FutureIsOurs

Life after SBT… 2016 here I come !

By now is public knowledge I am no longer with the SBT Venture Capital fund, as Anna rightly pointed out. It looks like I am not the only one moving to new endeavours.

I suppose it’s understandable, now that FinTech has become so hype and witnessing its rise from the very beginning, I am ok with experimenting more. Actually I am not done yet in figuring all of it.

I would like to start by being grateful and mindful of the great change that SBT brought to my professional life, understanding what I love and skilful for and what makes my brain sleep and my motivation down.

2015 was also the first year of FinTechStage, built from scratch in January, and with 3 events in Milan, Barcelona and Buenos Aires, I discovered a way to bring the FinTech community together in a way that gives me energy and the willingness to do more. The program for 2016 starts with Luxembourg, then Italy again, Spain again, and will add few cities which will be announced soon. 

Related to FinTech there is something else in the making : TALNT.pro

I realized that there is a growing need for short term, very focused and talented FinTech expertise that traditional players are struggling to find. Few experiments led me to think that an almost 10 years old network in this field is an invaluable asset to help filling the gap. I am sharing this in total opened knowing the only thing done is the intention and a kick ass domain name, but we will launch it in one of our next FTS events.

Another great chapter started at the end of last year is my advisory role for The Omidyar Network, which reveals to be a fascinating experience.

The quest for sector impact investments, the approach to financial inclusion and financial wellness both in emerging and developed markets and a structure that is build to bring so much more than money to the invested companies – I only collaborate with the for profit financial inclusion business of ON, but there is also a very articulate work done by the foundation arm – is not only a huge learning experience in this vertical FinTech space, but also a discovery journey on how financial inclusion is not only about rural areas of third world countries but extremely relevant to the rest of the world as well.

It looks like the pace of the talks, the coaching and more and more short term consulting mission I am called to deliver is not slowing down, amid I am mindful of the fact that some rationalisation of it should take place. I am not very good to say “no” or maybe I underestimate what it actually means to say too many “yes” and I would say this is a clear learning pattern for me to chase, this year.

I am WOL – Writing Out Loud – right now, but maybe I should privilege and focus on missions and engagements targeted to build communities, rather than commercial workshops serving a specific brand ?

There is also a easily spotted gap in the FinTech VC space in Europe. Many CVC from large banks have either morphed in a more strategic and less capital risk philosophy, whilst mid-sized banks are either passive or have little means to engage with the FinTech startups. 

In every transition period, the best way is to start listening, carefully, starting by listening to yourself and pay attention to those little sign that might help you choosing your next mission.

This is what I am doing right now : start engaging with what seems to be either most promising or too interesting to let go. 

My corporate life seems decades ago and it’s only a little more that 2 years since I have decided to completely change my professional settings. I take this as something amazingly positive. 

So more than ever, stay tuned!

Matteo 

Read More

FinTechStage Buenos Aires – how amazing is this ? #soproud

Mauricio Macri, major of Buenos Aires, made it to President.

Most of us, me for sure, don’t know what it means to live in a country where political and economical crisis are dominating the scene so heavily, that it affects your perception of hope and – especially with an expatriate lens – makes you look back at your home with a bitter sense of impotence.

We are running FinTechStage in Buenos Aires in exactly 3 weeks and it’s a good example of FinTech is driving part of the change there.

Our friends from NXTP Labs – very successful accelerator mainly operating in Latam, but also in Israel and Ireland – are launching their first FinTech batch and partnered with FinTechStage to deliver an international event.

The agenda is here : http://fintechstage.com/fintechstage-buenos-aires/agenda/

Obviously Financial Inclusion is one of the topics of the conference and Omidyar Network is sponsoring the event as well.

I am really happy to gather together with my Argentinian friends Mariano Belinky and Gustavo Vinacua. I am also very thankful to Santander Innoventures and BBVA to support the event. There are plenty of other local sponsors. I already thank them all and can’t wait to meet them.

We have now 300+ delegates already registered.
If someone would have told me in its first year of existence that FinTechStage would have run 3 events in 2 continents, I would not have believed it. It’s an interesting model, whereby FTS puts its brand and build up the agenda bringing international speakers, and the local partner uses the conference to either launch a FinTech initiative or simply to start creating a community around financial services innovation.

It is the last conference of the year – very intense one – and I can’t wait to spend time with the kids (after of course the wrap up blog of the conference).

Stay tuned

 

PS : the picture features Avenida 9 de Julio, the largest avenue in the world.

 

Matteo

 

 

 

 

 

Read More

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

Read More

Perth_Slide

Wonder what happened in Perth ?

Perth is a two million village in west Australia, with mild winters and great summer (when is cold over here in Europe, which makes it even more attractive).
I was invited by the IFC to moderate a technology showcase in the context of the preparation meeting for the G20 of the financial ministers.

Some Perthness here ..

IMG_0107.JPG

A more complete description of these event follows here:

The Responsible Finance Forum is a two-day, invite-only event will focus on Responsible Digital Finance. It will convene industry, government, and private sector leaders to discuss how digital financial services are delivered transparently, fairly, and safely. The RFF V organizers include BMZ/GIZ, CGAP, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, IFC, The Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs, The Better Than Cash Alliance, The MasterCard Foundation, UNCDF and the World Bank. I am on the first panel of the second day, themed “Responsibility in Action” and moderated by Matthew Gamser of the IFC.

http://responsiblefinanceforum.org/event/rffv/

The Technology and Innovation for Financial Inclusion Expo (30 Aug) is organized by the SME Finance Forum, in conjunction with the Annual GPFI Plenary and Forum 1-2 September 2014, to showcase some of the promising emerging technology solutions that have the potential to accelerate financial inclusion for households and businesses. This event will offer opportunities to fintechs and other participants to interact directly with G20 representatives and for the G20 representatives to gain exposure to the work of a select group of emerging technology companies. AMP will be the first company to present in this expo.

The Global Partnership for Financial Inclusion (GPFI) Plenary and Forum (http://www.gpfi.org/) on 1st Sept is an annual high-level event which aims to engage a select group of leading private sector innovators, global policymakers, and thinkers to discuss and influence critical aspects of the G20 financial inclusion agenda. This year’s forum will focus on the impact of digital financial services. The widespread adoption of digital payments in all their forms, including international and domestic remittances, can be instrumental in increasing financial inclusion. Moving away from cash to digital financial services can also contribute to the G20’s goals of women’s economic empowerment and inclusive economic growth. I will be on the panel on Innovation, led by the Markets and Payments Systems Subgroup.

Panel with Mark Pesce & C (yes, informal dress code and I took it literally, not that it was a huge effort)

IMG_0106.JPG

Meet the Startups participating at the event:

Advanced Merchant Payment (AMP), Presenter: Thomas Deluca, CEO
Copsonic, Presenter: Christian Ruiz, COO
KlickEx, Presenter: Robert Bell, CEO
Mantis, Presenter: Harald Hirschhofer, CEO
Oxygen, Presenter: Rajpal Duggal, CEO
Quisk, Presenter: Dan Glessner, Chief Marketing Officer
Ripple: Presenter: Karen Gifford, Chief Compliance Officer
Verde International, Presenter: Patrick Reilly, CEO

Chat rooms for the Startups:

IMG_0108-1.JPG

Now, the why …

It s what I would call a very valuable, non conventional financial services network, focused on financial inclusion.
These technology showcase have the purpose to make the public and private sector to meet and exchange, and I humbly added some “speed dating” shale to it, in order to maximise the exposure of the Startups to the crowd.

I loved everything of it, including the very informal beer and drinks in front if the ocean, with. 4000 km beach left and right … At the menu, as written in the welcome note of the bar, “beer, food, friends and sunset”. Just love Australia.

IMG_0109.JPG

Matteo

Read More