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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Tower Hall

As promised… HNY to you all and Fintechstage ready to roll !

A little less than a month ago I posted – here – the first idea of FintechStage.com and took the month of December to set it up.
Now I give some more details. In a couple of weeks, we will open up the links to officially subscribe to the event (in any case, you would have better things to do then thinking about it on a Jan 1st, right ..?)

The news :

1- We have secured the venue. It is nothing else than the most photographed building of Milan, the Unicredit Tower and its beautiful Tree House.
One of the most beautiful co-working open spaces I have seen… EVER !

2- We have finalised the program and the streamlined version is :

  • March 30th Morning : InvestmentLab, moderated by a lawyer, a live simulation of a deal between a start-up and an investor, plus some Business model Canvas , plus some pitch advice. This is OPEN TO ALL STARTUPS, not only Fintech and we have 150 seats available
  • March 30th Afternoon : Invitation-only meetings
  • March 31st All day : conference, aperitivo and party

3- There are a number of speakers already confirmed :

This list does not include yet the speakers from the Italian community (apart Riccardo from Unicredit), for which I will come back to you very soon.

4- The initial version of the Program of the plenary day :

Three panels :

**Incubators, Accelerators, Start-up programs 
– What’s in it for the banks ?
– How to create the right eco-system for it ?
– What are the measures ?
– Simply, how do you do it ?

**Innovation Panel
– Selling innovation internally
– Foster collaboration and picking champion
– Ok, now we have an Head of Innovation, so what ?

**VC Panel
– Where does the money go ?
– US vs London vs Rest of the world… Different perspectives
– How do we give the right values to a company ?
– How do we relate with banks in helping the companies grow ?

**10 Power Talks
Here are some of the topics :
– Alternative Lending
– New Banking Models
– Ubiquitous payments
– Next Gen Card Services
– Bank APIs and Open source (Innovation in insurance, Money management)

**Start-up Pitches : 10-12 start-ups with revenue, customers and a proven model will pitch to the community.
Once again, format of the pitches will be unusual : when possible, the Investor and the Start-up founder or CEO will be both on stage, explaining what the start-up value proposition is and why the company has been funded.

**Networking time, also during the Aperitivo, where meetings will be pre-arranged and qualified

 

What is the objective of FintechStage ?
Bring the best possible mix of players of the fintech industry from the Investors, Start-ups and Innovators (bankers) community, in a number of European cities (to start with) to help the innovation dialogue in a different way. 

How different ?
We like to think we know the feeling of going to conferences and being left with no personalized content, with the opportunity to enlarge your network left to your own initiative, with no or very little interaction. And we want to change this.

How about the “social” side of the conference ?
There will be an invitation-only dinner in the evening of the 30th, sponsored by CheBanca! and an aperitivo in the amazing Unicredit Tree House on the 31st.
Copernico, the big innovation co-working space just beside the main Milan train station, will host a post-event party where we hope we can consolidate all the good networking shared in the two days.

Next steps :

  • subscribe to the Start-up Investment LAB session of Monday morning, as of jan 15th we will send the link
  • as of January 15th, we will open the Eventbrite page to the event ticketing,
  • follow us on @fintechstage where we will post speakers announcements and other news,
  • the detailed program will be out soon and you will be the first to know…

Stay tuned and – again – lots of joy for next year !

Matteo

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SWIFT of data

Who will be the SWIFT of data?

I was using Uber during Sibos in Boston, asking myself why hundreds of people were queuing under the rain in front of the conference centre when Uber car were due to arrive in less than 5 minutes if only you were smart enough to move 100 meters away and wait for them in front of the hotel nearby. Then, once on board, the taxi driver said : “you are a five stars customers” (rated by the drivers) and in certain countries you get free rides if you are consistently rated 5 stars…

Now, regardless the upside to get free rides, which in the big scheme of things sounds irrelevant, there is a bigger reflexion here : the shared economy gives you a new scale of trust that can be used in many circumstances.

As many frequent travellers with a NON unlimited budget (one of the very positives sides of living a corporate life, and having lived both I can definitely compare) I also use Airbnb, which I hope I don’t have to describe here, not to undermine how aware are my readers…
And will give a try soon to BlaBlacar, simply because I am spending way too much money in airport/train stations cabs and parking (especially in the Brussels Midi station parking often more expensive than the train itself !).

If you add to this my numerous deal on Amazon, Ebay, Booking.com and my mileage data on my frequent flyer(s) card(s) there is enough data to proof with a decent degree of certainty whether or not I am a good customer, whether or not I am nice to people in general or which lifestyle I am living (as I tend not to share a room in a busy apartment but to have a place to myself).
Funny enough, all these data are potentially available on my mobile phone as well.

Now, if I had a Kenyan citizenship and was a customer of M-pesa, the financial data you could extract from my phone (my mobile wallet) would be even more compelling for my financial solvability and my capability to borrow money as well.

This explains, in my humble opinion, the crazy valuation of these large shared economy players. I think investors are betting – simply – on these data being the best possible way to disrupt the way trust is given – or taken away – to people.

Is that simple.

The moment where ANY large corporation can apply this new trust dimension with a collateralised financial instrument, it will become the fastest, cheapest and more secure way to exchange value.

There is only one thing missing here : the SWIFT of data.

Only a not for profit, global organisation could be trusted as a super-partes data repository or at least data processor, no commercial entity could do it, at least on a global basis…for the same reason why few decades back the global standard body for the financial industry was created.

By the way, the model here would be exactly the same : data would be controlled by a neutral counterpart, and everyone would be allowed to build the services for the community (the Humanity being the customer, in this case) on the top of it.

A trustable, loyal, smiling and community-recognised person has the big advantage to become the best possible customer from any single potential provider in the world, regardless his or her credit score, bank history or less-than-three-months-old utility bill.

The question is : when ?

Often the answer is “not soon enough, let’s fill up my pockets and get to my pension as rich and powerful as possible” … that explains the lengthy and cumbersome road to financial innovation.

Stay tuned.

Matteo

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