Moving On Up: Futuristic Finance in Latin America

people watching webchat
A group looks on during the live webcast at the Centro Colombo Americano, in Medellin, Colombia.

‘FinTech, the Future of Finance’ Webcast Recap

Fintech — an emerging term that describes technology that delivers financial services. Fintech was the subject of the latest Global Innovation through Science and Technology (GIST) TechConnect live webcast on June 12, 2018. Viewers from around the globe tuned in to learn how their startups could benefit from fintech, in areas from receiving digital payments to managing financial accounts.

For entrepreneurs, technological advancement is transforming the digital landscape into an efficient space that eliminates logistical barriers for business, enabling businesses to instantly reach customers while enhancing their own economic prosperity.

The live panel of experts discussed how “The Fintech Revolution” is helping entrepreneurs around the world by making financial transactions easier, cheaper, faster, and more secure. They answered questions from social media and gave a broad overview of the current innovations in everything from blockchain solutions to machine learning and utilizing mobile technology in areas where traditional banking isn’t easily accessible. As a whole, the fintech movement has evolved into a sector of its own, where advancements in the field can now help entrepreneurs both inside and outside of the tech realm take advantage of the speed and ease that fintech innovations offer. The panel included industry experts Dale Nirvani Pfeifer from GoodWorld, Viktor Brandtneris from Brandtneris Consulting, and Samer Yousif from VentureWell, with facilitation by Foreign Service Officer Lauren Gibson.

Check out the video clips below to see some of the main topics discussed during the chat.

To start us off, what’s an innovation in the field that you find interesting?

Pfeifer: The growth in both digital payments and digital wallets highlights the seismic shift in global payments, which has been driven by commerce, especially on mobile devices. People now pay via their phones, or within apps, and yet they still visit brick-and-mortar establishments when convenient. This opens up a huge space for third-party technology providers to support digital transactions and better integrated customer service, especially where cash and checks are not the common medium of commerce any longer. Entrepreneurs can create tech companies to help fill digital payment needs, or instead partner with large financial institutions in a powerful way to help them become more innovative and bring those digital-seeking customers to them.

“We’re starting to see disintermediation…we’re taking institutions out of the chain where [as entrepreneurs] you’ll be able to interact directly with your customer…with your payment agent — because those agents that sit between the chain are all taking a fee.” – Viktor Brandtneris

What are the market drivers creating fintech?

Aspiring entrepreneurs looking for their place in the fintech industry should first look at market trends for gaps that need filled with a service or the ability to jump on a technological innovation that’s gaining popularity. Awareness of what is driving the market allows entrepreneurs to jump aboard the fintech space, especially in ways that will help their efficiency, customer reach, and user experience.

Pfeifer: The current forces that are driving market most include cloud computing, the rise of transactions via mobile devices, the reach of social media, a unique user experience, and the digital literacy of the millennial generation. Looking for rapid behavior changes in the market always creates great opportunity to drive new, innovative ideas. By looking at spaces where financial processes are tedious, those looking to get into fintech can help to streamline and pull out inefficiencies within the market.

Will traditional banks disappear?

Brandtneris: Though there is a lot of talk in this space, banks are not going anywhere anytime soon. Banks are businesses, too. In fact, some of the largest banks are actually driving fintech advances. For example, fintech within large financial institutions is helping small business owners access credit and blockchain enables instantaneous investing in new ventures. Financial institutions are certainly nervous about what the future holds, but there are many unknowns playing out in this space.  One thing is certain: the role of banks is going to need to become a lot more efficient.

What is the short, mid-range, and long-term utility of fintech tools?

Brandtneris: In the short-term, fintech makes it online and mobile transactions easier with digital payments and digital wallets. It also is providing credit availability to those who have not had access to traditional banking institutions. As a result, it is now easier for entrepreneurs to start a business because they have better access to loans and investment.

In the mid-term, fintech makes it easier to securely interact online using ever-evolving blockchain innovations, which provides opportunity for fast and secure transactions, while building the trust of a customer base.

In the long-term, be prepared to see predictive artificial intelligence — which will better inform supply and demand, as well as streamline efficiency. That data is going to translate into changes in how we buy and how often we buy.

“If you’ve got a solution that can increase the efficiency of data management, you’re going to have a lot of people interested in your solution.” – Viktor Brandtneris

How can social entrepreneurs include fintech in their ventures?

This area has been largely overlooked for many years from the traditional financing world, particularly because it was thought that opportunities in social impact were not able to make the same revenue and capital gains as in the more traditional commercial sectors.  Now investors are changing the way they are thinking about “impact”. Many fintech opportunities are in approaching the efficiencies of cities; helping people with transportation, energy efficiency, and access to education through technology. All of these are impact opportunities!

Fintech innovations are experiencing an ever-increasing interest around the world, creating revolutionary new ways of doing business set the stage for what will be an exciting era of opportunity for entrepreneurs across the globe!