Rodrigo Dantas E Silva, EY
Intro: [00:00:08] Broadcasting live from the Georgia World Congress Center for Fintech South 2022. It’s time for Atlanta Business Radio. Brought to you by Atlanta Blockchain Center. Now, here’s your host.
Lee Kantor: [00:00:28] Lee Kantor here back at Fintech South 2022. So excited to be talking to Rodrigo Dantas who is the chair of Fintech South. Welcome, Rodrigo.
Rodrigo Dantas e Silva: [00:00:39] Thank you. How are you, Lee?
Lee Kantor: [00:00:40] I am doing well. So excited to be back in person at Fintech South. I remember the days at the stadium just across the way, so it’s great to see all these folks in person. It must be a joy for you too to leave the Zoom’s little boxes and into the real world.
Rodrigo Dantas e Silva: [00:00:57] It definitely is. So, we can see some of the happiest faces ever, right, and just by walking the halls and talking to people.
Lee Kantor: [00:01:05] Yes, I haven’t shaken this many hands in a long time.
Rodrigo Dantas e Silva: [00:01:08] That’s great. Yes, it’s a good feeling.
Lee Kantor: [00:01:10] So, now, tell us a little bit about Fintech South. What’s kind of the State of the Union?
Rodrigo Dantas e Silva: [00:01:16] Yes, I think this year, we not only wanted to do the Fintech conference, but we wanted to try to touch what we believe are some of the most strategic issues and matters in the industry. So, we’ve been able to define the three major tracks, our pillars, if you want, of themes for the conference and being able to touch on one side all of the digital transformations related to the metaverse, the revolution of the Web 3 and all the opportunities that come out of that. Then, the other sea level conversation that’s very relevant has to do with everything related to inclusion, and it comes from diversity, but it also goes to financial inclusion and how the Fintechs play a role in that. And then, not forgetting the traditional discussion on, you know, disrupting or changing or, you know, molding the financial services industry through Fintechs. So, I think we were able to organize a conference around these three major themes, and it’s been a really high-quality dialog around all of those.
Lee Kantor: [00:02:19] So, now, you have the education component, obviously, in the panels and all the stuff that’s going on. And then, you have the innovation challenges where you have, you know, the startups and seeing that come together. Are you seeing the level of collaboration and cooperation between the enterprise level folks and the startup and the younger folks? Are you seeing some of that come together and seeing some of the fruits of that effort?
Rodrigo Dantas e Silva: [00:02:42] DDefinitely, indeed. So, as you know, I’m chairing the conference this year, but I’m a partner with UI. And it’s interesting because we have been working a lot exactly on that matter. And people ask me, OK, why are you working with Fintech? And then, what’s your UI’s interest in the Fintech space? So, there are many angles for that. But definitely, one of the angles is exactly to be building that bridge. Many of our larger corporations, they want to know more of what’s going on in the Fintech world and they want to know who are the cool ones, the most innovative ones, and who are the ones that better fit their strategies. So, allowing or enabling that connection to be made is definitely an important component in the conference. Like this one is a speed dating opportunity to build those bridges, right?
Lee Kantor: [00:03:37] This is a linchpin event when it comes to that type of a bridge, right? Because this is where you have that combination of folks all in one place.
Rodrigo Dantas e Silva: [00:03:45] That’s very true. And TAG, the Technology Association of Georgia, has that as an important component of its mission, right? And it’s funny, just by looking at the banner of the sponsors here and you see that, right, from the platinum level to the bronze level, you see exactly that. You know, bigger corporations up there, smaller corporations on the other levels. But everybody wants to — wanting to be part of it.
Lee Kantor: [00:04:13] Right. Now, coming from Atlanta, where there are so many different types of industry. And Fintech is an important component of that economic ecosystem that we have here. Some industries seem a little faster to be partnering with startups and creating kind of an ecosystem where they can share information, get to know each other, do deals, maybe, you know, invest a little bit in smaller companies so they have a chance to see what they can be or not be, right? In the Fintech world, we want to be the capital of Fintech, obviously, in the US and the globe, but I think we need more of that. I’m getting a lot of — I’m hearing it from the folks that I’m interviewing here, that a lot of the smaller folks are saying, I wish there was more from the enterprise level. Is there more that can be done in order to create that level of collaboration so that, you know, the rising tide lifts all the boats?
Rodrigo Dantas e Silva: [00:05:08] Definitely, indeed. And that’s a great question, Lee, because it opens up another component. And I do think that Atlanta is uniquely — and Georgia, but it’s uniquely positioned to drive that collaboration to the next level because of the relevance of the payment’s industry here in this region. I do believe that payments is the conduit through which the traditional financial services industry’s boarders are being redefined and —
Lee Kantor: [00:05:38] And it is being redefined because this is an old industry. You know, finance has been around for a minute, you know. But now, finance means so many different things. It’s expanded. Like, at one point, technology — you know, being a tech firm was something. Now, everybody’s a tech firm. And somebody earlier said, now, soon everyone’s going to be a Fintech firm.
Rodrigo Dantas e Silva: [00:05:58] But think about it, when the big tech companies say that they are entering into financial services. If you think of Apple, Google, Amazon, whomever, or even not only technology companies, but when companies say that they are entering financial services, they are not really stepping into right away lending. You know, they are firstly stepping into payments.
Lee Kantor: [00:06:18] Right. I’ll take payment.
Rodrigo Dantas e Silva: [00:06:19] Exactly. So, the payments is that conduit. And that’s why I believe Atlanta being the payments hub that it is and in Georgia being the payments hub that it is and having, you know, a more intentional focus on driving that transformation is where the opportunity really is.
Lee Kantor: [00:06:37] Right. There has to be kind of an opening of the eyes and a widening of the perspective of what this Fintech means and how there’s different ways to touch it and the opportunity that comes with that.
Rodrigo Dantas e Silva: [00:06:50] I definitely agree.
Lee Kantor: [00:06:52] So, now, how — like what are the conversations you’re having? I’m sure you’re having conversations with the companies that the largest level, the largest companies here in town. Are they seeing that or are they still hesitant? Because, you know, it’s a risk averse industry. I mean, it has to be in some ways.
Rodrigo Dantas e Silva: [00:07:06] I think everybody’s seen that this despite of the fact that some are saying and some are not.
Lee Kantor: [00:07:12] Right.
Rodrigo Dantas e Silva: [00:07:12] Everyone has seen the transformation going on. And to some of them, this is a madness. To some of them, there’s an opportunity. And, you know, everybody is seeing, and some are saying some or not, but definitely wanting to weigh in and double down on the understanding so that you can position yourself to be the winner of the new dynamics. Because whatever is the recipe that brought you here is definitely not the one that will take you there.
Lee Kantor: [00:07:40] Right. And you have to kind of lean into this because you don’t know what’s next.
Rodrigo Dantas e Silva: [00:07:45] Indeed. So, there are a few there are few things. I mean, no one knows what’s next, right. But there’s definitely some transformative elements being dropped down out there. And I do believe, you know, that the more pervasive dynamics of instant payments, that’s starting to happen and that will happen even further as Fed now is launched, enabling all the community banks and all of the — you know, the players in the ecosystem to participate in that. This will unleash a whole new number of products and applications and needs of transformation. So, I think we might not know exactly what’s next.
Lee Kantor: [00:08:28] There are some breadcrumbs.
Rodrigo Dantas e Silva: [00:08:29] But there are some — exactly. There are some hints.
Lee Kantor: [00:08:31] So, now, are you like — I think there’s around 400-ish Fintech companies in Georgia now.
Rodrigo Dantas e Silva: [00:08:38] Yes, around there.
Lee Kantor: [00:08:39] And are you bullish on this? Are you seeing more and more? Is it a combination of people coming from other areas saying, oh, I’m going to plant a flag here in Georgia? Or is it just some of these larger companies spinning off smaller companies and a lot of these people who are working in those larger entities going, hey, I’m going to do my own thing here?
Rodrigo Dantas e Silva: [00:09:00] I see some of that. You know, the spinoff from larger. I don’t think that that specifically is going to increase too much. I do think, though, there are two other movements that we can already feel. One, you’ve mentioned, you know, people or companies or startups coming from other geographies to Georgia because of many reasons, right. But, you know, the logistics, the environment, you know, and actually, you know, the amazing work that’s been done on the talent side here in Georgia by my friend, Tommy, and some others. But definitely, you know, having the talent pool here, it’s very competitive, but maybe not as dramatically fierce as some other places. That’s one of the components. But also, I believe, as people start to realize that, that this is an important hub of transformation and can become an even more important hub for a startup environment, we also are — we are also seeing a flow and/or a convergence of the venture capital firms and all of that dynamics also picking up. So, I do believe that there’s no there’s no venture capitalist today in this country that would think of Fintech without having Atlanta as an important part of its strategy.
Lee Kantor: [00:10:26] Right. I remember doing the Fintech South a few years ago and there were people from all over the world were coming in and they were saying, oh, I’m going to a big Fintech conference in America. And they were like, oh, where’s it at, New York or California? And they’re like, no, it’s in Atlanta. And it’s like —
Rodrigo Dantas e Silva: [00:10:44] Yes. Atlanta is a reality for that already. And, you know, I am — you might have already figured from my accent, right? I’m not a native.
Lee Kantor: [00:10:52] It sound like Smyrna. Right? Not Smyrna?
Rodrigo Dantas e Silva: [00:10:55] It’s almost like that, just a little further south, right? I’m originally from Brazil. I moved — UI moved me here five years ago because of the relevance of Atlanta for the payments industry and the Fintech industry. So, they got me, you know, from 1,000 miles south.
Lee Kantor: [00:11:16] South, right.
Rodrigo Dantas e Silva: [00:11:16] And brought to this place, not New York, not San Francisco, not everywhere else. I mean, Atlanta. That was the ask. And I think it was the right move. And it’s been a great journey.
Lee Kantor: [00:11:28] A great journey for you. And thank you so much for your leadership when it comes to this event. It’s so important to this city. It’s so important to the state to have an event like this, to celebrate the work that’s being done and to educate the folks that are in the community of all that can be.
Rodrigo Dantas e Silva: [00:11:45] No, my pleasure. And thank you for the opportunity to be here.
Lee Kantor: [00:11:48] Now, if somebody wants to learn more about Fintech South, obviously, they’re going to learn more about what’s happening here currently, but if in the future they want to attend a future Fintech South, is there a central website for Fintech South?
Rodrigo Dantas e Silva: [00:12:00] It couldn’t be easier than fintechsouth.com. That’s it.
Lee Kantor: [00:12:04] Well, Rodrigo, thank you again for sharing your story. You’re doing important work and we appreciate you.
Rodrigo Dantas e Silva: [00:12:08] Oh, my pleasure. Thank you for the opportunity.
Lee Kantor: [00:12:09] All right. This is Lee Kantor. We’ll be back in a few at Fintech South 2022.
Outro: [00:12:21] This episode has been brought to you by Atlanta Blockchain Center, the catalyst for Atlanta’s emergence as the Premier Blockchain Innovation Hub globally, through cultivating entrepreneurship, inclusivity, and education. To learn more, go to atlblockchaincenter.com.
Fintech South 2022 is a world-class summit with its nexus in Atlanta live and in-person, a global financial technology hub that is home to more than 200 fintech companies. The top 15 public fintech companies in Georgia alone generate more than $100 billion in revenues.