Wallets in Argentina: Bye-bye ank and hello YOY
International banks are adopting diverging positions when it comes to developing digital wallets in Argentina. While Itaú Unibanco has decided to close its wallet, ank, the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) has introduced its own proposal, YOY, targeted at Generation Z.
The decisions raise the question of how much room exists in the digital wallet market in Argentina, a country that’s home to heavyweights such as Ualá and Mercado Pago.
"We need more and better fintechs,
solutions, and talent to solve the thousand pending financial needs of Argentine society," Javier Buitrago, an Argentine specialist in digital payments and CEO of Zinli, a Panamanian wallet, tells iupana.
"We are only at 1% of what needs to be done [in Argentina], and we will see solutions looking to create the financial system of the future will continue to appear," he says.
Itaú said in June it had suspended investments in ank and has now confirmed the platform will be shut down on July 29. It said the decision is a consequence of the global economic context.
Despite the difficult climate, ICBC debuted its new wallet, YOY, with the aim of attracting young users with fashion, fitness and gaming features as well as the option of a savings account and virtual debit card.
According to Buitrago, while it’s a crowded field—there are more than 35 digital wallets operating in Argentina—the sector’s potential is clear. Half of the
population has already used QR codes to make a payment, he says.
"Undoubtedly, there is still a lot of room for new solutions that create value for the community. While the departure of ank is sad news, the entry of new solutions that improve the financial life of Argentines is a moment of great joy and something to celebrate," says the executive.