FinTech Interview Series: Luis Carranza of FinTech Week
Luis Carranza is an entrepreneur and founder of Fintech Worldwide and Census. Luis started his career in digital innovation in the marketing sector and transitioned to Financial services technology in 2014. His new project, Census, is a Blockchain-based technology that will allow people to earn value from their data.
Tell us about yourself.
I’ve always been into technology and innovation. I started my career in marketing focusing on digital strategy which naturally led into further opportunities in innovation and transformation. I started running tech meetups in order to unite people that are creating projects looking to meet others that can help. This quickly became a large group with several thousand. I decided to run a conference and chose FinTech since it was an emerging area of tech that was perfect for London. After the first Fintech Week in 2014, I was brought on to launch Innovate Finance, the UK’s industry body for Fintech. After this I kept my focus on uniting the tech ecosystem and included more Blockchain content, as this was an emerging area. Today we’ve run dozens of events all over the world. It’s exciting being on the forefront of change.
Tell us about FinTech week
Fintech Week has always been about uniting the ecosystem, including banks, government, students, investors, start-ups and innovators. When we started we thought creating a festival-like atmosphere would be a good way to differentiate. We run one track per day on multiple days. Everything from payments, insurance to Blockchain is covered from leaders in their field. The one thing we pride ourselves on is creating an atmosphere for people to connect and meet each other. So far this format has been working for 5 years.
Could you tell us some of the highlights of FinTech Week
The highlights of FinTech Week include the Hackathon Weekend, which always produces some cool projects. It’s difficult to choose which speakers to highlight, but the other highlight is the audience diversity. You could meet a wealthy billionaire investor or a rising star creating the next game changing FinTech company.
How do you see the Financial Sector evolving in the next five years?
The sector is maturing. More money is pouring in, larger acquisitions are happening and small companies are becoming big. Crypto-financing is also making things interesting. Companies are bypassing traditional finance and raising money through token sales. A lot will happen in the next 5 years. A lot has happened in the previous 5.
How has the sector changed since you started?
When we first started everything felt new. Startups thought they could conquer the world and win against large incumbents. Since then we’re seeing more collaboration between small and large firms. Investment has doubled and more projects are being tested in emerging markets. Companies like Transferwise are a great example of how things have changed. In 2014 we had the founder of Transferwise speak about their startup. Now they are considered a unicorn with a billion dollar valuation.
Is FinTech actually different? We've always been consumers and developers of technology in financial services.
FinTech represents a faster pace of technological advancement in financial services. You could even describe it as a gold rush period where a large number of new companies came into existence to improve the sector and make money doing it.
Can regulation keep up?
In the UK, the regulator is one of the most advanced anywhere. They have been running a regulatory sandbox, which has been emulated in other countries. Innovation will always find a way to break existing processes, but I think the regulars are keeping up.
Is the London-based FinTech machine losing steam?
I don’t think London FinTech is loosing steam. The growth is still happening. Other global cities may be increasing their pace faster, but London shows no signs of slowing down.
Where do you think will become the global hubs, any surprising recommendations.
Singapore and Hong Kong are ones to watch. Their governments are backing projects and attracting promising startups. They have the resources to make big changes quickly.
What are your favourite FinTech innovations?
Transferwise has made easier and cheaper for me to transfer money to the US. The savings is noticeable. The other thing I think is a revolution is crypto-financing. The last year has forced regulators and institutional investors to take notice. I have never seen something go from minute numbers to over 30 billion in investment in less than a year. There are lots of risks and growing pains but access to capital has changed forever.