The Argentina Fintech Forum closed yesterday with 2,135 participants in three days. With a 100% digital modality, it touched a diverse agenda that dealt with the issues of the fintech world. This year, cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology were particularly relevant.
At the beginning of yesterday’s meeting, the report prepared by Deloitte and financed by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) on the Argentine Fintech Ecosystem 2020 was presented under the coordination of Afluenta and in cooperation with the Argentine Fintech Chamber. Ignacio Carballo, Director of the Fintech and Digital Banking Ecosystem at UCA, took part in the panel; Marcelo Bastante, head of the financial services industry at Deloitte; Gabriela Andrade, lead specialist in financial markets at IDB, and Matías Friedberg, co-founder of Ixpandit.
The four of them highlighted the impressive growth of the ecosystem, which has doubled in two years: it rose from 133 companies in 2018 to 268 in 2020. According to the study, the highest growth was recorded in the payments industry, which took first place with a total of 64 companies. For Ignacio Carballo, if the question that led the fintech industry two years ago was “What for?”, The consolidation of the ecosystem leaves him only “how?”.
The second industry that grew the most in these two years was Blockchain Criptoactivos, which rose from 11 to 25 companies.
Blockchain and cryptocurrencies stand out
Cryptocurrencies had a privileged place in the Argentina Fintech Forum. One of the highlights was Tim Draper, one of the most important venture capitalists in the world and a prominent figure in the crypto world.
“The world is beginning to realize that Bitcoin is simply the best currency and doesn’t have to be tied to the whims of a government agency,” he said in his keynote. He added, “I am promoting the movement towards this open, decentralized and global. This is a very exciting time around the world. Very good things are being done in Argentina too.”
In the panel on Blockchain Finance in Argentina, five industry players spoke about the cryptocurrency boom in a year in which Bitcoin hit its highest historical price.
For Andrés Ondarra, Country Manager at Bitso, “2020 was the year the planets aligned: Despite the financial storm, Bitcoin retained its value and companies like Blackrock are already relying on cryptocurrency.”
“What is happening is extremely interesting,” added Hannah Schiumma, CRO and co-founder of Belo Cash. According to Schiuma, “Crypto has the potential to solve financial problems in the decentralized communities that characterize this new world.”
Eduardo del Pino, co-founder of Bitex, said his company is focused “on decentralizing and reducing the cost of transfers and movements between local currencies of different countries using blockchain technology”. For Del Pino, “any moment we will see banks using crypto, and even central banks using cryptocurrencies.”
Andrés Fleischer, COO of the Argentine stock exchange Ripio, stated: “Bitcoin always had the goal of financing the whole world without intermediaries and without access requirements.”
“The biggest challenge is financial literacy and that people lose this completely unjustified fear of cryptocurrencies,” he said.
The fifth representative of the diverse Argentine crypto ecosystem to speak on the panel was Borja Martel Stewart, co-founder and CCO of Lemon Cash: “We want to build the bridge between cryptocurrencies and fiat money,” he said.
He later said that more than 700 companies have already joined his network to bill cryptocurrencies. “We are challenged to build the next level of payments worldwide,” he said.
Then it was the turn of Max Keizer, founder of Bitcoin Capital Heisenberg. In a heads-up with Mariano Biocca, coordinator of the Argentine Fintech Chamber, Keizer affirmed that not only the peso, but “all Latin American currencies and even the US dollar are doing very badly”. According to his vision, countries like Argentina should now begin to acquire reserves in Bitcoin in order to face a world that in a few years’ time for the first time in its history will have “a currency that is not regulated by the states”. He added, “China, Iran, Russia and Kazakhstan already have strategic bitcoin positions and are trying to escape the rules of the world dollar reserve markets.”
In the afternoon, Luis Silva de la Torre, General Director of the Mexico Fintech Association, explained in the “Fintech Panorama: Mexico and Chile” panel that this country is the country with the highest number of fintechs, alongside Brazil with 441 companies.
Ángel Sierra, Executive Director of FinteChile, announced that Chile has grown from 75 companies in 2017 to 170 companies today.
In the last panel of the day Fintech 2030: Where are we going? This was coordinated by Mario López, CEO and co-founder of Poincenot and Vice President of the Chamber. He recalled that “while a few years ago everything was limited to talking about the fintech banking war, today we can talk about a new fintech industry.” Financial services deployed in the technology where multiple participants coexist, including fintechs and traditional banks, neo-banks, software providers, and tech giants. The challenge is to think from this scenario to the next 10 years. “
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