You’ve probably heard plenty of times, in different shapes and sizes, how the financial services industry is immersed in a period of digital transformation that challenges not only incumbents’ top and bottom line profitability, but also, in some cases, the mere existence of traditional players that are not able to adapt to consumer demands and technological advances. From the world’s most important financial centers like New York, London and Singapore to the globe’s leading startup hubs in San Francisco, Tel Aviv and Berlin, there is a wave of technology driven startups born every day that are competing head to head with financial institutions in spaces such as lending, payments and insurance, just to name a few.
Well, here’s something new: Latin America is not immune to this trend. From Mexico City to Buenos Aires, Santiago to São Paulo, with stops along Bogota, Lima, Quito, and almost any other city across the region, Fintech startups responding to local market needs are being founded at an incredible pace. At Finnovista we estimate there are close to 1,000 Fintech startups in Latin America covering a wide array of segments, markets, and geographies.
Some are mature, developed businesses having attracted VC financing from recognized Fintech investors from the US and Europe to scale and grow their businesses; others are early-stage startups still validating products, business models, and value propositions, looking to connect with the industry. Irrespective of the development stage these startups find themselves in, they all share a vision, a necessity and an obligation to capture an opportunity they themselves have identified to transform and improve the financial services industry in Latin America and beyond.
One of the biggest differences between Latin America and developed markets is the unbanked segment of the population. According to the World Bank, 49% of the population in Latin America does not have access to financial services, making financial inclusion a top priority for governments, development agencies, multilateral banks, and NGOs, among others. In Latin America, because financial exclusion is so prevalent in the region, up to 40% of Fintech startups monitored by Finnovista are addressing unbanked or underbanked segments of the population as their main customer, whether they be consumers or SMEs.
But there are more and greater differences that make the Fintech opportunity in Latin America unique, challenging and rewarding for Fintech entrepreneurs, VC investors and financial institutions alike: diverse financial regulation across borders, consumer & SME market size, VC funding gap and advanced technology adoption, just to name a few.
While the figures for the region are promising and the opportunity is immense, there is a long road ahead for Latin American Fintech startups and the local ecosystem they are operating in. Finnovista has partnered with Lendit USA 2017, one of the largest Fintech conferences in NYC and the world, and we are bringing the hottest Fintech startups from Latin America to explore and understand the intricacies of the Fintech opportunity in Latin America. Through our partnership with Lendit, we are bringing together five of the most promising Fintech startups from Latin America to explore the specific challenges and opportunities that make the Fintech opportunity unique. Alejandro Cosentino from Afluenta, Andres Villaquiran from Alkanza, Sergio Furio from Creditas (formerly Bankfacil), Jared Miller from Entrepreneurial Finance Lab and David Arana from Konfio will all join me on stage to share insights and real-life war stories of founding, funding, scaling and growing Fintech startups in 5 different countries from across Latin America.
If you are interested in attending, register HERE with our special VIP partner code Finnovista2017USA for a 15% discount. Hope to see you in NYC on March 6 & 7!
Andres Fontao is Co-founder and Managing Partner of Finnovista, where he has pioneered fintech events, startup competitions and bank-sponsored open innovation programs throughout Europe and Latin America under different brands, including Next Bank, Innotribe and BBVA Open Talent brands. Prior to starting finnovista, Andres spent time with a Silicon Valley-based fintech start-up leading expansion into Europe and LATAM. Before that, he was head of mobile banking at Bankinter. Andres has also worked as a consultant to mobile operators in Europe and Mexico. Andres holds a BA from Middlebury College in Vermont (USA) and MBA from IE Business School in Madrid.