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

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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).

 

Note#1
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.

 

Note#2
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.

 

Note#3
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.

 

Note#4
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 www.FTSInclusionForum.com 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.

 

Note#5
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

 

Matteo

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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.

https://blog.digi.me/2016/09/27/omidyar-network-investment-completes-digi-mes-series-a-at-5-3m-7m/

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 : http://innovationschool.talentgarden.org/tag-books/) 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

Matteo

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Scattered Chronicle of the last Eight Weeks

There is a reason why I have been silent for the past eight weeks. Not that I am presumptuous enough to think anyone noticed that, but sometimes I remember this is my way not to loose touch with the rest of the world about what’s happening to me, not to mention the fact that my kids one day could potentially wonder what dad was doing beside coming and going with his trolley. (as a side point, I think the noise of the luggage wheels entering the house and getting out will probably be the most remembered sound related to Dad they will ever have).

To start with, we did run two great FinTechStage events in May, Milan and Amsterdam (which explain why April was quietly upgrading to an hectic time, because – of course – shit happens and you need to deal wit it). We can safely say both events were successful, from what we could gather from the partners, the sponsors, the audience and the speakers. On thing we have to do better is find a smart way not to loose all the good content FTS is bringing to the different eco-systems.

I will shamelessly point you guys to an amazing post my friend Daniel Gusev (who spoke in Amsterdam) wrote about the event, and I can only be grateful for being so exhaustive and thoughtful in creating this.

We do have ideas on how to capture the fil rouge of all the events we do, and build services around it, and you will hear about it very soon.

I also spent a week in San Francisco (beginning of May) with everyone at Omidyar, in my first ON Summit.

Amazing experience: I went there thinking I would be amongst the very few knowing only a handful of people, and realised there the organisation has grown so much in the last twelve months that at least three dozens of people were there for the first time as well! I am very humbled to be part of such a group, not only because of the mission we share, but most importantly because it s constant reminder – for me – of a different way of building businesses, empowering people, both with for profit and not for profit initiatives, and it was overwhelming as well to realise the spectrum of activities ON is involved with, some of which really triggered a whole new world.

Let me give you an example: I discovered what the Property Rights division does. To be fair, as well WHAT Property Rights even means. Had no idea that over a billion people are concerned by the fact that there is no proper and factual record of their properties (land, houses, etc) with all the terrible consequences that such a matter has on their lives. ON is amongst the few organisations in the planet investing resources and research power to tackle this global issue, where of course technology has a great role to play (think of drones to assess land perimeters, etc).

Immediately after that, I spoke both at the CGAP annual meeting and et ICT Spring Luxembourg, two events fortunately for me overlapping each other but making these three days particularly intense, especially because  in the case of the CGAP event (CGAP is an Independent policy and research center dedicated to advancing financial access for the world’s poor) I discovered a whole new network of organisations driven by the same mission (make the world a better place, for lack of a better definition).

It does not happen very often I go to a conference where I don’t know a single speaker, and almost never where I don’t meet someone I have seen before in other place. Well, this time – no doubt – was an exception on all of it.

Another important part of last weeks activity flipped around the work ON is doing in defining an investment thesis on Digital Identity and what it s called the Me2B space. A simple way to explain the latter is how can we put the user (the customer, everyone of us, in other words) in control of his own data and find new economics around the sharing of these data with potential suppliers of services that de facto – today – are getting it for free. I am writing this post from London, where we are visiting a number of players in this space and craft the right strategy around it.

Lastly, I am writing a book,(yes, a book)  in Italian, about FinTech, that will be part of a collection produced by the Bocconi University (I think, this is what I have been told). I am just mentioning it as this is what definitely filled up all the little spare time I usually take to write my posts. Book is almost over, only two chapters remaining, will hopefully tell you more before the really summer starts. Summer starts the day I go to Sestri Levante, of course, before then it s just normal busy time in a short sleeves black t-shirt instead of long ones!

Stay tuned

 

Matteo

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