Matteo Rizzi: "To innovate you have to be rebellious and take risks"
In the final session of the first edition of the Visa Innovation Program, we learnt about the trends and future perspectives of the Fintech ecosystem from a key player in the sector.
The Visa Innovation Program, an initiative to promote Fintechs created by Visa in collaboration with Finnovating and Hackquarters, put the finishing touches on the first edition in Spain during the Visa Demo Day, celebrating the dynamism of the payments industry in Spain and around the world.
Among an exceptional lineup was Matteo Rizzi, a point of reference for the Fintech industry worldwide, and with more than two decades’ experience in the creation and expansion of Fintechs. The Visa Spain team had the opportunity to chat with him about his views as an expert in the sector.
First of all, you say that it is the troublemakers who make real innovation possible.
Indeed, to innovate in the Fintech sector you must be rebellious and take risks, get out of the mold, because if not, you will not find a disruptive innovation. I think it is very important to keep this in mind and remember that you have to give space to the rebels as well, those who rebel and bring new concepts and ideas that can bring revolutionary changes.
With more than 20 years of experience in the sector, what advice would you give to Fintechs who are starting their journey now and want to scale their business?
As an investor, I always say that it's critical to do your homework before you start. I say this as I observe that there is still a lack of preparation in some entrepreneurs when they present their projects, because convincing someone to be a client is no longer enough. In the end, before reaching that stage you have to work on an exhaustive analysis of many factors: who your competitors are, what needs there are right now in the activity you want to undertake ... Undoubtedly, carrying out this preliminary study is essential to be able to grow as a Fintech.
In addition, in recent years we have seen the enormous potential of the Fintech ecosystem worldwide...
Globally the Fintech sector has evolved in a spectacular way. Taking stock of this change, the Fintech phenomenon began in cities such as London, New York and Singapore, which were the first to bet on the sector. Over the years, seeing that the joint collaboration between banks and the ecosystem worked, more and more markets have wanted to join this movement.
And focusing on Spain, what prospects do you predict for Fintech in our country?
It is true that traditionally it has been a market in which banks have originally been very individualistic, that is, each had its own innovation program. However, in the last six years we have experienced a transformation in the national territory, observing more and more willingness to collaborate between Fintechs, banks and other relevant players in the ecosystem.
In this sense, I believe that continuing to promote this collaboration is essential for the growth of the Spanish Fintech system, because without this joint work and cooperation, many of them could not scale and settle only with their technology. In addition, I believe that the Spanish market has a lot of potential due to the strong and innovative nature of Spanish banking.
What do you consider to be the main challenges of the Fintech sector in countries like Spain?
On the one hand, I believe that the historic challenge right now is the search for funding. While it is true that ten years ago it was easier for Fintech to raise capital for their growth, today the situation has changed. Now, for a Fintech to capture the interest of investors it must meet certain requirements.
Those include demonstrating sufficient autonomy, traction, and strength that gives an investor confidence in their bet.
Visa Demo Day was the closing feature of the first Visa Innovation Program in Spain, with a primary objective to promote this sector. What’s your view on programmes like these and their place in the ecosystem?
Undoubtedly, such programmes are very necessary. In fact, looking back, many of these programmes either did not exist when Fintechs started or lacked the adequate infrastructure to be able to work with startups. Fortunately, there are now many large financial companies that have an infrastructure, culture, and ability to collaborate. Therefore, today's networking is much more effective than ten years ago.
In addition, these types of programmes have already proven their success on previous occasions, at SWIFT we launched the Global Startup Challenge, which had winners who are points of references in the sector and started as small projects that received that decisive boost for their growth with projects like this. This is what initiatives such as the Visa Innovation Program achieve, so I think they continue to be very necessary, and even more so if we talk about Spanish Fintechs.
In the end, the fact that Visa has opted to launch in Spain favours that startups and local Fintechs can create roots in their own market.
During Demo Day you have also announced the second edition of the Visa Innovation Program, what are your predictions for a year from now?
Overall, I am very curious to see who the participants of the second edition will be. During the Demo Day I had the opportunity to talk to all the Fintechs from the first edition and I have drawn a very interesting conclusion, and that is that many of those who have created these startups are people with notable previous experience in large companies. People who have decided to change their lives to create a business that improves the business where they have been working for so many years through innovation.
I think this is very positive, because having this previous experience at the time of entrepreneurship provides you with prior knowledge and resources, something that gives a lot of confidence to Fintech. In fact, I believe that this experience has been one of the keys to the success of this first edition.
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