A bitcoin instant money transfer system for small businesses trading with Asia and a service that allows users to build a credit score on their history of paying utility bills have been declared the winners of BBVA's Open Talent startup contest for LatAm.
The two teams emerged victorious from a field of 16 startups competing for a grand prize of EUR30,000 apiece and participation in a two-week innovation immersion programme in Mexico and London.
For the first times in its seven-year history, the BBVA Open Talent contest focused exclusively on digital companies that specialise in financial services and technologies directly related to the banking industry.
Both of this year's winners, Bitnexo and Destacame.cl, hail from Chile, where their services are already gaining traction with local companies and financial institutions.
Launched in July 2015 by MIT graduates Jorge Camus and Sebastian Ugarte, Destacame.cl was created to help individuals who have no credit history and so are excluded from mainstream financial institutions.
BitNexo breaks down the barriers to using bitcoin by managing the back-end processing so a company can pay its overseas provider using its home currency and banking system. The customers never have to purchase, store, or manage bitcoin.
Gustavo Vinacua, director of innovation centers and open innovation at BBVA, comments: “BBVA Open Talent is a great opportunity to spot the best startups and start building ties to collaborate in the development of a new generation of banking services.”
The focus of the competition now moves to the US and Europe, with a rest-of-the-world final held in New York today, and a European stage in Barcleona next week.