurship (there is very little in this space, despite Portugal smartly took the Tech spotlight hosting WebSummit and making some amazing simplified company building initiatives for Start-ups).
The second initiative is to build on another passion I have : the real estate (which has overlap with the first one, because my very first  real estate investment could become a FinTech hub. I just need to find the right partners for it.


FinTechStage has to go deeper and vertical.
After Luxembourg (March 1st), the first FinTechStage Inclusion Forum will take place in Jakarta, March 22-24th, go to and have a look.
Then, 4-5 May, FinTechStage Milano doubles down with InsurTech. We partnered with probably the best connected person in the space, Matteo Carbone, so another Matteo joined the family and I really hope we will build many more events of this kind together.


Building Tribes for Omidyar Network is one of the most rewarding experiences ever. I want to help ON changing the world. This note is to remind myself to be grateful everyday for this opportunity.
If you read my blog that far without getting bored, you earned a free pass to come to Jakarta. reach out to me and will personally send you an invitation 🙂


Stay Tuned



More FinTech hecticness

There is a reason why I have been so quiet lately. Truth is that since my last post (here), I had a very hard time in keeping track of everything that happened.

I am actually grounded by an historical cold, the first of this year and between one drug and another manage to at least make a little summary.

Finally, I can announce that the deal I was talking about is now completed and announced.

It is not only very exciting but an impressive learning curve for all of us as a team, rapidly gearing up for more activity in this space in 2017.

On another note, we successfully managed out first FinTechStage conference in Chicago, hosted by BAI (Banking Administration Institute) in a very successful rebranding of their annual gathering.

BAI Beacon 2016 was a first of its kind, and I must say a format I have never seem before, with 8 simultaneous stages (of which FinTechStage was the largest one) and with a creative controlled chaos that adjusted itself joining the course of the conference for the 1300+ attendees.

Back from Chicago, the roadshow to present FinTech Revolution, my first book, (for more details : took place in Milano and Rome and immediately after went to Johannesburg  for 48 very intense hours speaking at the Indaba Conference, that hosted the African FinTech awards.

How can you possibly resume 6 planes, 3 trains, 40 hours of travels in 2 lines only, but that’s how it was.

Another great news of this month is the opening of the FinTechStage Innovation Hub in Sestri Levante, where we opened both a physical office but most importantly launched a series of initiatives to build, develop and foster the Italian Fintech eco-system.

We have now dedicated ressources helping financial institutions, technology partners, startups and venture capitalists to create a virtuous circle of though leadership, education and training, entrepreneurship and coaching focused on the Italian market.

I think there is no better explanation of what the mission of FinTechStage is, starting with events to put the community together and then investing ressources to become the catalyst of that community.

I am officially announcing that next year (in the summer, so that the Sestri Levante location asset will be very difficult to beat) we will be holding the first Italian FinTech Leaders summit, gathering compatriotes from all over the world to create a community that will help the Italian eco-system to grow.

I realise that each one of these news could a post on its own, but bear with me I will eventually do that. Remember, this is also a diary for my kids one day to figure out why dad was so often on the road.


PS : picture is celebrating my great friend Roberto, who we invited in Sestri Levante as well and we took the opportunity to have a double-book shot 🙂


Stay Tuned



Identity & Privacy for dummies

I never realized that 1.4 B people in this world don’t have any proof of identity, at all.

It’s incredible how something that looks so mindless, like showing your passport or simply being able to prove in real life that you are who you say you are, is actually impossible in other parts of the world.
We “lucky” guys in the developed world (using the commas on purpose) we have other problems : we are the constant target of many big companies, brands, organisations tracking our data and – in most cases – using then without our knowledge or consent.
Interesting enough, data protection (I mean the lack of)  is concerning a HUGE chunk of the population (7 out of 10 Britons, just to report the fastest data you can retrieve on Google – talking about data again :)) but not many of us know :
1) to which extent we can do something about it,
2) what are the real consequences,
3) what how deep and vaste is the amount of data “someone” has on us and many other basic questions.
Identity and Privacy goes hand in hand, in this hyper digitalised world.
WhatsApp made a big move, recently, disclosing the phone numbers to Facebook.
What happened ?
  1. we agreed to the n+1 Terms and Conditions we never read,
  2. few of us unchecked the box on WhatsApp settings allowing that data transfer to happen,
  3. few of us canceled WhatsApp from their phone (I know at least one of them and will probably read this post)
Truth is : and so what ?
WhatsApp has our numbers anyway, Facebook owns WhatsApp anyway, are are absolutely positive that this data porting won’t happen in any case ?
I am not.
Not even sure I have the means to detect it and even the day I will be vaguely suspicious, what weapons would I dispose (admitting I will have the perseverance to get to the bottom of it ?) ?
Our dear European Community came to play in this space, with the GDPR Regulation.
By May 25th, 2018, every corporate in the EU holding the smallest piece of your data will be not only obliged to give it back to you if you request it, but also demand an explicit consent if and when they need to use these data of yours for whatever purpose.
This brings to live a super interesting economic puzzle, because :
  • technically speaking, this is not a piece of cake, as the majority of the large stakeholders of our data were not specifically equipped to this
  • the costs related to this compliance measure have to be absorbed by the industry, and you can bet they will need to find a way to monetise that big shift they are enforced to implement
  • some of our data are extremely sensitive (heath data, financial data, medical records, etc) and their leakage (if now all of us become owners of our own data) can be potentially even more dangerous
I have been fortunate enough, recently, to work a bit in this space, curiously catching up with a number of great minds that back in 2009 worked together what we called at SWIFT, within Innotribe, the Digital Asset Grid (one of the coolest code names of a project ever, if you ask me).
Back then, the goal was to create a fully distributed, consent based personal data store empowering the individual to become the center of its own data world, and releasing the appropriate subset of these data to a counterpart that would have to ask an explicit authorisation to use/see the data.
Think of it : something that happens a lot in the US is to get ID verified before entering a club, to make sure you are over 18 (or 21) and are allowed to be served alcohol.
We, old guys, sometimes get ID’ed as well and we are so vey proud of it, it happened to most of us, but…WHY do I need to show my ID to demonstrate I am over 21 ?
In my ID, or passport, there are a number of details that are completely unnecessary to that verification. The only thing I need to prove in this case is that I am over 21.
SO why show also my date of birth, my nationality, my address, etc. ?
This is a very simple example of the un-matched offer and demand of data, related to a specific purpose.
I will write more about this subject, for the moment just letting you guys know (with my own words) why this matters to all of us.
The topic is incredibly vaste and articulate, as you can imagine with different problematics varying on geographies and business purposes.
What I can say, already, is that identity and privacy eco-system is gearing up in terms of nation-wide identity programs, startups entering the space, capital poured into technologies, and infrastructure innovations.
I almost managed to write the whole post without mentioning blockchain, but the time has come now : you cannot deal with identity and related data at scale without a distributed database (which is what most of distributed ledgers applications are, in simple words).
The technology exists for a while already, but it has finally reached a mainstream tipping point where truly scalable solutions can be implemented without the CIOs of the large organisations going out of their minds.
Beside the last maybe cryptical paragraph, I hope I achieved the objective of putting simple words around what I believe is going to take a good chunk of my time and brain cells going forward.
Stay tuned

To be a Nobody, Shamelessly. 

I am writing from my home town right now, surrounded by the magic colours and lights of the quasi September season.
If you were born at the seaside, you will understand that the weeks about to come are the most intensely charged with the essences of the summer season.

I recently came across a great Ted Talk from Witney Thore, “Living without Shame” and it opened up a similar reflection on myself.
Since I came out from the corporate world and in some sort became a free agent and an entrepreneur, the need for marketing myself has become important.
Get invited to speak to events – the more important and crowded the better -, be in this or that list, get your name on that famous influencers crowd and so on.
I also did write a book, soon to be published, in Italian, more on an opportunity that was presented to me than on a project born on my own willing, but still..


Recently, as many of us on the quite time of summer, I centered myself a bit and try to set up my next goals, not the tactical ones, but the more fundamentals and I realised my judgement is clouded, essentially by shame.


We need a step back here.


We all have superior capacity to reinvent ourselves in ways that are often unexpected.
I don’t want to get stuck in something simply because life pointed me at it and I happen to have found a decent space in it. I want to explore, to be bold, to create, to help, to give back, to change lives – mine included – for the better, to have impact, to learn constantly.
On of my dearest friends recently wrote me : ”I feel like I am living in a self perpetuating bubble, a discourse that feeds in its own hype leaving everyone on a low calorie diet…”
We do work in the same industry and I am lucky to have her in my life as a friend and as a soulmate. These words are a very thoughtful way to express this feeling as well.


So, back to us.
Here comes shame.


The shame of being a newbie, of not being at the center of some business radar, of simply not being seen.
As a result, you become a more or less conscious slave of that shame, in some case performing as a grotesque personage doing anything you can to be on the front stage, but in a trickier way precluding yourself to think, do and learn things that would – perhaps – enrich you in a deeper and more fulfilling way.
I want to get rid of every inch of that shame, of every nuance of that.


This is not money versus fame versus becoming Mother Theresa type of debate, in case someone misunderstood me.
This is about goals, self empowerment, true energy, loving what you do, and be brave enough to face what distracts you from becoming the best possible human being you can become.


I am reading this book – the first in a long time, as I usually devour blogs, short notes, documents and video, must admit – and it’s called “Breaking the habit of being yourself” written by Joe Dispenza.
 It’s a very intense book, and one of the chapters that fascinated me the most of is the one talking about the very common obsession of “being somebody” versus the “being a nobody”. Opposite to what common sense would tell, “being somebody” is a slavery feeling. Because it lets reality (or your perception of it) define you, whilst the state of “being nobody” stands for that self-centered mindset that allows to create your own reality, the person you want to be, with a limitless set of possibilities that you need to steer towards the directions you set, for yourself.
I have not finished the book, because I am reading at the speed that allows me to digest it, but that discourse resonates a lot to me.


Am I lost or desperate ? I don’t think so. I don’t feel so either.
I wanted to share this awareness or at least the beginning of it, of the necessity to let go that “being somebody” perception of myself because I want to be greater than that. I want to be shameless in re-thinking constantly my own reality, so that I can become that reality.


I hope this post makes sense to a few of you reading, but even if it doesn’t, I really felt I had to share this new beginning, if nothing else to try to put my words around it.


Stay tuned