Avaloq chairman unleashes entrepreneurial flair for social good
Financial technology is a big growth sector, and one hugely successful fintech player is utilizing his entrepreneurial flair and know-how to aid social ventures in rural India
Francisco Fernandez has built one of the largest financial technology firms in the world that includes a growing business across Asia. But his firm Avaloq is not the only thing he cares about in the region as he shares about his passion for social impact investing.
The Avaloq founder and group chairman spoke to The Asset while he was in Singapore to address the Asian leg of the payments, fintech and financial services event Money20/20.
Under the leadership of Fernandez, Avaloq, a Swiss-based software company, has developed a wide footprint across Asia.
His firm’s customers include Maybank, CITIC Bank International, Agricultural Bank of China, Thailand’s Kasikornbank and Singapore’s largest lender, DBS. There is also a well-established partnership with Deutsche Bank in the region.
Doing good and giving back
While Avaloq is Francisco Fernandez’s baby, his recent involvement in social ventures in India is also close to his heart.
A friend founded a social venture company a couple of years ago in the country and when Fernandez visited, he realized he could help and is now invested and committed to driving several social impact ventures.
Fernandez beams with pride as he scrolls through scores of images of his ventures in India, one of a citrus production plant, another of a banana plantation, and one of a small dairy farm.
Through the use of technology combined with his entrepreneurial flair, Fernandez is achieving optimum outcomes at his ventures, but clarifies that these projects are not charities. The aim is to help the beneficiaries help themselves and their families.
“When we started, this farmer had one cow and now he has 10 cows. For each cow, he used to get two and a half litres of milk, now it's nine and a half litres of milk, and he has a business plan to go to 25 cows,” Fernandez says.
“We introduced technology and infrastructure to this high-value product, we made it cleaner and more digestible through a small laboratory, where we undertake a chemical analysis of the milk and if it’s good, he gets a better daily price,” he adds.
Fernandez says he is an entrepreneur who solves challenges and builds things and he has applied his experience to these social ventures in India.
“We are helping to solve the problems, bring scalability, bring optimization to the rural value chain, this is what it's all about,” Fernandez says.
Dynamic Asian outlook
More generally, he is excited about the future prospects in Asia, as both emerging and frontier markets further develop and embrace financial technology. He envisages sustained demand for his firm’s products and services here.
“Our sweet spot is wealth management and private banking, because it's the most complex type of banking, the more complex banking is, the better we are suited,” says Fernandez.
“Vietnam, Malaysia, everywhere is developing in Asia and because it's first-generation money, this is a more dynamic kind of progress,” Fernandez says.
One main area of current and future focus for Avaloq according to Fernandez, is shifting banking to the cloud. He is working on expanding the use of so-called private clouds with banks, storing their data in private clouds where Avaloq guarantees that the sovereignty of the data is controlled by the bank and that the data resides in the same country.
“Everything about the cloud is sharing resources, flexibility, scalability, availability. These are all the benefits of using the cloud and of course it has an impact on the usage of resources, and ultimately it has a big impact on costs,” says Fernandez.
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