Behind the Idea: Camino Financial

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Amid the Latin American Fintech boom, Camino Financial has expanded their operations by launching their third innovation hub in Bogota, Colombia. On a mission to embrace global mobility, this innovation hub aids the rapid adoption of technological innovations on an international scale. Camino Financial’s business strategy has since been aimed towards promoting growth, innovation, and bridging the gap towards a more financially inclusive world.

Kenneth Salas is the Co-founder and COO of Camino Financial,Kenneth Salas is the Co-founder and COO of Camino Financial,
Kenneth Salas, Co-founder and COO of Camino Financial

Kenneth Salas is the Co-founder and COO of Camino Financial, an AI-powered FinTech platform pioneering affordable small business loans to Latinx small businesses, known for hiring top-tier tech talent across the US and Latin America, and overseeing a team of 100+ tech-driven professionals who create AI-powered lending models to scale capital across the US.

What has been the traditional company response to financial technology innovations nationally?

First and foremost, the financial sector is undergoing a profound transformation. Digital technologies are reshaping payments, lending, and wealth management – a process that the pandemic has only accelerated. Camino Financial has since adapted and created more innovative solutions in an effort to shift into a more diverse, competitive, efficient, and inclusive economy. For example, we have made it our priority to hire new talent to lead our engineering and credit departments. Adding these senior-level professionals have helped automate our credit decisioning by leveraging the power of data science and engineering.

We’ve established a company on the foundations of innovation and in doing so, we have leveraged technology and filled senior-level positions to accelerate a transformation within the underrepresented communities we serve.

How has this changed over the past few years?

Since the launch of Camino Financial in 2014, we began with our initial product of the micro-loan. Fast forward to 2021, we have added a new product loan to better service the underbanked community. We’ve added a loan product designed for Solopreneurs who need cash to start or grow their micro-business, Camino is among the first movers and the best-funded fintech lender to Solopreneurs.

Additionally, our company started out in Los Angeles and then we opened our Mexico office back in 2019. Now, we’ve expanded operations across Latin America (LatAm) with the recent launch of our third innovation hub based in Bogota, Colombia. With a team of over 100 tech-driven associates, Camino aims to promote growth and innovation while building the “camino” towards bridging the gap by leveraging technology to have a more financially inclusive world.

Is there anything that has created a culture of change inside the company?

We have turned the challenges presented in 2020 into opportunities for the future of Camino Financial. In 2021, we expanded our operations and launched our third innovation hub in Bogota, Colombia. The internal culture of the company has centred around retaining the best talent and creating innovation within our teams to propel our mission forward.

Innovative technology has also greatly impacted our People and Talent initiatives and recruitment processes. For example, earlier this year, we began onboarding talent across the U.S and LatAm with one goal in mind — attracting talent on a global scale. As the fintech industry undergoes rapid change, we commit to creating a culture that aligns with the shift taking place within the ecosystem.

What fintech ideas have been implemented?

At Camino Financial, we began anchoring on diversity and financial inclusion — fintech ideas that have and will become increasingly prominent in 2022. By accepting and promoting diversity within our data science teams, the field can rise beyond stereotypes presented in these algorithms. Due to this implementation, we have been able to conduct the largest data-set on the Latinx small business segment.

What benefits have these brought?

The main benefits of implementing financial inclusion as a service in our datasets has led us to build an AI model that creates equitable results for the most unrepresented cohorts. Having access to these underbanked and unbanked consumers has allowed us to reach and capitalise on markets that have been underserved to date. By prioritising diversity in our data sets and practitioners, this form of technology is beneficial as it relates to financial inclusion.

Do you see any other industry challenges on the horizon?

Fintech organisations face various challenges but one challenge that remains in the horizon is Big Data and AI. Implementing this technology to adapt to the digital era  requires expertise and constant maintenance.

If you are already in the banking industry, it will not be easy to integrate the latest technologies into your existing system. Current systems have been in place for decades and Implementing this will require not only technical adjustments but will reshape your business infrastructure.

Can these challenges be aided by Fintech?

These challenges can be aided by accepting and promoting diversity within data science teams, the field can rise beyond stereotypes presented in these algorithms. Truthfully, it’s important to start with a solid foundation. If a data set is missing information from particular populations, using that data to build an AI model may yield results that are inequitable to various groups. From the start, Fintechs must think about ways to improve their data set, design a model to account for data gaps, and – in light of any shortcomings – limit where or how they use this model.

  • Polly is a journalist, content creator and general opinion holder from North Wales. She has written for a number of publications, usually hovering around the topics of fintech, tech, lifestyle and body positivity.

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