Becoming general manager of ItaliaFintech in March 2020 Camilla Cionini Visani talks about the association’s mission but also about what should be done to promote the growth of the fintech sector in Italy.
Which activities does Italia Fintech carry out and which projects/themes is it developing?
Let me start by saying that in the coming years we will testimony an unprecedented further change in the financial industry landscape. Italian Fintech today is an industry characterised by strong growth, innovation, talented and competent professionals: it represents an opportunity for our country that should not be missed. Fintech is an enabler of innovation not only within the financial industry space but thanks to its innovative solutions on one hand allows corporates and SMEs to be more competitive and on the other side offers individuals new efficient and customer friendly financial instruments. Its leading-edge solutions can be easily incorporated – making internal processes faster and more efficient, widens the opportunities to grow with its digital financing products and offers customers secure and innovative digital payments solutions.
This is why ItaliaFintech was created in 2018 and today it is the Italian leading Fintech association. Our mission is to support and facilitate the growth of the industry. We are in constant dialogue with all institutional stakeholders and regulatory authorities at Italian and European level in order to ensure that there is a comprehension of the potential offered by this industry, promoting new measures and suggesting improvements to the current regulatory framework allowing Fintech to grow in a regulated manner and in compliance with without preventing to limit its potential. Moreover, our role is to “spread the word of Fintech” in all digital and traditional media through facts, figures and concrete examples on how using Fintech solutions is efficient, fast and easy.
We are currently very busy working on many projects for our associated companies. We have increased our presence in workshops and webinars and we are putting more and more our associates on stage in front of companies and professionals. Secondly, we have created internal working groups by segment where we share experiences, analyse trends and common issues and act accordingly. Finally, we have strengthened the dialogue with Ministers, Bank of Italy, CONSOB and all stakeholders generally speaking.
ItaliaFintech associates 23 best-in-class companies ranging all segments of Fintech: financing, digital payments, blockchain, crowdfunding, artificial intelligence just to name some of them.
What is the collaboration with Fintech District?
Fintech District plays a very important role for us with a very productive collaboration on various themes. First of all is one of our associated companies and also with an important role in our governance. Certainly, the area where collaboration is stronger is Education to Fintech. Together we will be shortly launching The Fintech Masteclasses, the first digital program for young professionals, executives and entrepreneurs on financial technology and innovation. Secondly, we collaborate on a number of reach out initiatives together with the Fintech District and the Milan Municipality to encourage and attract investors and talent in Milan aiming at strengthening Milan as a Fintech hub for Italy and Europe. We are currently working on a very important joint project, the Milan Fintech Summit, which will take place in December 2020 and will involve all key Italian and international leaders in the Fintech space. Last but not least our offices are located in the Fintech District in order to keep developing synergies and opportunities for the associates of ItaliaFintech.
3 assets of the Italian Fintech ecosystem
First of all, what call the 3S: speed, simplicity and security.
Secondly, Italian Fintech more than any other ecosystem provides tailor-made solutions for SMEs, which is truly the backbone of our economy since 92% of Italian companies are SMEs.
Finally, complementarity with banks and other financial institutions in a win-win mode for both.
3 aspects on which it should improve in order to be more competitive in an international context?
Regulation, capital and talent are the key elements to make Fintech successful in Italy.
I believe that Fintech represents a great opportunity to accelerate the development of new industry which is emerging worldwide and where there still is wide room for growth. As I just said, Italy should not miss this opportunity: Fintech needs to be top of the agenda for policymakers ensuring that the financial regulatory framework is inclusive and supportive for Fintech companies. Policymakers should introduce stronger tax incentives aiming at leveraging the many resources willing to finance equity and innovation. Attracting foreign capital and talent are the other two key ingredients for a successful development of the sector.
From your point of view today, how can Italian fintech contribute to the economic recovery and its post covid support?
In an environment which naturally leads to an increase in use of Fintech in everyday life of families and corporates, the economic emergency caused by Covid-19 has impressed an incredible speed to Fintech. The need of security and digitalisation, the difficulty of accessing physical locations such as banks branches, working from home and paperless all leads to a crucial role that Fintech solutions can play in facilitating and making access to financing and liquidity simple and fast especially for SMEs rather than evolving payment solutions and pushing forward collaboration with financial institutions.
In the first 5 months of 2020, financing to SMEs by our associated companies has increased by 4.5x from E90,3 ml in 2019 to E412,3 ml 2020 and the number of SMEs financed increased by 3.1x from 662 to 2.082 SMEs.
But even more relevant for the economy is the contribution that Fintech can bring in terms of innovative solution and innovation to traditional players in order to find new, more efficient and faster ways in the entire finance value chain. Digitalisation is a must and Fintech solutions are the way.
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