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.


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Fintech People. Batch One. Vintage 2014.

I decided to share and highlight few personalities I recently met, in the Fintech space, and explain why. It s obviously an ongoing process, as there are many people I would like to talk about. I am NOT reporting their CV here, you can easily look for any of them on LinkedIn, but more the serendipity moment that brought us together and the good vibes shared when we met.

This batch is about people I have met in the past 12 months, in no particular order.

1- Pascal Bouvier
Wine lover, fast mind, payments guru and a lovely guy. We met for the first time in 2014 as co-investors in Fintech Bootcamp, and immediately clicked. We share the passion for entrepreneurs and for this particular space, and I loved to be in a panel with him.
We were together in Fintech DACH, in Frankfurt, and he made one of the funniest jokes I heard live on stage. We had a French (him) an Italian (me) and a Spanish (Oriol from Erste Bank) talking to mostly German people,and Pascal, remarked: “first time France, Italy and Spain preaching something to the Germans” !

2- Matteo Stefanel
Matteo was born exactly 5 years after me, will turn 40 in 2015, same day as me.
We met in November 2014, only few weeks ago, and this is what I call serendipity (and he confessed he would have described it the same way). Matteo has a very similar story to mine, Italian deep roots but world citizen for the past 20 years. I love his pragmatism, respect a lot his background and admire the way he has conducted business so far.
I believe the Fintech investors world will hear a lot about him in the coming months.

3- Thomas DeLuca
Not an investor, but a multiple times entrepreneur. Deep knowledge of the payments and credit space, now leading AMP, one of our portfolio companies.
We briefly met in Innotribe 2014 in Singapore, I was judging the Startup Challenge, and spotted Thomas immediately. If I think of a mature (business wise, although he s not a teenager anymore), solid, trustworthy, ambitious entrepreneur, Thomas fits the bill. Watch him! (no pressure dude)

4- Arjuna Costa
One of the few people I know travelling more than I do.
We met in the second half of 2014, then in Money2020 in Vegas and recently in London.
Arjuna is what I call an illuminated mind, willing to change the world. And he works for the perfect Organization (the Omidyar Fund) to make it happen. Humbleness combined with profound expertise and brilliant vision is something rare to find, and This is what Arjuna represents to me.
Financial inclusion is one of the smart keys to unlock people potential, regardless their status or geography, and is such a fascinating world, to which Arjuna clearly adds a tremendous value.

5- Christophe Chazot
I met Christophe in London, in his bank tower, in what started as a very “formal” business meeting. Talking about strategy, innovation, the challenge of dealing with start-ups, and so on. Then, I invited Christophe in the Venture Capital session at Sibos, in Boston, and we had some more time to connect, sharing some Uber cab, and having a drink together. I love how lucid Christophe is about innovation, and despite his huge experience in the banking business and his very high seniority in the firm, he listen, share, exchange with curiosity, and – thing that I love – he makes the difference between bullshit and meaningful innovation. Look forward to do more business together, especially given the fact that the institution he works for has a great deal of scale when it comes to implement new ideas.

6- Derek White
Only met Derek at Sibos this year, same session as Christophe.
Derek is the archetype of a successful entrepreneur successfully dealing with innovation in a large bank (the repetition is on purpose). If he does not pronounce the name of his (very large) bank, you could say you are listening to the CEO of a very successful incubator, with multiple exits or life customers on board. Love his energy and style (not only because we have the same hear cut) and praise banks to hire more and more people like him if they want to cope with change

7- Riccardo Prodam
Riccardo falls – in my opinion – in the same category of Derek. We met only a couple of weeks ago, he is in charge of everything related to innovation, research,start-ups and tech trends for a very large Italian (and international) bank. I can t say we know each other well enough, but instinctively I respect him a lot for the challenge he took over.
Banks need people who deeply understand technology, is a fact. But most of the time they are isolated, far away from the business. Riccardo has the merit and the opportunity to combine the understanding of the technology and the influence and the executive endorsement (with the necessary flexibility) to make it happen.

I am flying to Dubai while I am writing this post, and after these seven mini-portraits realise that my objective is not to make any ranking based on importance, influence or personal return (not that this would change anything for anybody, not even if I had a million followers).
I am not doing it either to show off, because I would probably come out with a very pitiful image.

I want to talk about serendipity.

Obviously I am restricting the people I talk about for the purpose of this blog, which is about Fintech.
Maybe what I am trying to find out is the answer to the following:
what are the ingredients of serendipity?

I am stopping here until next batch, because 7 is a biblical number and because food has arrived in the plane now … Stay tuned, of course 😉


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