Colombia Fintech is an association of companies that was born at the end of 2016 with the purpose of creating an ecosystem for the development of Fintech businesses in the country. Today it has more than 90 associated and affiliated companies, and the support of highly recognized financial sector entities, as well as national government entities. In a short time it has consolidated as the representative union of the technology and financial innovation industry in Colombia, and one of the most dynamic Fintech associations in Latin America. Recently, dataiFX joined the group of companies associated with this group, thanks to its experience in the development of technological solutions for the financial sector with successful products such as eTrading platforms, transactional portals, mobile apps and linking tools.
How is Fintech going?
We’re doing pretty well. In 2018 we had a growth of around 177% in both the number of members and associate members, which are two different categories: Associates are those who directly carry out Fintech activities, and affiliates are some financial entities that are interested in working on issues of financial technology, and there we have grown a lot both in terms of the number of members and operational revenues during the year 2018.
Among the partners is dataiFX as a Fintech software developer?
Of course. You are part of our association and we are very proud that it is so. We have companies that develop from digital credit and the subject of digital payments, which are the two main Fintech industries that are developed in Colombia. There is also the people who develop Insurtech, which is all the technological activity around the insurance industry. On the other hand, there are Regtech issues, which is all that technology applied to compliance. There is also of course the people of Crowdfunding, the issue of electronic factoring, the issue of mobile wallets, until we get to the topic of Criptoactives and Blockchain.
And within the affiliates who are?
They are basically financial entities that normally require authorization or permission for the development of their activity, and in addition to that, they develop traditional intermediation businesses. There are basically 10 banks, some important insurers here in Colombia, there are financing companies and we also have fiduciary companies.
For the first time, last year Colombians moved more money in the financial system through the Internet than through physical branches, how much remains to grow?
There is an important growth and I want to say that from Fintech’s point of view we have also gone on to have for example the largest Fintech digital credit, which has gone from about 15 thousand monthly placements in digital credit, which can range from $ 100,000 up to $ 500,000, to have almost 40 thousand obligations placed monthly, and that is a very significant sum and that is why we say that we have contributed our bit to digital inclusion through electronic means. But as it has grown significantly, there are still some disincentives in our concept for the development, for example, of digital payments. It is the particular case of the tax on financial movements or 4 per thousand, which directly affects the subject of electronic payment and micro payments. On the other hand there are some conditions of infrastructure or development, which today has digital payment around networks, banks and others, which is being reviewed by the national government by the Financial Regulation Unit, where everyone is waiting for a decree that allows better conditions of access to people to this digital payment, and overcome some situations of conflict of interest and market transparency.
What should that decree have?
In our concept, what must be worked on fundamentally is the definition of clear rules of what are the roles of the different actors in digital payments, including reaching the definition, as happened in Argentina for example, of the need to alienate assets by those who are currently managing or controlling networks; here in Colombia there are some transaction costs that are quite high due precisely to that type of situation. We believe that the greater the clarity there is in terms of the different operational rules of the actors, insofar as some issues of conflict of interest are overcome, and even the definition of models for the gradual alienation of these assets from traditional financial actors, access conditions and associated costs could be improved.
Even so, the above is not a Fintech public policy…
No. The Fintech public policy is much more comprehensive and has many more topics. We there would be touching a topic of digital payments that of course covers many of the verticals of this industry, but not all. Other topics that may be interesting for a Fintech public policy are those of digital identity, or digital Onboarding, which is the complete electronic and remote verification of the identity of the different users of this type of service. Additionally, Open Banking topics; in this topic the generation of open data scenarios from banks and traditional establishments would be very useful, not only for the Fintech industry but for many other industries, and in that we have also understood that the agenda of the Financial Regulation Unit is year is working in that line. Another issue that seems important to us is to address the category of digital credit, especially to clarify the charges that are associated with this type of credit when these charges are sometimes confused with the payment of credits. Another important issue is to definitively address a regulation on operational minimums for the Cryptoactive industry. Colombia is the third largest economy in the region in more Cryptoactive trading, and unfortunately what we can observe is that regulation turns its back on that reality, because there is no regulation, and on the contrary, investments in this type of assets continue growing and in addition to that the risk of money laundering can be exposed and the knowledge of the clients is very precarious here in Colombia. We in the Crypto topic would like it to be defined together with the regulatory authority, perhaps not the Financial one, but it is a work that could be done with the ICT Ministry and with the Superintendence of Industry and Commerce, to work at a minimum operational in customer knowledge, anti-laundering tool and data protection and consumer protection.
What projects are your partners advancing?
There we have extraordinary news. We have been growing especially in the area of digital credit and digital payments. In digital credit the great novelty is the opening of different initiatives during the end of 2018 and throughout this year, around what is the Fintech Empresarial Credit for micro and small businesses. Also the development of the first Agrofintech applications that allow us to reach a sector that needs a great financial inclusion such as agriculture and livestock. On the other hand the development of digital payments of different models that can be seen in the market as payment through QR, which is the famous square code that is used today for practically all types of operations, and moving to innovations that bring different companies in what has to do with the insurance activity, the issues of identification, authentication and electronic signature with Blockchain, that is, our industry is committed to innovation, with the growth and technological evolution of our solutions for to offer society many alternatives, and above all because a better service always taking into account the user experience and taking the center of the strategy to the clients.