BBVA Open Talent 2015 – BBVA’s competition for FinTech start-ups, now in its’ 7th year – has attracted 652 entrants from 63 countries, competing for the chance to make it to this year’s finals, to be held in Spain, the United States and Mexico. For the first time, the United States is the country with the largest number of entrants, with 166 competitors.

Companies taking part are challenging for the chance to win €180,000 in prize money, a one-of-a-kind experience at the El Celler de Can Roca and the BBVA Open Talent Special Award for Financial Inclusion 2015.

The purpose of BBVA Talent is to nurture the fintech ecosystem and support companies with great ideas. Two of last year’s Open Talent winners – Socure, an artificial intelligence system protecting against online identity fraud, and ClauseMatch, a cloud-based platform that allows companies to match, negotiate and manage contracts online – have been able to achieve new funding from investors after winning the competition. Socure has raised $5.6 million in Series A funding, while ClauseMatch has secured $500,000 in Series C funding.

This year’s Open Talent has achieved a genuinely global spread of entries. Europe, led by Spain and the UK, has 258 entries – the largest number for a geographic area. ‘USA and Rest of the World’ has 201 entries in total.

Latin America is also a significant presence, with 193 entries. Colombia stands out in particular, with 57 participating start-ups, followed by Mexico, with 47 candidates. Chile is in third position, with 25 registered companies. There has also been participation from across the world including entries from China, Philippines, Kenya and Tanzania. (More details, in this infographic)

“The fact that BBVA Open Talent is now into its 7th year shows the bank’s commitment to the FinTech sector and getting behind great ideas,”said Gustavo Vinacua, Director of Innovation Centers and Open Innovation at BBVA. He added:  “BBVA wants to help entrepreneurs have greater chances of succeeding, while analyzing how to build lasting business relationships with them,” he added.

Finals and awards

Finals in Europe, Latin America and USA will take place in September, when 20 candidates will present their products and services to a panel of judges. Each regional final will have two winners, who will receive €30,000 in prize money each and enjoy a two-week immersion program in Mexico and London. They will also get a day of innovation in the kitchen of El Celler de Can Roca, voted the world’s best restaurant in 2015.

At the same time, BBVA is giving the BBVA Open Talent Special Award for Financial Inclusion 2015. The aim of this accolade is to promote the creation of new digital services targeting small businesses and very low-income customers.

The prize is an invitation to attend the Global Policy Forum, an event organized by the Alliance for Financial Inclusion, to be held in Maputo, Mozambique, in September. The winner will also take part in the immersion program along with the other winning start-ups.

Information on the next stages of BBVA Open Talent 2015 are available on the website of BBVA’s Innovation Center.