June 1, 2016
The LTP Team had the pleasure of interviewing one of the top professionals in the financial services industry and a judge for the MEDICI Blockchain Top 21 Awards for Latin American countries: Jose Córdova, FinTech consultant with extensive experience as a CTO of some of the largest financial institutions in Bolivia, and currently a FinTech consultant advising IP-based voice communication systems deployments as well as business intelligence applications.
LTP: Could you please tell us about yourself and your professional experience in the financial services industry?
Jose Córdova: I hold a university degree in Economics and Mathematics and my professional career has been in the FinTech sector. I have been the CTO for several of the largest financial institutions in the country including the Central Bank of Bolivia, the largest private consumer bank, as well as microfinance institutions, the local bankers association and others. I was also chief architect for the modernization of the country's electronic payment systems. Currently, I work as a consultant for FinTech, advising IP-based voice communication systems deployments as well as business intelligence applications.
LTP: You have quite an extensive and impressive experience in the financial services industry. Could you please share your insights on the FinTech ecosystem in Bolivia? What is the state of blockchain-related initiatives, in particular?
JC: Bolivia has a modern payment consumer and banking systems. The use of debit cards is commonplace and the principal financial institutions have ATMs in almost all cities and towns. All debit and credit cards issued in the country have EMV chips and all ATMs and POS read these chips.
There is a nationwide electronic ACH run by the private banks which facilitates interbank transfers originated in clients' Internet and mobile banking applications. Likewise, the central bank operates an electronic on-line RTGS for the country's banks. Both these systems use the same architecture namely SOAP (web service) XML messaging with PKI authentication.
There are some electronic wallet initiatives run by one of the largest cell phone operators and some banks but its consumer use is not widespread yet.
The use of virtual currencies is not allowed by the central bank and other applications of the blockchain are still in infancy, but it is expected that new efforts to highlight the advantages of this technology will soon bear fruit, considering that several Bolivian companies currently develop software for export.
LTP: What are some of the emerging trends that you see in the financial services industry?
JC: The more specialized fields of financial services (stock brokers and the like) in the country have evolved comparatively less in FinTech, so it is expected that the innovations that are pending for this sector will incorporate newer technologies such as the blockchain. It is also noteworthy that the country is a regional leader in microfinance, a field that requires much more innovation to remain profitable in comparison to the traditional banking segments. Likewise, other sectors such as the national ID card system are candidates for technical innovation. The modernization of these other systems is complementary to the productivity of FinTech.
LTP: We are delighted to have you on board for judging the Latin American batch of blockchain startups participating in MEDICI Blockchain Top 21 Award. Thank you for being a part of our initiative to foster blockchain-powered innovation.
JC: It is an honor to participate as a judge evaluating the best blockchain FinTech initiatives from Latin America. This continent has a notable tradition of software development, especially for the financial sector. To retain its market presence in the coming age of very sophisticated virtual services, it is imperative that the current FinTech Latin American base takes up on the blockchain technology which was recently labeled by an IBM executive as a coming "tectonic shift."