Last week we got in touch with one of our most driven alumni, Alberto Mello, the CEO of VisaNet Uruguay. What’s remarkable about Alberto, is that after spending nearly 3 decades in traditional banking he took a leap of faith to break into the Fintech industry – one that is accelerating with change much faster than any other sector. As Alberto shifted gears in his career, he leveraged his knowledge in banking to create a big impact in the financial technology arena – which he now proudly does as the CEO of a booming fintech in Uruguay. His journey is inspiring for many navigating a career transition from traditional finance to fintech.
Alberto Mello’s Career in Finance
Alberto Mello has been working in the banking industry since 1984, spanning across several roles including commercial and operational roles, as a team leader, leading several projects and also as the head of retail and wealth management to the C-Suite level as a CEO. One of the most challenging roles in Alberto’s recent career was as a team leader of digital transformation at HSBC Uruguay in 2019/20. It was then that Alberto needed CFTE to broaden his expertise and further understand the fintech ecosystem.
From Traditional Finance to Fintech CEO
CFTE: You’ve recently become the CEO at VisaNet, could you tell us what VisaNet does and where does it operate?
Alberto: VisaNet is the sole acquirer for Visa cards in Uruguay. We allow merchants to accept Visa debit and credit cards and we process operations for these merchants, the issuer banks, and also manage a network of POS terminals to channel all transactions.
CFTE: Leading a Fintech in LATAM, how would you describe the state of Fintech and the opportunities in Latin America?
Alberto: LATAM in general and Uruguay, in particular, are identified as fast-growing fintech areas together with Asia. There is a strong gap between available technology versus what we currently use, evidencing the size of the opportunity. Sectors in the industry, like financing, e-commerce, and most of all telemedicine will be one of the biggest growth opportunities in the region.
CFTE: What is your mission in your new role as CEO of VisaNet?
Alberto: Visanet is a fintech-like company. This is why I believe we need to embrace a lot more new technology to deliver solutions to customers in a competitive landscape. In addition to this, I am also driven to unleashing the combined power of new verticals related to data analytics and aggregation, while also striving to increase the members of our digital network.
CFTE: What motivated you to enter Fintech after more than 3 decades in banking?
Alberto: Payment systems are revolutionising globally, and the dynamics and speed of change in this ecosystem is far more attractive than traditional banking. Additionally, the merchant acquiring business is very complex and is changing radically, and I wanted to be part of such a revolution from within, taking advantage of my previous experience in banking.
CFTE: For those looking to transition from a long career in traditional finance into a more dynamic Fintech space, what is the value that they bring to Fintech?
Alberto: The experience on brings from banking is extremely relevant when entering the fintech space in 3 dimensions: First, methodology – you can pick and use global best practices to improve activities taking the good elements and without the lack of flexibility we usually face at international banks. It adds real value. Second, empathising with the customer. Sometimes a tech initiative may forget whether it is solving people’s problems, and you see that demand constantly in banks. Last, but not least, the financial view and scrutiny when evaluating ideas and projects that one’s experience thank banking provides, helps one to take good care of the company’s financial affairs.
CFTE: What would be your advice to a young graduate looking to start a career in the Finance sector?
Alberto: The experience you can gain in the banking industry is extremely valuable, especially if you work in global institutions and have the opportunity to learn global best practices. After gaining that experience, I would suggest moving to more dynamic sectors, usually those related to digital and tech. By doing this you will have the opportunity to take most of your banking experience and leverage your career and expectations.
Alberto is a valued part of our Alumni community, and we are grateful to see him flourish in his professional career. His shift from banking to a digitally-driven fintech world is a brave move and one that he has used to his advantage. His story helps professionals contemplating a shift realise that embracing the right digital technologies and skills can help you disrupt fintech, even with a traditional finance background.