Andres Fontao - Finnovista
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By Andrés Fontao

A friend sent me a text with a link to a WSJ article earlier this week (thanks Brian!). He hadn’t read the article, let alone notice that I was quoted in that same story he had shared. Upon reading it, he sent me a congratulatory message, and I have to admit it made me feel very proud. Not because I was quoted in the WSJ (I’ll leave that one for mom and dad, wife and kids), but rather because of the impact that Finnovista is delivering to Latin America. As an entrepreneur, it was one of those moments when you realize that a vision set forth years ago has started to become real.

The fact that someone, far removed from Mexico and with little affinity to Fintech has been drawn to share and read an article about the problems so many startups like Credijusto are trying to solve in Mexico and across Latin America, is extremely satisfying and provides me with the energy and excitement to continue building a bigger and better Finnovista with the capability to deliver even more impact to the region.

As we approach our six year anniversary at Finnovista, it’s amazing to see how much the Fintech sector has matured and developed in Latin America over this time. I remember like it was yesterday when Fermin and I landed in Bogota in August 2013 and started having conversations with local and regional entrepreneurs, investors and different financial industry players. I remember sharing our vision with one of Colombia’s more prominent entrepreneurs and being told, in a negative way “You guys are crazy. The banks will never allow for that to happen”.

Later that year were able to bring together some of the founding fathers of the Latin American fintech scene; the likes of Alejandro Cosentino (Afluenta), Nicolas Shea (Cumplo), Vicente Fenoll (Kubo.financiero) and Dan Gertsacov (then with Lenddo). But more importantly, with their support we began sowing the seeds of a Fintech movement that expanded across the region and included startup founders, investors, accelerators, industry incumbents and many many more stakeholders from the startup and industry ecosystems.

But it’s not the past that excites me, but rather the present and the future. The opportunity to disrupt finance in Latin America is as clear and as large as ever. And the winds are blowing strongly in favor of the tech startups that are transforming financial services in the region. Capital is flowing, incumbents are collaborating, regulation is being drafted and approved, talent is readily available, and many other indicators that should bring positive change. Despite the looming political and economic uncertainty in countries like Mexico or Argentina, excitement abounds across the regional Fintech community –in the past week alone, we’ve read about Credijusto’s US$100MM debt financing, PayPal’s US$750MM investment in MercadoLibe and SoftBank’s announced US$5B fund, some of which will be directed towards Fintech investments, I am sure, in the very near future. And there is a lot more to come. This is why I am convinced there has never been a better time to be a Fintech entrepreneur in Latin America than now.

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