fintech-revolution_matteo-rizzi

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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Ashley Madison and FinTech trends… Or A.I. for dummies

Taking back an old habit, I am writing from the plane after 48 hours in Tel Aviv, where I attended the great opening of the local FinTech Hub, The Floor, witnessing yet another bold project bridging Israeli (Fin)tech and Asia investments. (The largest investor in the initiative is Chinese).
A few people are talking about is Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) and the application in the FinTech space are extremely interesting. I actually did study AI at the university back 1992 I believe, but I suppose it s like comparing the MacBookAir with the Commodore 64 (but I only ever had the first one, I could not even judge :))
More people than will ever admit to be are aware of Ashley Madison website, the portal for extra-marital affairs. It s also (maybe not as famous as the Panama papers saga, but certainly more interesting to talk about) one of the most media reported hacks, of personal data in the digital area. What is REALLY interesting though is that the released data revealed not only a huge disproportion between male and female profiles (like 95% versus 5%) but also the fact that a good chunk of the females were allegedly fake, and managed by a (ro)bot. Tribute to one off my smartest friends, Ruth Polacheck, who gave me the inspiration for this and made me think of a fun way to tell the story.
A bot.
The proof that artificial intelligence is real and about to become mainstream.
Basic bots exist since decades already (after all we new something about it in Computer Science, it all started with the Turing Machine, right?) but only recently their use (and power) has started to expand.
A lot of us might have encountered Amy, the appointment scheduling bot, pretty smart in setting up calls and meetings without human intervention, or the simple Twitter bots that are automatically retweeting or like scoring to basic rules. Not very sophisticated, but you get the idea.
What A.I. has to do with FinTech and where are the use cases, beside cheating the cheaters and save some PA time?
Think of any repetitive tasks at various degrees of complexity, and the opportunity to delegate seamlessly and virtually reducing handover time to zero.
AI could be the building block of one of the biggest revolutions in the B2B space, especially in the SME arena.
Let me give you a concrete example : I have a small business, with basic accounting and the smallest the company the more structured the entrepreneur need to be in order to make sure the reporting, the bookkeeping and ultimately the tax filing don’t become the biggest nightmare ever.
There are hundreds of tools allowing you to scan receipts, file them, plenty of which I used and tried, but ultimately it s actually faster to put all papers in an envelope and ask someone to be the intermediary between you and the accountant.
What does not work is the fact that there is still a lot of human intervention, even if it means me scanning or taking a picture of the restaurant ticket.
The moment has come where smart bots can actually pull most of the stuff people is receiving through different channels, combine it with an ever-learning engine you can teach new things to, and they can become your best ally. To you and your (small) business, which is the market everyone is looking to crack.
We are likely to talk about this topic in of the next FinTechStage conferences, showcasing the first startups in this space.
Stay Tuned
Matteo

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How would you categorise FinTech Eco-systems?

A couple of days ago Lazaro, Mariela and I sat together and, treasuring the experience of the first 4 events with FinTechStage, we tried to spell out our mission, and the first thing we did was to define different Type of FinTech Eco-systems, to assess where the value we can bring reaches its best potential.

We came out with FOUR categories:
Disconnected
Disorganised
Organised
Recognised
1- Disconnected
In many countries there is some form of Startup gathering and related capital, and even a significant banking presence.
FinTech is more a “wave” they see being talked about, but there is no “go to” place to even have a meaningful discussion. Capital and Statups are definitely not focusing on FinTech, and at best there is a Meetup around a beer (I am not undermining here, it s actually a great excuse to have a beer :))
2- Disorganised
Up until only 12 months ago, this category (in developed countries) was by far the biggest.
In this type of eco-system you can easily identify the FinTech initiatives, either from financial institutions or private (sponsored) incubators and accelerators and few local gaterings on the topic.
Venture Capitalists have these countries on their radar, and often there is little “local” FinTech Capital available, mostly because the effort of local scouting is left to the goodwill of the global investors themselves.
Disorganised Eco-systems tend to set up local events mostly, for the very precise reason of getting together the different pieces of the system, and to exchange with other experts or listen to Chris Skinner they have to go abroad (Chris, I have stolen you a slide today, I making it up :))
3- Organised
The nuance between this category and the “Disorganised” one is actually very thin.
An Organised (FinTech) system has a local catalyst, and what we observed is that it usually works best when this role  is taken by some sort of super-nation, government or community backed (or linked) and in any case non-commercial, “super partes” body. Like Luxembourg for Finance, Holland Fintech, FinTech CH, Innovate Finance, FinTech France, FinTech HK and others.
A strong nuance between Disorganised and Organised eco-systems is the sense of sharing and collaboration, and i have a story about it.
FinTechStage is mainly a sponsorship based business, that s how it gets sustainable.
Whilst in certain countries having two big banks co-sponsoring the same event is just an utopia, on other places they are OVER  the “pissing contest” stage, and understand how the engagement with the start-ups, the investors, and the other innovators from the rest of the world is the right approach.
In our last event a government-backed organisation acted as the single point of contact with the entire financial community, to organise without doubt has been the best Fintech Event event in the country.
4- Recognised
London, New York.
Now, we have to make a difference between the Financial Services Centres and the FinTech Centre. For Singapore and Honk Kong, for instance, I am not sure – yet – what would matter the most.
This exercise was extremely helpful.
Discovering talent, bringing or build capital, bridging the different communities in for the Disorganised and the Organised Eco-systems and structure great content is what FinTechStage should do and what he does best.
Is not perfect, and we have plenty of ideas on how to make it better.
I have NOT nominated any of these (category 2 and 3) on purpose, I am expecting you reactions to figure out wether or not I made sense of it and – most importantly – where some of the countries of my readers might stand.
Italy, for example, was disconnected until two years ago, and is getting disorganised, which sounds rough but is actually a positive sign (and – of course – my opinion). Actually my almost omonym Prime Minister, that s a call for you. Well, there will be more YouTube video with your english sloppiness, but I have plenty myself 🙂
Stay tuned
Matteo

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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 

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