With the keynote address “Digital Innovation and the Future of Money,” given by Dr. Agustín Carstens, general manager of the Bank of International Settlements (BIS), the 2021 Business Perspectives Seminar was held at ITAM, with the Fintech ecosystem as its central theme.
In welcoming the seminar, ITAM President Arturo Fernández acknowledged the work of the Banco de México in providing the technological infrastructure, such as SPEI, CODI and SPID, among others, that constitute the backbone of a modern financial system.
Dr. Fernández emphasized that Fintech companies are challenging traditional financial institutions, which is good news for users due to their lower operational costs, but that this will not represent a threat as long as Fintech companies do not have funding.
On the other hand, Agustín Carstens pointed out that the future of money will probably be digital. “It is not just about cryptocurrencies; it’s about an advance in national currencies to the digital realm, where central banks will issue currency (MDBC).” The benefits, he said, include lower transaction costs, greater inclusion, less dependence on physical money, greater security and being a catalyst for investments. “It can be used by Fintechs to innovate even more.”
Xiuh Tenorio, president of the ITAM Alumni Association, indicated that the Fintech sector has grown by 14% in the past year, mostly in payments and loans. He said that the pandemic, by modifying the ways of relating to Fintech tools, has allowed them to grow in 6 months what was expected to take 5 years.
Javier Villamizar, Operating Partner of the Softbank’s Vision Fund, pointed out that the Softbank Fund for Latin America has 5 billion dollars, the equivalent of all the investment in technology in the region in one year. The objective of these funds is to promote innovation by generating disruption through technology, but rather than investing in companies, they invest in technologies and business models that must be applied globally, and that now the channeling of funds has been reduced and is more precise in the specific objectives to be achieved.
Villamizar said that talent and human capacity are key aspects and that there is currently a shortage of talent and training programs to promote the development of Fintech.
Amin Toufani, from Singularity University, said that technology is resilient to any type of change in history, and that one of its main elements is the deflation it experiences over time.
He pointed out that the four technological domain trends for the future are: the Blockchain domain for databases; the solar domain for energy; the artificial intelligence domain for systems; and the biotechnology domain, because people believe more and more that, naturally, it is not enough.
— Xiuh Tenorio (@XiuhTenorio) February 5, 2021
Financing of Fintech Innovative Projects Panel
At the panel moderated by Sylvia Meljem, director of CEVIC ITAM, and with the participation of ITAM graduates Daniel Autrique, co-founder of Klar; Hernán Fernández, founding partner of Angel Ventures, and Alehira Orozco, president of Fintech Association of Mexico, it was emphasized that thanks to the certainty generated by the Fintech Law, Mexico ranks second in Latin America, after Brazil, in the list of countries with the largest number of Fintech companies, with those that specialize in payments and loans leading the national market. To grow more, it is necessary to attract more financing and talent, both business and technical engineering.
The need for pension and government funds to finance Fintech companies was highlighted, since with greater financing Mexico would be able to grow as a hub and have an ecosystem of digital payments and Fintech companies equal to or even more robust than that of Brazil.
Financial Innovation in Mexico Today Panel: General Perspectives
The panel was moderated by Gabriela Ugarte, president of the 2020 Alumni Association, with the participation of Laura Cruz Urquiza, CEO of Mastercard México; Alberto Chaia, senior partner of McKinsey México; and Augusto Álvarez de Iturbe, co-president and co-founder of AlphaCredit Capital.
The participants emphasized the fact that, given that the supply of financial services has little penetration and little innovation in Mexico, Fintech companies are taking advantage of this, but they must find out what they are strong in, through a digital model and technology. And although investment in Fintechs fell in 2020, there are still possibilities to access funding, with the expectation that these will increase in 2021.
ITAM’s 2021 Fintech Business Perspectives Seminar was organized by ITAM’s Advancement and Institutional Communication Office and Alumni Association. More than 1,300 people attended it, and it was the second Institutional Seminar carried out in 2021 in an online version under the commitment to maintain the institute’s activities, even at a distance, with the aim of keeping its community together and continuing to promote academic and human excellence as a hallmark of ITAM.