#Fintech Expert, Fabrizio Villani’s book, presented as “A guide to the revolution taking place in the fintech world” and enriched by the testimonies of the protagonists, aims to tell the story of this sector: its dynamics and who the professionals are working in it, as well as those who would be needed to further strengthen it. We met the author to find out his point of view concerning Italian fintech and his advice for those from abroad would like to immerse themselves in it. We are delighted to leave you the pleasure of reading it.
Why a book on fintech, why this title and to whom is it addressed?
The book wants to give indications and advice to some of the 280,000 bank employees and 220,000 insurance sector employees currently working in Italy, as well as to those young people and workers who are interested in starting or redirecting their careers in fintech. The title aims to help outline the professions, skills and competences required to work in the fintech sector, as well as providing a range of information, advice and resources to help acquire the skills needed to work in a particular profession and find a job. The title was suggested to us by the publisher, while I am particularly proud of the subtitle: “Against the wear and tear of modern banking” because it recalls one of the most famous advertisements on Italian television: that of the amaro Cynar “against the wear and tear of modern life”. A slightly nostalgic tribute (even though, as a Millenial, I didn’t live through that period) to the “Milano da bere” and the good old days, which also bears with it a strong invitation to change and an openness to innovation.
In your opinion, what are the clichés about Italian fintech that need to be debunked?
The two clichés to dispel are that there is a lack of capital and a lack of talent. Both cases do not correspond to reality. In Italy, families have been able to set aside assets that are the envy of many: net of real estate, the private savings of individuals and families exceed 4 trillion euros, two and a half times Italy’s GDP. There is no shortage of capital. The problem is that in my opinion we do not know how to use it properly. This is probably due to our low level of financial education. According to Statista’s data, excluding the UK and Switzerland, Italy is in 9th position in Europe for Venture Capital investments, ahead of countries like Denmark, Norway, Estonia, Austria and Portugal, but far behind Germany, France and Sweden. There is still a long way to go, and I am cheering on CDP’s initiative with the National Innovation Fund and the edufin committee. As far as talent is concerned, and therefore education and training, we have the problem of the so-called ‘skill-mismatch’: the failure to match the employment needs of companies with the characteristics of the available workforce. Universities are slowly adapting their study paths, integrating into more classic and traditional study paths those courses that enable young people to acquire the skills that are then required by universities. I am thinking, for example, of the introduction of courses on programming, machine learning, data production and analysis, text mining and sentiment analysis, to name but a few. Furthermore, I find this a cliché about Italian fintech that needs to be debunked because abroad there are many examples of Italian fintech entrepreneurs who are succeeding, I will mention two out of all hoping not to antagonise all the other good ones I leave out: Carlo Gualandri of Soldo and Stefano Vaccino of Yapily. In our book we also provide useful tips for reskilling and upskilling the workforce within banks and insurance companies.
In this last year, marked by the health emergency, what has surprised you about the fintech world and why?
I was positively surprised by the incumbent desire for dialogue and collaboration. There have been many success stories: the “Italianonsiferma” initiative by Banca Generali and Credimi, a digital solution that has enabled the bank to provide funding to companies in difficulty within a few days, and the agreement between Intesa SanPaolo and October to name but a few.
Now let’s direct our talk to those international realities that are looking with interest at Italian fintech. What indications would you give them to be better orientated in this world?
First of all, you certainly need to talk to the main players in the market, so a chat with Fintech District is a must! Secondly, together with Fintastico we are already supporting some international companies to make themselves known and position themselves in the Italian market through digital PR services, content marketing, reviews, affiliate marketing and lead generation. With the growth of traffic on our platform, we provide innovative financial services providers (whether fintech or incumbents) with access to a highly qualified audience interested in fintech news, enabling them to grow their business and find their first customers.
If you were to write a second volume in one year’s time, what would you like to call it?
Good question! I honestly haven’t thought about it yet. What I can tell you though is that there will definitely be a second book… stay tuned and stay fintech!
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