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Mexico’s battles for tech independence

Achieving technological independence is still a struggle in Mexico. The industrialization of the country came late and when it did, it was only as an importer of technology rather than developing it.

Mexico has been characterized for many years by its importation of technology and lack of its development. However, there are efforts within the country to transform this panorama.

September 16 is the national day of Mexico. Unlike other countries, Mexico’s national day is not the day it signed its independence, which was September 21, 1821. Nor does it celebrate its current constitution, signed on February 5, 1917. In Mexico, the celebration alludes the day he began his process for independence, started by the cry of the priest Don Miguel Hidalgo in the church of a small town called Dolores.

Some Mexicans refuse to celebrate the country’s Independence because ‘it does not exist’, they say. However, I consider it significant that the country celebrates the beginning of a process and not its consummation. Mexico managed to conform itself as a nation and cease to be a colony of Spain, but in many ways it is not yet an independent country.

Achieving technological independence is still a struggle in Mexico. The industrialization of the country came late and when it did, it was only as an importer of technology rather than developing it. However, many Mexicans struggle to change this situation. These are some examples of Mexican innovations in the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Mexico, Fintech leader in Latin America

Mexico City is considered the top Latin American Fintech entrepreneurship hub, according to the report ‘The impact of Fintech innovations in Mexico’ prepared by Startbootcamp Fintech together with the consulting firm Ernst & Young (EY).

In addition to this, Mexico continually competes against Brazil as the leader of the Fintech sector in the region. In May 2019, Finnovista ranked it as the leader in digital financial services in Latin America, surpassing Brazil.

Among the Mexican fintechs that have seen the success, we have the crowd equity platform Play Business, as well as P2P Lending services such as Prestadero and Doopla, which recently obtained 10 million pesos of investment. However, in Mexico, we have not yet seen the case of a successful unicorn like the Brazilian digital bank Nubank.

In Mexico, it was feared that fintech law regulation would discourage innovations within the sector. Despite the fears, Mexican fintechs have continued to grow, paying to achieve financial independence in a banking ecosystem dominated by foreign companies.

Guadalajara, a Silicon Valley in Mexico?

For several years ago, the government of Jalisco has promoted, together with the federal government, the Guadalajara Metropolitan Area (ZMG) to become a hub for innovation and talent in Latin America.

The project is called Digital Creative City, which for several years has sought to recover the area around Parque Morelos in the Guadalajara capital to promote enterprises related to animation, video games, and technology.

Added to this, the ZMG is already home to several manufacturing technology companies. Also, thanks to the region’s universities, small and medium-sized software companies have settled in the city and its surroundings, to the point that it is now one of the preferred destinations for Nearshoring.

The battles for technological independence

With development projects and the promotion of business creation, Mexico is halfway to achieving technological independence. However, there are still many pending tasks that make it difficult to meet this goal.

Among the problems facing the country are:

  •     Internet coverage: the Mexican population is one of those with the best Internet access in Latin America. However, the country’s territorial coverage still leaves much to be desired and rural areas are still largely neglected, where the poorest population lives. The country needs to continue its efforts to close digital gaps.
  •     Technologic education. How much talent there is in a country is one of the criteria that companies usually consider when migrating to a city. In some areas of Mexico, technology careers have been promoted. However, in many cases these schools are disconnected from the needs of companies and graduates have problems finding work later.
  •     Lack of state investment: In the past six-year term, the Mexican government began with a timid effort to promote innovation and technological development in strategic areas such as artificial intelligence and robotics. However, the current administration has changed its priorities. The country’s state investment in these areas is still well below the OECD average, while the country does not paint on the world stage in technological development, as it happens to the rest of Latin America.

Despite the great challenges facing the country, we often find stories of entrepreneurs and innovators who develop solutions to the problems facing the country, companies that bet on Mexican talent and startups that achieve international recognition.

The war for independence took more than 10 years. Mexico’s jump to a developed country will not be easier.

Read also: Top 5 Tech cities of Mexico

By Juan Paulo Pérez-Tejada

I've studied Linguistics at the National School of Anthropology and History. I'm interested in NLP and Full-stack web development.

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