What makes a good Fintech hub and why Mexico is at the heart of Fintech in Latin America?

April 8, 2020
Uulala CMO Global Strategy CSR |Data Innovation Labs | TED Educator| Social Impact Entrepreneur | FinTech & 4IR Advocate.
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According to a 2017 Deloitte report, the success of a Fintech hub depends largely on the following 4 factors: Access to talent, availability of capital, conducive regulatory environment and demand for digital financial products. Mexico has a solid supply of all four.

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Latin America has recently become a hotspot for financial technology, with Fintech ventures growing by 66% in 2018 alone. This impressive growth rate springs from multiple factors, including supportive regulation, availability of investment capital, and widespread mobile network access across the region.

According to a 2017 report by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and Finnovista, there are now 1,166 Fintech ventures in Latin America. Brazil and Mexico lead the pack at 380 and 273 ventures respectively, hosting 56% of the region’s financial technology institutions (FTI) between them.

While many countries in Latin America are promoting regulatory environments that support open banking and Fintech ventures, Mexico took the lead as the first country in the region to enact real Fintech legislation in October 2018. In part because of this regulatory environment, Uulala chose to beta its digital financial platform there first, in November of last year.

What makes a good Fintech hub?

A Fintech ‘hub’ can be a region, a city, country or a network that has a structured ecosystem comprising relevant system elements, including the people, Fintech ventures and other organizations within it.

According to a 2017 Deloitte report, the success of a Fintech hub depends largely on the following 4 factors:

  • Access to talent
  • Availability of capital
  • Conducive regulatory environment
  • Demand for digital financial products

Mexico has a solid supply of all four, in addition to having very little history of industry cooperation in the financial sector. This ‘lack’ can actually be conducive of a more open, creative and supportive environment for new ventures.

Mexico has both the talent and the means for Fintech to expand

Mexico graduated over 113,000 software engineers in 2017, the most per capita anywhere in the world and second only to the U.S. (120,000) in absolute numbers. Several Mexican startups have been founded by engineers who previously worked for IBM, Google, and other successful multinationals, bringing valuable experience to the country’s Fintech industry.

In the past few years, investment capital has begun flocking to Latin America’s Fintech sector. Investment in the industry tripled between 2015 and 2016 and topped $570 million in 2017.

Demand for digital is high in Mexico

As of 2017, just 40% of adults in Mexico had bank accounts, but the country has recently undertaken initiatives to increase access to financial services. Most notable is their National Financial Inclusion Strategy (NFIS) which launched in 2016 with the goals of improving financial access and education, particularly for the rural population. The program looks in part to Fintech as a means of increasing financial access for the unbanked, especially in remote areas without banking infrastructure.

For partially and fully-banked individuals, new methods of digital payments and investment offer alternatives to the formal banking sector, which has historically come with high costs and lots of red tape. For the unbanked population, mobile banking can offer a virtual financial lifeline, facilitating first-time financial access and opening doors to.

What about the unbanked? Uulala’s got them covered.

The first wave of digital payments in Latin America has relied on the existing banking system, requiring users to load a credit card or connect to an existing bank account in order to move value into a mobile money application. Users can then pay through the app, but the payments to fund the account comes from an external source. Unfortunately, for the unbanked or underbanked, these platforms may be out of reach.

Uulala instead offers a self-contained ecosystem which allows users to create an account without any pre-existing financial access. Users first open a digital bank account within the platform and can fund it either in cash, by receiving a transfer from another Uulala user, or from an external institution, including via international remittance. Users can then acquire a debit card through the Uulala ecosystem, opening even more doors into the financial world and elevating new users out of the cash-only economy.

Mexico’s Fintech regulations are attracting new ventures

Good regulations are actually good business, at least in the world of financial technology.

Globally, the adoption of Fintech applications has generally preceded the adoption of regulation, and the proliferation of unregulated ventures can lead to a chaotic and insecure investment scenario, especially in developing countries. Mexico has acted to pre-empt such chaos by introducing broad but not stifling regulations for financial technology, helping to build a more stable and predictable environment for investors and consumers alike.

Mexico’s Fintech law is considered to be the first of its kind in its comprehensive regulation of digital financial products, including cryptocurrencies, crowdsourcing, and digital payments. The country has now become a world leader in Fintech regulation, with other economies looking to it as an example of thorough and adaptive regulation for the sector. The section of the regulation governing digital access exchanges may need to be modified if Mexico wants to enhance their cryptocurrency presence around the globe but for Fintech, in general, the playing field is wide open.

Las opiniones compartidas y expresadas por los analistas son libres e independientes, y de ellas son responsables sus autores. No reflejan ni comprometen el pensamiento u opinión de Latam Fintech Hub, por lo cual no pueden ser interpretadas como recomendaciones emitidas por la platafomra. Esta plataforma es un espacio abierto para promover la diversidad de puntos de vista sobre el ecosistema Fintech.

Latin America has recently become a hotspot for financial technology, with Fintech ventures growing by 66% in 2018 alone. This impressive growth rate springs from multiple factors, including supportive regulation, availability of investment capital, and widespread mobile network access across the region.

According to a 2017 report by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and Finnovista, there are now 1,166 Fintech ventures in Latin America. Brazil and Mexico lead the pack at 380 and 273 ventures respectively, hosting 56% of the region’s financial technology institutions (FTI) between them.

While many countries in Latin America are promoting regulatory environments that support open banking and Fintech ventures, Mexico took the lead as the first country in the region to enact real Fintech legislation in October 2018. In part because of this regulatory environment, Uulala chose to beta its digital financial platform there first, in November of last year.

What makes a good Fintech hub?

A Fintech ‘hub’ can be a region, a city, country or a network that has a structured ecosystem comprising relevant system elements, including the people, Fintech ventures and other organizations within it.

According to a 2017 Deloitte report, the success of a Fintech hub depends largely on the following 4 factors:

  • Access to talent
  • Availability of capital
  • Conducive regulatory environment
  • Demand for digital financial products

Mexico has a solid supply of all four, in addition to having very little history of industry cooperation in the financial sector. This ‘lack’ can actually be conducive of a more open, creative and supportive environment for new ventures.

Mexico has both the talent and the means for Fintech to expand

Mexico graduated over 113,000 software engineers in 2017, the most per capita anywhere in the world and second only to the U.S. (120,000) in absolute numbers. Several Mexican startups have been founded by engineers who previously worked for IBM, Google, and other successful multinationals, bringing valuable experience to the country’s Fintech industry.

In the past few years, investment capital has begun flocking to Latin America’s Fintech sector. Investment in the industry tripled between 2015 and 2016 and topped $570 million in 2017.

Demand for digital is high in Mexico

As of 2017, just 40% of adults in Mexico had bank accounts, but the country has recently undertaken initiatives to increase access to financial services. Most notable is their National Financial Inclusion Strategy (NFIS) which launched in 2016 with the goals of improving financial access and education, particularly for the rural population. The program looks in part to Fintech as a means of increasing financial access for the unbanked, especially in remote areas without banking infrastructure.

For partially and fully-banked individuals, new methods of digital payments and investment offer alternatives to the formal banking sector, which has historically come with high costs and lots of red tape. For the unbanked population, mobile banking can offer a virtual financial lifeline, facilitating first-time financial access and opening doors to.

What about the unbanked? Uulala’s got them covered.

The first wave of digital payments in Latin America has relied on the existing banking system, requiring users to load a credit card or connect to an existing bank account in order to move value into a mobile money application. Users can then pay through the app, but the payments to fund the account comes from an external source. Unfortunately, for the unbanked or underbanked, these platforms may be out of reach.

Uulala instead offers a self-contained ecosystem which allows users to create an account without any pre-existing financial access. Users first open a digital bank account within the platform and can fund it either in cash, by receiving a transfer from another Uulala user, or from an external institution, including via international remittance. Users can then acquire a debit card through the Uulala ecosystem, opening even more doors into the financial world and elevating new users out of the cash-only economy.

Mexico’s Fintech regulations are attracting new ventures

Good regulations are actually good business, at least in the world of financial technology.

Globally, the adoption of Fintech applications has generally preceded the adoption of regulation, and the proliferation of unregulated ventures can lead to a chaotic and insecure investment scenario, especially in developing countries. Mexico has acted to pre-empt such chaos by introducing broad but not stifling regulations for financial technology, helping to build a more stable and predictable environment for investors and consumers alike.

Mexico’s Fintech law is considered to be the first of its kind in its comprehensive regulation of digital financial products, including cryptocurrencies, crowdsourcing, and digital payments. The country has now become a world leader in Fintech regulation, with other economies looking to it as an example of thorough and adaptive regulation for the sector. The section of the regulation governing digital access exchanges may need to be modified if Mexico wants to enhance their cryptocurrency presence around the globe but for Fintech, in general, the playing field is wide open.

Las opiniones compartidas y expresadas por los analistas son libres e independientes, y solamente sus autores son responsables de ellas. No reflejan ni comprometen el pensamiento o la opinión del equipo de Latam Fintech Hub y, por lo tanto, no pueden interpretarse como recomendaciones emitidas por la plataforma. Esta plataforma es un espacio abierto para promover la diversidad de puntos de vista en el ecosistema Fintech.
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