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Fintech 17 Oct 2018

BBVA Open Summit: Turning the magic of startups into products

Boundaries between sectors are quickly disappearing in the fintech world – a trend also apparent in efforts to innovate. With this in mind, the second edition of Open Summit is exploring different ways in which startups and corporations can work together. “At BBVA we want to turn the magic of startups into products that reach our customers,” Derek White, the head of Client Solutions, said at the opening session of the event.

The revolution the finance sector is facing was largely caused by the arrival of new digital players. These new actors are including services that directly compete with banks in their value propositions. “The boundaries between the segments are blurring,” Money 20/20 President Tracey Davies underscored as the main trend affecting financial innovation.

Digital players, who tend to be highly specialized, are expanding into new areas where they can monetize or profit from their business model. And many tend to find room to innovate in payments or financing. Davies pointed to Amazon as an example: “In very little time it has combined 18 services that replace services banks were offering.”

Tencent’s mobile payment system in China – or other less well-known companies like the Asian startup Grab (a transportation service like Uber) which acquired the Indian payment company iKaaz, or the airline Air Asia which created its own wallet app to get rid of all cash from its planes – are clear signs of the growing interest in offering services that can be profitable and also provide a great deal of information on customers.

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Money 20/20 President Tracey Davies

“Everyone looks at these players and tries to guess what their next move will be,” maintained Davies, whose events include 1,800 of the most influential speakers in finance and technology every year. And where the question that CEOs like Davies ask themselves the most is what they can do to compete at such a rapid pace: acquisitions? partnerships? development?

“We want that unicorn – that idea in an entrepreneur’s head that becomes a product in our customers’ hands”

Derek White, who welcomed the participants to Open Summit, explained how all of these possibilities are addressed at BBVA. On the one hand, the bank invests in the most disruptive startups through Propel. On the other, solutions are built outside the bank through the new digital business area (Denizen, Tuyyo, Covault, Azlo, Muno, etc.). And at the same time, BBVA also works to promote innovation in the entrepreneurial ecosystem and explore possible areas for collaboration.

In fact, Open Summit is the annual summit where BBVA puts the focus on its open innovation initiatives and which also serves as an opportunity to reveal the winners of the Open Talent competition.

“Entrepreneurs are the lifeblood of society and the economy all around the world,” maintained White, who encouraged the participants to connect with each other and find the people in BBVA who can help them accomplish their goals and objectives. “We want that unicorn – that idea in an entrepreneur’s head that becomes a product in our customers’ hands,” insisted White.

The right team and motivation

At a roundtable on investors, Jay Reinemann, a Partner and Managing Partner at Propel, explained how there is currently a lot of competition to find these ideas – those potential unicorns. And what exactly is the right formula? It’s not an exact science, but if there’s one thing funds look at it’s the team.

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Gonzalo Romera,  M&A Digital en BBVA, and  Jay Reinemann, Propel Venture Partners

“The team’s talent and experience is important, but what truly makes the difference is if the team is motivated and passionate about really wanting to change something,” stressed Reinemann. He also added, “And then there’s the size of the market they want to compete in. It has to be big enough.”

These reflections and dozens of meetings among entrepreneurs, investors and BBVA executives marked the first day of Open Summit. The crowning moment will take place on the second day when CEO Carlos Torres and Group Executive Chairman Francisco González reveal the winners of the 2018 Open Talent competition.

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