You can bank on more fintech innovations coming out of South Florida.
Three companies based or with offices in South Florida -- Decentral Bank, Monipulse and Centric-Consulting -- are finalists in the Citi Mobile Challenge, a global competition that invited developers to reimagine digital banking and present solutions.
Finalist competitions were held in Silicon Valley, New York and on Friday in Miami. Up for grabs: a $100,000 cash prize and having the winning solutions launched by Citi.
The three companies were among the 20 that presented at a Demo Day in downtown Miami. For example, Master Branch, the team's name for Decentral Bank, are a group of three FIU students, Uwe Cerron, Irvin Steve Cardenas and Juan Daniel Alvarado, and a fourth student from Stonehill College, Daniel Doherty, with experience developing decentralized Bitcoin applications and a hyper-scale distributed financial system, as well as robotics and machine learning and artificial intelligence algorithms, they said.
To be chosen as a finalist wasn't easy. The Citi Mobile Challenge received participation from more than 3,000 developers across 740 teams from 62 countries in North America, Latin America, Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia. Winners will be announced Dec. 2.
"Citi is reaching out to the developer community because we believe that the next generation of solutions will come from collaboration with a rich ecosystem of like-minded innovators," said Heather Cox, Citi's Chief of Client Experience for Global Consumer Banking. "The response from developers has been astounding, and we are excited to accelerate some of these ideas and bring them to life for our clients all over the world."
Jorge Ruiz, who heads Citi's Business Development and Digital Banking for Latin America, a division based in Miami, said this Challenge grew out of one Citi ran for Latin America in the summer; Citi is already working with three of the winners in that Challenge to bring the concepts to market.
Ruiz, who also runs Citi's digital acceleration global program, said he has seen growing interest in fintech here as shown by the growth of companies like Miami-based mobile banking and payments company YellowPepper. "There are many and they are growing, and the whole point is to create more of those fintech solutions that could grow in Miami and hopefully the world," said Ruiz. He also said Citi will be holding challenges in other parts of the world.
Citi will be launching a series of fintech meetups in Miami and around the world to bring together the fintech community of developers, investors and mentors to create new solutions for the fintech space. The first one will be at The LAB Miami on Dec. 3, he said.
Here is the complete list of finalists that presented at the Citi demo day on Friday: Anzen Soluciones, Brillada, Epam Systems, Critical Mass, TSW SRL, Mitek, Swarm NYC, Marqeta, Flow Networks, Nu Data Security, Pidelo Rapido, Soon To Be, Fuzz Productions, Persistent Systems, Master Branch, Monipulse, Cellum, Infymous, Centric-Consulting.
YellowPepper and EarlyShares were among the local sponsors and judges for the Citi contest. Manny Medina of eMerge Americas, also a supporter, gave a keynote speech at the all-day event held at the Dupont building.