Innotribe has long been known for launching fintech start-ups around the globe through its Start-Up Challenge program. This year, SWIFT’s innovation arm launched a complementary Industry Challenge program, bringing together finance, tech, and fintech to develop solutions real-world problems in just a few days of intense collaboration.

Author: Denise Bedell

This year, Innotribe, the Swift initiative long known for launching fintech start-ups around the globe, changed gears. Rather than running its incubators and challenges throughout the globe, it focused on two emerging fintech hubs: Latin America and Africa. That opened some bandwidth to launch a series of Industry Challenges to complement the Startup Challenges.

Fabian Vandenreydt, global head of Innotribe, Securities Markets and the SWIFT Institute, has described Innotribe as “a cultural translator,” which can tear down boundaries between fintechs and the more established financial community and allow them to work more closely together.

The Industry Challenge puts the Innotribe team to work closely with Swift members to “identify business areas that could benefit from collaborative solutions” and develop a series of challenges to be solved by select fintech start-ups in partnership with SWIFT’s core financial community to solve practical problems. Earlier this year, the first such challenge was launched, focusing on the securities space. Participants—which included SWIFT clients, fintechs, blockchain start-ups and SWIFT Board members—got together for a two-day workshop in April. Tasked with evaluating the life cycle of a short-dated bond on a blockchain, they had to evaluate the problem, define use cases and come up with a proof-of-concept by the end of the workshop.

SWIFT Startup Challenge New York Showcase - 2015

The second Industry Challenge, focusing on compliance, took place in July. Vendors pitched prototypes and proofs of concept in the Marketplace Challenge on July 4, then early-stage startups had a chance to fine-tune and beta-test new technologies in a collaborative workshop with Swift’s compliance team as well as banks.

The Industry Challenge will assuredly be among the initiatives that Innotribe is showcasing at this week’s Sibos conference in Geneva. Additionally, with every nation seeking to become a “fintech hub,” Innotribe will offer spotlight sessions that provide details on fintech hubs around the world—an extension of its efforts with the Global FinTech Hubs Federation launched in August.

Of course, the group’s well-known Start-up Challenge will offer an exciting “final” of presentations by winners of events in Africa and Lat Am. Twelve start-ups in each region were winnowed to three winners. In addition to a cash prize, the three winners had the opportunity to come to Sibos, present their solutions on the Innotribe stage and set up at Innotribe’s Satellite Fintech Hub.

The two start-up challenges were held in conjunction with SWIFT’s regional conferences in Africa and Lat Am, and the winners were focused on new technologies around mobile and peer-to-peer payments and lending for consumers and SMEs.

The African start-ups that made the grade include Cameroonian cross-border mobile money platform, WeCashUp; South Africa-based Hello Paisa, which offers low-cost international money transfer for remittances; and the very unique Sun Exchange, which is a P2P platform for investing in global solar projects. In Latin America, two Mexican start-ups and one Chilean firm beat out the competition. Chile’s Destacame helps SMEs and individuals currently excluded from the financial systems with better access to credit and financial services. Quotanda, from Mexico, is a school-run student financing marketplace, connecting borrowers and lenders. And finally Bitso, also from Mexico, is a blockchain-based cross-border payments solution.


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