Bureaucracy was meant to make life more structured and organised. But over time, we have turned it into something that actually harms people. And it’s not just the governmental procedures that keep bureaucracy alive. Bureaucracy comes in many shapes and forms, and has become part of our culture. We have normalised the unnecessary administrative burden and lengthy procedures. This is why bureaucracy has turned into a gatekeeper that blocks us from living the life we want. And the pain of it is most felt by underprivileged people.
We want to stop this. We are building a movement where people’s voices are heard and where the status quo is constantly challenged. We are collecting stories, analysing them, measuring the impact in the lives of millions. And deciding what to solve next.
Our vision is to create a private sector ecosystem for procedures. And we aim to do that by tackling taxes. Speeding up economic transactions. And enabling access to everyone.
We believe this is the way to eliminate bureaucracy. And our first quest starts with taxes.
Bringing the future for everyone else
Ernesto and I (Thomas writing) met in the second half of 2019 while living in Estonia. A country you probably have never heard of, and if you have, you probably correlate it to technology.
Estonia’s story is fascinating, a nation that was occupied by the Soviet Union, after reclaiming its independence, raised itself into one of the leading digital societies and digital governments on the entire planet.
We never thought of living in a community where it doesn’t take a lifetime to get your papers for selling a house. Or where you are given your university diploma the day you graduate, or where establishing a company takes less than 15 minutes.
For once, we felt we lived in the future. And we found it truly upsetting. Back home, in Mexico and Brazil, we had never heard of this. We thought it’s normal to queue for hours. To print our documents. To always carry folders with us. Put it this way — wasting our time was our lifestyle, and we thought this was OK.
This made us react- we felt that we simply needed to bring the future closer for everyone else. For this, we had to find a pattern, which resulted in a common enemy that has been making things difficult for us.
An enemy that was hard to pronounce. An enemy we know as bureaucracy. And full disclaimer — we know in some places the government is the first thing that comes to mind, but we don’t mean that. We mean the excessively complicated administrative procedures, the bureaucracy found in every area of life.
Our first stop in the journey is in Mexico.
The Mexican challenge
If there’s something you should know about Thomas and I (Ernesto writing), it’s that we are two very optimistic dudes.
We believe in emerging economies. We truly believe that Mexico is a sleeping giant, a country big enough to eliminate as many forms of bureaucracy as possible in the minimum amount of time.
We are aware that this might sound bold to you, but we have three main facts that represent why Mexico is the place for us to start our quest of eliminating bureaucracy:
- Mexico has decentralised governance. It is a federal republic consisting of 32 states. This means freedom for every state. They have the right to change laws, directives, processes unilaterally. More exciting it’s the fact you can find further decentralised municipalities where even faster progress can be made in a matter of days.
- Mexico was the first country to make FINTECH a real thing in the Americas. They published the first law stating how a fintech could be born, making it easy for banks and new players to decide to either embrace or lag behind a fierce financial innovation. This is ruthless competition.
- Mexico’s population is a mobile-first population. Mexico has one of the highest smartphone penetrations in the world, and is one of the top countries in the region for the number of mobile internet users. Close to 90 million Mexicans out of the total 130 million population use mobile internet on a regular basis.
- Mexico has one of the highest startup activity in the region. This means it will become easier to find and recruit top talent, and build globally impactful businesses.
Mexico, with almost 130 million inhabitants, has the potential to set worldwide precedents. The question is — if there’s governance flexibility, a strong financial system, and a powerful workforce, what on earth is going wrong?
The real problem
We had a couple of assumptions, but we felt the need to truly hear what Mexicans got to say.
So back in April, we decided to ask people what sucks the most about bureaucracy. In less than a week, 300 entrepreneurs told us that their biggest bureaucratic pains were banks and the tax bureau.
We found three main variables contributing to the banking and accounting industry lagging behind:
- Cash culture. The users’ digital literacy levels in Mexico are lower compared to most of the West. And this is taking much longer to change compared to similar countries in the region, we believe the dependency on cash (physical) disturbs the progress of digital adoption.
- Confusing tax system. Oh, what a confusion, with more than 10 tax regimes, 600 possible activities to choose from, confusing declaration schedules, no one truly knows how to handle it.
- Status Quo. It’s hard to seek change when you are encapsulated in a world where you are used to a typical service-oriented distribution, meaning nothing was built to satisfy your needs
The proof? There are several accounting firms and individual accountants out there that haven’t changed the way they operate in the last 20 years. Don’t get us wrong, many of them are doing terrific work with what’s available. We know, however, that this has not been enough.
You can’t easily register with the tax authority, invoice clients, get a bank account and automate your declarations fully online in one place. And if you could, with the current behaviour of firms, it would cost a fortune.
The team and progress
We have been lucky enough to find incredible people who care about bringing the future for everyone else and understand the importance of defeating our common enemy one step at a time.
We are excited to be working with serial entrepreneurs coming from places such as Linio, Nubank, RD Station and Awari in Brazil, and Wise and Bolt in Estonia. If you feel passionate about what we’re doing, we’re hiring! See positions open here.
Our secret plans
But we are just getting started. We envision a world where every single individual can access every category of consumption in a transparent, fair and easy way. We aim to do that by creating a private sector ecosystem for procedures that includes all individuals in the society.
Our thinking shifts
Bureaucracy has become part of our culture. To change this, we have to change the way we think. At Nobe, we want to impact the way we do and view taxes. We want to speed up economic transactions. And most importantly, we want to make sure that everyone has equal access to services.
1. We need to turn paying taxes into an economic incentive
Bureaucracy affects the most people who have opted out from paying taxes. Whether that be due to complex procedures or short-term economic gains. As a result of not properly filing their taxes, people become excluded from social benefits. Accessing services such as loans, healthcare, and pension becomes increasingly more difficult.
We want to make paying taxes simple, and actually turn it into an economic incentive.
2. We need to make the economy real time
Bureaucracy is kept alive by an economy based on cash and physical paperwork. These types of economies often require from its citizens multiple face-to-face hours to complete even one governmental transaction.
But what if all transactions would take only seconds, instead of weeks?
We believe that data exchange layers need to be in place with the government, private sector and individuals in order to get rid of repetitive requirements.This means collaborating with governments to make various transactions instantaneous.
We aim to create an environment where all the transactions between business entities are in digital format, increasingly automatically generated, and completed as they occur. We want to speed up governmental transactions by creating a digital private sector ecosystem for procedures.
3. Make it equally accessible, for everyone.
We believe every single individual should be able to access every category of consumption in a transparent, fair and easy way.
We want to build solutions that are accessible and include every individual, regardless of their educational background or economic status.
By achieving this, we believe this will bring us a step closer to a world without bureaucracy.