EDC’s Shanta Paratian met with Anabel Perez, CEO of NovoPayment. Miami-based NovoPayment enables financial services and payments innovation throughout the Americas through a cloud-based, bank-grade platform that supports disbursement, collection and other digital financial services. Working with a variety of regional businesses and financial entities, including MasterCard, NovoPayment uses its own technology and applications to provide a range of services to banked and unbanked individuals and small businesses in Colombia, Mexico, Peru and Venezuela. NovoPayment was founded in Caracas, Venezuela, in 2004 and moved its headquarters to Miami in 2007.
What are the top opportunities in Fintech in Latin America?
The top opportunities in Latin America that we’re pursuing are enabling banks and FIs around real-time payments, digital mass payouts and cash-in services that touch a variety of end-user verticals, and are ultimately born out of collaborations between Fintechs, banks or FIs, acquirers and others.
Being such a cash-intensive region, these are the kinds of B2B and B2B2C financial services that liberate local and regional CFOs, treasury executives and their workforces of notoriously slow, costly (insurance, logistics, transpiration), labor intensive and opaque transactions. They allow our clients to extend value by maximizing visibility and the business customer’s ability to redeploy their cash on hand in markets with relatively high interest rates. In short, a differentiated product and superior customer experience.Each day, these solutions, fundamentally aimed at capturing new deposit and transaction flows for their ecosystem participants, are more and more API-driven.
How will payments evolve in the region for the next 5 years?
I think we’re approaching a tipping point in terms of digital payments technologies in the region, due largely to the adoption of the kinds of APIs I mentioned. Private APIs, Partner APIs and Open/Public APIs are becoming the links that connect new value chains and ecosystems in financial services. Over the next five years, we see banks, financial institutions and others collaborating more closely with Fintech’s – largely behind the scenes and unnoticed by end customers. I think the notion that Fintech’s are some kind of existential threat is already waning.
It’s also interesting to see is how the business dynamic is changing. While you do have banks proactively working with Fintechs, you also have technologically savvy corporate clients asking their banks for these services, which often prompts the approach to the Fintech. And, you’re starting to see it the other way around, where for example, the company’s developers try actual services via our API portal, and then go looking for a bank that will work with us to deploy and become part of our ecosystem.
How is NovoPayment different to other players in Latin America’s Fintech space?
I think we’re different in a few key ways. First, we started in a bank and were spun off as a technology company so; we intimately understand the realities faced by licensed, regulated institutions. It’s in our DNA. We’re also a more mature company -- a scale-up rather than a start-up. Also, I think our 10-plus years of experience and more than 70 deployments, working in-market with issuers, program managers and banking agents allow us to see the whole picture -- from the ground up and from end to end. In such a complex business, this makes us better partners in that we’re able to catch things that others might easily (or disastrously) miss. It’s also fair to say that our regional footprint, number of direct integrations and Developer Hub (API portal) set us apart.
This combination, I think is unusual among Fintech’s in that many are technologists and developers first, often with little or limited inside FI experience, have a shorter term, exit-oriented company and business view, and perhaps a very narrow role or area of expertise.
What do you do in your spare time? What are your hobbies?
I love to read. Periodicals, fiction, non-fiction, 10Ks – everything! Covering such a broad region, I tend to spend a lot of time in airplanes and such, so it’s a way to enjoy time that is otherwise not so enjoyable. I guess you could say my hobby is satisfying my own curiosity!