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FinTech Female Fridays: Jackie Hyland, Angel Investor, Advisor and Head of Mexico, a55

What attracted you to the LATAM FinTech space and lending space; specifically, Mexico?

My interest in Latin America (and thus, Mexico) stemmed from an overall passion to find solutions to issues in emerging markets and places that were going through unique economic changes. I spent a few years as a seed stage investor at Accion Venture Lab and from there I saw the huge need for debt capital in emerging markets.

The companies I was funding in equity needed debt to grow, and the local markets didn’t have many options -- so, when I went to work at Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) from San Francisco, I wanted to look at the products SVB had set up in the United States and find a way to grow that internationally. Through my time both as a banker and equity investor in Silicon Valley and Washington D.C., I was staring at this funding need for businesses and decided I could jump right in and build a company that addressed this need in a technological way. This is when I joined the FinTech, a55, because I believe that tech companies deserve tech solutions. 

There has been a lot of news where Latin America is ripe for disruption within the FinTech space; what do you think will help elevate these countries to become global leaders in the space?

A few things; one, faster banking and FinTech partnerships. Many banks are interested in this space but have been slow to take real bets in Latin America. Two, faster global expansion -- we get some push back about why we are launching in two countries so quickly. In order to be a global player and compete with markets like India and China, the Americas (including the U.S.) need to begin to act more as an economic and trade bloc.

Similarly, as I’ve looked outside Latin America, there are many cross-border learnings and commonalities between emerging market countries. Once FinTechs realize these similar needs, it can be a baseline for fast expansion.

How do you think debt capital is changing due to new technology in the sector? How do you think this will help Latin America?

Debt capital is changing rapidly because the new economy is demanding it. Businesses that use the internet to provide goods and services are growing at an exponential rate and often do not have the traditional loan collateral banks need. Earlier this year, I wrote 'Reflections on Debt Venturing in Latin America' about how debt is changing, and my main takeaway is that there are international players willing to go into Latin America, but there’s a lack of local players ready to take the leap—which is why we built a55.

What do you think is the emerging trend in FinTech for Mexico in Q1 of 2020?

A large emerging trend is non-banking or fintech players starting to offer financial services. For example, cash delivery and digital payments from companies like Rappi and Grin.

Women are a minority in the FinTech space; especially in Latin America. How are you encouraging more women to join the space and promote other women?

I think one of the best ways to encourage more women to join the space and promote other women is by being a visible example in the industry. The simple act of being a noticed leader in this space and gives younger women examples of what they can do in the future.

Similarly, over the last couple of years I’ve asked the conferences I’ve been invited to speak at to include more women and have less “manels” (all male panels). I started an informal and incredibly fun Whatsapp group for women in the fintech space in Latin America, and we hit almost 170 in the group just this week. Being in communication, talking and supporting each other, as well as publicly lifting each other up is a huge part of what I believe in doing to support other women.

Reach out to Jackie on LinkedIn.

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