Maputo_Matteo-Rizzi

Maputo calling FinTechStage

I was invited last week to speak at the MozTech conference in Maputo.
After moving to Lisbon, destiny keeps me coming back to a Portuguese speaking environment and I am definitely in love with it.

Maputo is a thriving city, flirting with the Indian Ocean and this event was all about serendipity.
During our FTSInclusionForum in Jakarta I met Dr Esselina Macome and Aurora da Gloria Vaz Billa, the neo-director of FSDMoc and the Central bank payments infrastructure head respectively, and Esselina asked me to lead the first EVER FinTech panel in the country.

Mozambique is a 26 Million people country, with only 2M bank account and only 7 millions mobile phones. Half of the active population is off the digital and financial grid (Recalling this from conversation, but numbers are close to real and I am too lazy to google so you guys do it eventually pls ;)).
In other words, Mozambique is an enormous opportunity for financial inclusion and startups to thrive.

FSDMoc organised this panel with David Milligan from Maatchi (Tinder for Banks and Startups), Philip Ngarambe, the Co-founder of a value added Oyster for Ruanda, AC Group (with close to 100% of Kigali covered, a million people) Mercy Zulu from GoodWell and impact investor very active in Africa and Helder Buvana, the business development head of FSDMoc.

As you know by now, I have now devoted my time in building FinTech eco-systems, by bringing together what we believe to be the 5 pillars of each financial innovation initiative : the incumbents, the entrepreneurs, the venture capitalists, the regulators and the technology partners.

I believe we should add the academia as well, but more as a ground effort to educate the students and open their eyes, as the R&D of certain universities are part of the Tech enablers in my view.

FSDMoc organised a session with the students at the university, as an introduction to FinTech opportunities. It was really interesting to realise how differently the Millennials in emerging markets see banks and financial behaviours. More on that another time.

MozTech is by far the biggest tech gathering of the country.
Looks clear to me we need now to build a FinTech national initiative, which is why we – FinTechStage – have chosen Mozambique and Tanzania (where I went immediately after Maputo) to launch the FTS4Africa Enablers program. Branding aside (still under construction) the idea is simple : can we build catalysts of FinTech innovation, with all the 5 communities represented (see below) in as many African countries as possible, so that startups have a soundboard to thrive and grow, VCs will have a snapshot of the opportunities of the country in a single place and incumbents (with the blessing of the Regulator) can find ways to collaborate with the new players ?

Looks like we build the right ground to start working on it in Maputo and I hope we will be able to agree on concrete next steps soon.

Special thanks and kudos to the wonderful FSDMoc team for their kindness, flexibility and support in having me there!

Stay tuned

Matteo

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 

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

 

 

 

 

 

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