Fintech Conference 2017: More than 450 Latin American innovators gathered in Bogotá

On October 13, and for the third consecutive year, the Regional Fintech Conference took place. The 2017 edition, organized by NXTP Labs with the support of Colombia Fintech, brought together 450 attendees, including entrepreneurs, investors, Fintech innovators and leaders of the banking and financial industry of Latin America in Bogota, Colombia.

The meeting began with a welcome address from the event’s hosts, Catalina Gutiérrez, Operations Manager of NXTP Labs in Colombia, and David Alvo, General Manager of NXTP Labs in Chile. Andrés Albán, a senior member of Colombia Fintech’s board of directors, also gave an introduction to the event’s topics and thanked the attendees for their presence.

The first speaker of the day was Ariel Arrieta, co-founder of NXTP Labs, who spoke about building Colombia’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. In his keynote he said: ” Six years ago we landed in Colombia with NXTP Labs and there was already a lot of entrepreneurial drive. However, entrepreneurs sought to grow only at the local level. Today, there are many startups in Colombia that have scaled up not only regionally, but also globally. Six years ago, it seemed like a utopia to accomplish this in such a short time. This ecosystem is evolving and I invite you to celebrate it. But even so, we still have many challenges ahead of us”.

After Ariel’s talk, David Alvo proceeded to present the first keynote:”Fintech in Development Economies”, with Gonzalo Arauz, Lead Investment Officer at the Inter-American Investment Corporation (IIC-IDB). Gonzalo spoke about the process of change in the financial system, which is increasingly being promoted by technological innovation. According to his perspective, financial inclusion in Latin America and SME financing are the latent themes in the region. “Only 51% of Latin America has bank accounts. And a very small percentage of loans in industry goes to small and medium-size enterprises, even less than the percentage of developing countries,”he said.

The first panel of the day was “Financial inclusion and technological leaps” with Cecilia Retegui, CEO and co-founder of Zolvers, Mauricio Cordero, Payjoy’s General Manager in Mexico, Rodrigo Ayala, CEO of Compropago. The moderator was Juliana Álvarez, Director of Banca de las Oportunidades. One of the main themes was that Fintech is expected to contribute to financial inclusion exponentially in the coming years, especially in rural areas.

Subsequently, he moved on to the keynote “CAF and the development of the Fintech industry in Latin America” with Miguel Arango Ospina, Senior Specialist of the Vice President of Productive and Financial Sectors (VSPF) of CAF.

Later on, one of the most awaited panels of the conference “The new rules of the region” took place in which the experiences of regulators from different Latam countries were shared.

Within the panel, Felipe Lega affirmed that “The regulation must be proportional to the risks being assumed” and that “we must continue working so that the symbiosis between Fintech and the financial sector can continue”.

One of the discussion topics was how Fintech’s different actors in the financial ecosystem see and define Fintech. “Fintech’s are financial services that are more efficient and friendly thanks to technology. They are going to shake the comfort of the financial sector and improve competitiveness. What can we learn from Fintech? I define it in a single word: to collaborate,” he said.

Later on, it was the turn of Thayde Olarte, VP of Fintech Partnership and Digital Banking at Scotiabank Canada, who provided a keynote on digital innovation for Latin America from Scotiabank’s perspective. “Scotiabank wants to be a leader in digital technology. We want to generate this acceleration engine in order to achieve it. We develop a model in a market and this is replicated multiple times, and that is what this transformation represents for us. Cultural change for banks is fundamental” she said.

The following theme was “Cybersecurity as part of the business”, a keynote with Francois Leens, Business Development & Alliances at VU Security. Also “Digital Banks, Blockchain and Disruptive Technologies”, a panel with Henry Sraigman, Director of Business Development at RSK Labs, Edgardo Torres, Managing Director for America at Mambu, Cloud Platform for Digital Banks, Francisco Mere, Founder and CEO of Ookbal Capital and Manuel Picallo, CEO of Flexibility, moderated by Miguel Herrera, partner of Quona Capital.

Then came the panel “Betting and winning in digital transformation” with Julio Rojas Sarmiento,Vice President of Strategy and Digital of Banco de Bogotá, José Miguel Cuervo, Manager of Agrega Partners and Danilo Morales, Vice President of Retail Banking and Colpatria branch network, moderated by Carlos Castañeda, Director of Open Innovation at Accenture Colombia.

Another highlight of the conference was NXTP Labs’ Regional Pitch Competition where the best startups from Argentina, Chile, Colombia and Mexico that were part of the NXTP Labs Regional Acceleration Program, presented their companies in front of a jury of investors and corporations and competed for first place.

The winning startup was TranquiFinanzas (Colombia), a platform for diagnosis and personalized financial plan. The award was presented by Scotiabank: a trip to Toronto for the winning company to live a five-day experience at the Digital Factory of this Canadian financial group with a strong presence in the Pacific Alliance. This represents a great opportunity for the company and the development of its business on a regional level.

The companies and institutions that support Fintech Conference are: IDB, MIF, Colpatria, Scotiabank, CAF, Accenture, Banco de Bogotá, VU Security, IBM, Macro, Prisma, Rapipago-Gire, Precision Translators, NH Hotels and Consolid.

After the announcement of the winning startup, the attendees were able to enjoy a relaxed networking space where they could meet and exchange ideas and opinions accompanied by drinks. Fintech Conference 2017 represents the official closing of the Fintech Regional Program until the startup calls for next year’s edition are opened. From NXTP Labs we thank everyone for participating in this edition!