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Investing in Fintech: Global Perspectives at MIT Fintech Conference

The MIT Fintech conference brought together global leaders investing in Fintech from the following organizations: 500 Startups (South East Asia), Monashees Venture Capital (Brazil), Tectonic Ventures (USA), TA Associates (USA).

As a Canadian sitting in the crowd, I sat comparing notes with my own geography. I found similarities in these global perspectives to the Canadian market, from: evolving customer demands, compliance, financial literacy, and a push to invest in and partner with new age Fintechs that are operating in startup like environments to quickly cater to evolving customer demands.

It's also imperative to note that Partnership does not always lead to the type of deal imagined, and in that case it's also a good idea to invest in innovation and become a majority shareholder. We owe it to our own regions to test and push the boundaries of our thinking with technologies - especially in financial services to understand how we can better our overall experiences globally.

When questioned why Fintech was such a big opportunity, here is what the panelists had to say:

Marcelo Lima, from Monashees Venture Capital discussed the growing pain points in Brazil due to the shift in customer expectations and varying broken experiences in the financial services industry. Brazil has one of the highest interest rates in the world with consumer revenue being eaten away by profits. He pointed out that there is low financial literacy, and as such, consumers are continuing to pay these interest rates that are seemingly absurd - but that will start to change. Lima pointed out that Brazilian customers are susceptible to tech adoption by having one of the biggest economies for technology adoption worldwide (i.e. with Netflix, Spotify, etc.). That said, he notices that financial services technology is not as widespread however, the technology in the financial services industry has not been tapped into.

Vishal Harnal, from 500 Startups discussed the growing market in SEA for Fintech (approximately $700M) due to the advents of access and efficiency that is allowing for improved fluidity of processes and operations. SEA has experienced two big 'pops' in Lending and Payments, however, there is no clear winner in SEA as of yet. The geography is still betting on different horses to understand which will be the unicorn.

Ken Schiciano, from TA Associates brought forth a unique perspective from the USA. He discussed the pressure Financial Institutions are facing. These pressures include: regulatory overlay to push for progress and compliance and adherence to new laws, as well as reducing overall operating expenses. That said, there is a ton of interest in investment and partnerships to address some of these challenges.

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