FinTechPersona

FinTech Persona

My first attempt of a post written with my IPhone.
FinTech right now looks like the Klondike gold fever, where everybody with a hat ran to the river and over excitingly look for a piece of that mirage everybody else was chasing.
I am no different, of course, aside from the fact that I went to that river much earlier than the rest of the racers, when very few even knows what exactly to look for.

Interestingly, this world is following the most classical path, with very specific Persona :
the Specialist : usually trying to set up a consulting firm selling to the few they know extremely well and using it as a proof of concept to eventually scale a business,
– the Converted : Ex bankers finally realising that banks won’t change from inside and either join a Specialist or move to a start-up,
– the Evergreener : if you saw Level39 full of dust and with no windows or if you saw TransferWise at Innotribe, you are one of them. The challenge here is how to stay relevant without repeating yourself and keep playing the “I am a pioneer” card which after a while is not bringing you very far,
– the Collaterals : interesting one. There are loads of mentor, coaches, wannabe startup advisors, wannabe help-to-raise players and most of them are swinging around the different accelerators and incubators because that’s their natural playground for this,
– the Radicals : some Fintech Wolves, rather solitary, are betting on the disruption only and they find intellectual reward by assembling all possible evidence of it. Some of them is very weird, but not dangerous,
– the LateComers : usually financial institutions, they feel the need to do something about Innovation and bravely stand up for it, not always fully understanding what really is going to influence their institution, but conscious that someone need to look at this somehow,
– the Politicians : FinTech is their game to make a whole geography cooler, smarter or simply not struggling behind everywhere else. It’s the FinTech Throne that matters,
– the Predators : regardless at which stage you enter the game, if you have enough money you are always welcome and have a seat at the table. These ones, without the money, would be totally irrelevant.
– the Aggregators : incubators, accelerators, Start-up programs, glorified co-working spaces, FinTech brands, usually as good as the network of the aggregated founders is and from very local to very global,
– the Guevara’s : fascinating small group of people using FinTech wave to change the world, but – if you look deeper – to change THEIR world first. Nothing wrong with it, because they create a lot of good vibes in the process.

I could recognise myself in a few of these and the reason for me to write this post comes from two, very important considerations :
I want to stay relevant,
I don’t want to get bored and or generate boredom.

As already mentioned few times before, I found myself at ease when ANYTHING is at the peak of its creativity, when no one is really bothering (yet), because this is where the challenge is more rewarding.
In a few decades from now, this will be reminded as “the time when it all started”.
By then, if – collectively – we are smart enough – financial services will be a commodity in terms of access, a new global system in terms of value (probably not the money) and certainly much more inclusive.

Stay tuned.

Matteo

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FinTech Stage Milan March 2015 30 & 31

FinTechStage in images. Tribute to an amazing event.

As you can imagine, I needed a couple of – resting and sleeping – days after 4 very intense days of FinTechStage.

It’s time to debrief, to celebrate, more important to say thank you and – needless to say – to move forward to the next one. Because the one lesson learned from Milan is that FinTechStage hits the right spot : local FinTech community meeting the international one and building new catalysts of Innovation.
Exactly what happened in Milan.

DAY -1
We started with a week-end of preparation with Ioana and Mariela, drafting the networking wall and the running order…between some pizzas and ice scream 😉

DAY 1
On the morning we had over 80 people and some 50 start-ups attending the crash course to help them understand how to negociate a deal and how to pitch to an investor.
Mircea, Andrew and Tom did an amazing job in preparing the tuition. At the end, we even made Mariano jumping on stage in a very animated Q&A session with the entrepreneurs.

In the afternoon, we gathered Investors, Start-ups eco-systems and Innovators (from banks and insurances).
We ran a networking workshop to make sure the 3 communities had the chance to discuss topics compelling to their own spaces, as well as to get to know each other in a smaller group.

Day 2
The agenda had a clear “fil rouge” :
– understand where FinTech Investors are putting their capital today,
– cover where Innovators from banks thought the investments should go and are not today,
– define how start-ups and financial institutions can work together.
This was the debate of the 3 panels we had.

Italian and international start-ups had also a place on stage. Not looking for capital, but for customers and new business. We explored 2 important themes, inspired by a keynote, featuring 7 start-ups in the related field, payments and banking models disruption and capital markets, in this case, both relevant for the Italian market.
Also start-ups went on stage with their investor. The latter explaining why they put their money on that particular company.

The remaining slots were filled up by what I would call inspirational conversations on financial inclusion and new ways to approach payment disruption. People loved it.

Organisation and infrastructure
Just Amazing.
From the venue, to the great apero party on Monday evening, sponsored by CheBanca! in Talent Garden, to the perfectly arranged plenary room and Tree House of UniCredit. (video linked)

Perfect gorgeous sunny day, feeling like summer.

Media coverage
To report a sentence from Ioana, FinTechStage had a media cover like a Led Zeppelin concert. And it’s true.
Articles and some very nice videos flooded. See some samples here.

Doing good
I announced in the closing remarks our funding of 10 students from the University of Makelele, in Kampala (Uganda). I don’t think I explained myself well enough. Reason being I simply felt too overwhelmed by emotions. Kosta, who knows me well, sent me an SMS saying “I bet I missed some tears” and he was close :D.
The idea is to finance this project instead of give the speakers a token for their time as I already wrote previously – here – in my blog : changing the world one person at the time.

Networking
The networking wall was something that most of the attendees had never seen before.
Mariela deployed close to one kilometre of thread to show the connections between people, topics and attendees.
Pictures flooded on that wall !

Finally, least but not last… A huge thank you to my partners in this fantastic adventure :

Mariela for the design, the wall, her creativity, for being my shadow during the whole event and to be so good to find a walk around to anything.

Ioana, for being so fantastically available all the time, for her precious gathering data skills, for her permanent smile and for being always – always – there.

Lazaro, for being crazy enough to jump with me in this adventure, for his support, for stepping up when needed, and for his constant, invaluable advice (for persuading me to do things I would not have done, that revealed themselves to be a REALLY good ideas afterwards).

 

Ehm, forgot to say, March 31st was my 45th birthday. I never celebrate, but this one will be unforgettable.

The next FTS date ? Coming our soon enough.

Stay Tuned, for real.

 Matteo

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MPOS_Slide

MPOS business for dummies

I recently published a post – here – about Personal Finance Management tools (PFM).
MPOS (Mobile Point of Sale) have a lot in common with it, in my opinion.

What are they (to start with) ?
THINK SQUARE. Think of a device plugged into your phone to transform any mobile device into a payment processing device, to swipe your card, or to do chip & PIN.

IMG_0115.JPG

The number of startups into this market is very big. Crowded market.

I would like to think there is at least one startup or grown up company per developed country and in many places more then one.

The newest trend – a much wiser one – is now to do the same without device, seamlessly, an example of it being Mobeewave.

My point is : is this enough ?
Several banks have now tried to integrate MPOS in their Eco-system, many of them actually commercialising their own devices (partnering with a technology provider).
See here the example of Sabbadell
Granted : if a bank pushes. It might work.
In Italy, the government has enforced a law against “underground” economy and obliged all merchants to have an electronic way to execute payments (read about it here).
Granted : of legislation pushes, it might work.
My point : just not enough.

Devices will become a commodity and all you do is to move same old payments through a new system. If you don’t combine it with real innovation, you are just replacing a device (granted, with a cheaper, already in the market, and faster).
What do I mean by “more” ? Loyalty programs would be a good example.
Not only card loyalty, but consumer loyalty. Buy 10 pizzas have 1 free or being able to pay a pizza with your miles, for example.

Every single MPOS player claim that the DATA will be a mainstream source of revenue for them, as the information they will collect will be unprecedented. It should not only generate new business for financial institutions, but for insurances, or simply raise financial inclusion particularly in developing countries.

Another interesting angle of this debate is to figure out where MPOS have better chance to flourish. One could argue that developed countries could use this technology to develop their networks of small merchants, fight against black economy and money laundering. You could also think of it as a way to promote financial inclusion in countries where in practice there are no other form or payments outside cash. The debate is open.

What is certain, is that MPOS is a very high cash burning business, by nature (not to mention the fact the the biggest factory producing these devices are in China and I believe the biggest is the same one producing all iPhone components), therefore it has to find quick other form of monetisation, and most importantly sync up with the pace at which banks will be able to adopt it.

Stay tuned

Matteo

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