Sep 14, 2020

Mouro Capital: meet the $400m fintech VC firm

Santander
Mouro Capital
Fintech
Joanna England
2 min
Mouro Capital, Santander's VC spin out, aligns with fintech entrepreneurs to build the future of digital financial technology
Mouro Capital, Santander's VC spin out, aligns with fintech entrepreneurs to build the future of digital financial technology...

Spanish multinational banking giant Santander has announced its fintech venture capital arm will now be managed more independently.

Established in 2014 as Santander InnoVentures, the VC has been re-branded and relaunched as Mouro Capital. The operation which continues to be headed up by the VC’s general partner, Manuel Silva Martinez, and senior advisor Chris Gottschalk, maintains Santander as Mouro Capital’s sole investor. However, Santander has committed to doubling the VC’s investment funds to US$400bn.

Mouro Capital invests in the future of financial services, by backing entrepreneurs and businesses based in Europe, Latin America and North America, and concentrates on improving processes through implementing automation and real-time applications into banking infrastructure.

The VC also looks at how banking services can be delivered through Application Programming Interfaces, what new client value propositions are emerging in developed and developing markets and how new technology such as AI, blockchain and quantum computing, is changing the banking system.

Mouro Capital already has an impressive portfolio of clients and are currently searching for new ventures to invest in. SMEs that are industry-defining, and showing signs of early growth, are the main target market. They can invest up to $15m initially, while “reserving additional capital for future rounds” and are open to co-investors.

Explaining how Mouro Capital differs from its previous identity as Santander InnoVentures, Manuel Silva Martínez recently told the tech industry journal TechCrunch; “Santander InnoVentures was fairly optimised as a corporate venture capital fund in terms of operations and speed of investment. However, the evolution into the Mouro Capital structure allows for extra alignment with entrepreneurs and co-investors (their success being the number one objective), even faster, nimbler processes, and potentially a bolder investment strategy within the themes and investment policy agreed with our Limited Partner.”

He explained that changing the Santander InnoVentures branding offered better, legal separation, and that, “shifting to a separate brand reduces any potential affiliation that entrepreneurs may fear as potentially conflicting.”

In the short-term, Mouro Capital is investing in technologies that enable clients to transition into the digital market through better processes. Martínez said the VC was looking at challenges involving automation and real-time applications, richer data ecosystems, and how finance could be embedded in third-party journeys.

As a long term strategy, he added that Mouro Capital will evolve and cross over to other industries, by investigating industry integration, how white spaces are driven forward by investments, and the continuing role of money in a data-driven environment.

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Jun 10, 2021

FIVE things fintechs must do to keep investors onboard

Fintech
Investment
venturecapital
AI
Brandon Rembe, CPO, Envestnet...
4 min
Fintech innovations drew in first-time investors who reshaped the markets. What new advancements will help them continue their rise?

New investors flocked to the stock market during the COVID-19 pandemic. Thirty-eight percent of investors said they had never had a brokerage or similar account before opening one in 2020.

Low or no-fee trading options have helped accelerate the trend – nearly half of new investors said they accessed their account primarily through a mobile app. As FinTechs, how do we create the trust needed to keep new investors in the market and create a fruitful customer experience for them?

The financial industry does a disservice to individual investors if we merely offer tools that focus on making money quickly, an approach that usually backfires. Instead, the surge of interest presents an enormous opportunity for those who want to help more consumers use financial technology to educate them on responsible spending, saving, and investing in order to achieve financial wellness current fintech tools have welcomed individual investors in the door.

Now, it’s time to focus on education and improving their experience going forward. There are several ways those of us in fintech can step up to shape the future of retail investing so that it works better for everyone, starting with the following areas.

Equal access to financial wellness education

Financial health should be available to everyone — but today, not everyone has the educational resources to achieve it. One study shows that only 3.9% of students from low-income schools were required to take a personal finance class. What they aren’t learning in school or from family members, fintech companies can provide on their platforms.

The companies should move from solely offering financial services to a more responsible model of education, advice, and prescriptive choices to help consumers develop better habits and make wiser financial decisions. Not only can they empower consumers and bridge historical wealth divides, but they can also stimulate growth by opening up new consumer segments.

More personalisation

Just as we’ve come to expect that our fitness routines are tailored to our individual bodies, we’re also ready for finance tools that go beyond one-size-fits-all solutions. But only six percent of financial institutions say they’re using the kind of technology that allows them to deliver a deeply personalized experience. Fintech tools need to reflect that financial success looks different for each of us.

For one consumer, it may mean providing guidance on how to pay off student loans early; for another, it may mean prescriptive actions that enable them to stick to a budget for the first time; for a third, it could look like prioritizing environmental, social and governance (ESG) investments, so that her portfolio aligns with her political beliefs.

Now, we are seeing financial technology beginning to meet the demands of personalized finance in a substantial and meaningful way.

The rise of AI-Powered Advice

Big-picture advice and predictive guidance used to be a feature of high-end financial advisory firms — a perk only available to those who could afford it. But thanks to rapid advancements in data analytics and artificial intelligence (AI), that kind of holistic advice is now more accessible than ever. AI-driven robo-advisors can parse many different streams of financial information, delivering customized answers to key questions: Is it time to buy a home, or is it smarter to keep renting? Can I afford to take out another student loan?

Intelligent connectivity powered by AI can anticipate consumers’ needs and next steps, making proactive suggestions that guide them along the path to financial wellbeing. Fintech companies can also help consumers identify when their financial picture becomes too complex for a robo-advisor, and help them find a human financial advisor to meet their needs. 

Focus on financial mental health

New investors are quickly finding that the market can be overwhelming. That’s not surprising, financial anxiety is common and studies show that financial stress can have an impact on mental health for some.

It’s not enough for fintech companies to give retail investors access; they also must provide the guidance and support that help consumers manage their financial well-being. Educational tools can ensure that consumers are well informed about their options.

Predictive analytics can anticipate consumers’ questions, serving them key information and insights before they ask. Features that emphasize a comprehensive notion of financial well-being, rather than short-term wins and losses, can also help ensure that consumers are keeping their eyes on the bigger picture.

Gamification for good

The surge of gamification apps has done an impressive job making investing as engaging as playing a video game or joining a social media platform.

Much of the current use of gamification emphasizes short-term thinking, but there’s also an opportunity to help consumers think more broadly about their overall financial picture. One example is peer benchmarking, a feature that enables help consumers to see how their financial habits compare to those of friends and fellow consumers.

Gamification can also be used to incentivize making smaller, smarter choices — for example, rewarding saving over making an impulse buy.

The future of fintech is about more than just broadening access to the markets. It’s about making sure more individuals have access to the tools that can help improve their financial well-being—in the ways that suit their own circumstances and needs. The potential to act within their own set of individual priorities, with their long-term financial wellness in mind is much more empowering to a consumer than simply relying on short-term, high-risk investments.

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