Descubre el futuro de las finanzas en América Latina y el Caribe

The future of finance in LatAm & the Caribbean

O futuro das finanças na América Latina e no Caribe



Update – Will everything become fintech? Companies that branched into finance

May 15, 2023

By Antony Pinedo

We list the Latin American businesses that have diversified into financial services, from retailers such as Walmart and Ripley to digital platforms such as Habi and Rappi

The fintech boom of the last decade has taught other industries a valuable lesson: Companies don’t need to enter the lucrative banking market or have a network of branches and ATMs to offer financial services.

A growing number of firms, from supermarkets to delivery platforms, have seized the opportunity to grab a slice of the financial services market by offering digital accounts to their customers. They identified that, while getting customers through their doors requires a big marketing effort, many sales (physical and virtual) fail at the time of payment.

This is the origin of fast-growing fintechs such as Spin by OXXO, the biggest banking correspondent in Mexico, and Mercado Pago, which started out as a way for Mercado Libre to gain a competitive advantage and accelerate sales by providing a payment channel within its e-commerce platform.

This synergy also generates feedback for different parts of the business, helping them achieve their economic goals, which is something that Nubank achieved only recently after almost 10 years of operation and which Creditas, for example, continues to find elusive.

“If we see digital banks out in the world, fintechs lose money. Those that win are the ones with a parallel business that makes them a quasi-client funnel,” says Julián Colombo, CEO of N5 Now, a financial technology platform.

“If Mercado Pago had been created without the presence of Mercado Libre, the results would be completely different,” he says.

To illustrate this trend, we have updated our roll call of Latin American companies from non-financial branches that established fintech operations with the aim of completing their solution ecosystems, improve the user experience and increase returns.


  1. Walmart México: Cashi

Walmart México, the country’s largest retail chain, recently acquired a license to operate as an electronic payments platform, or IFPE, through its purchase of the fintech Trafalgar. The deal is designed to strengthen the commercial reach of its Cashi digital wallet and attract more customers to its stores.

“There’s been a dramatic change in recent years. [Fintech] is a totally different business model, much more flexible,” says Christopher Luna, CEO of Cashi.

The company is still working on the next steps for its wallet but expects to expand alliances with third parties so they can offer credit via its app and doesn’t rule out becoming a direct credit provider.

  1. Ripley: Chek

Grupo Ripley expanded into financial solutions after almost 70 years in the world of department stores. In 2020, it launched Chek, a digital wallet to facilitate in-store payments.

“Our strategy is to complement different actors within the digital ecosystem,” said Matías Goldsmith, CEO of Chek, in September.

Through Chek, Ripley offers credit, a digital card and a remittance service in conjunction with a partner. Goldsmith said at the time that more than 100,000 businesses accept payments with its wallet in Chile.

  1. Mercado Libre: Mercado Pago

Online marketplace Mercado Libre launched its fintech arm Mercado Pago in 2003, initially to help streamline digital payments on its e-commerce platform. The e-tailer now uses the wallet to reinforce its promotion and discount strategies while attracting customers that don’t buy or sell on Mercado Libre.

In the first quarter, the wallet handled about US$37 billion, compared with US$25.3 billion in the same period of 2022.

Mercado Pago now has more than 50 million users in LatAm and, depending on the market, offers crypto, insurance and credit card services, as well as payment-related services, such as QR Codes and mobile points of sale.

  1. Oxxo: Spin by Oxxo

Spin by Oxxo is the digital wallet belonging to the most popular convenience store chain in Mexico, Oxxo. Femsa, which owns both brands, launched the app in late 2021 and by the end of 2022, it had 3.9 million active users. It aims to increase that figure to 10 million this year.

“Without a doubt, OXXO has contributed significantly to the positioning of our brand, as well as to the acquisition of users thanks to the number of stores,” Marcela Vega, CFO of Digital@Femsa, the group's innovation division, said in December.

Spin by Oxxo allows payments and transfers and also represents a digital alternative for receiving remittances.

In October, the wallet was licensed as a digital payment company by Mexican regulators. In November, Femsa acquired the payment aggregator Netpay, which serves the B2B sector, in anticipation of the group’s entry into the SME segment.

  1. DiDi: DiDi Pay, DiDi Loans and DiDi Card

DiDi, the Chinese ride-hailing platform, launched its financial services strategy originally with the aim of providing solutions to the gig economy, which is a sector neglected by traditional banks. However, its ambitions have since grown.

It launched its DiDi Pay digital wallet in Mexico at the end of 2020 to allow DiDi drivers to receive and make payments directly from its app and have access to a debit card. The product was introduced in Brazil under the name 99. Subsequently, it began offering the wallet to DiDi users as well.

As of late 2022, users in Mexico can also top up their balance, pay bills and buy movie tickets using DiDi Pay.

Its next product in LatAm was DiDi Préstamos, which was introduced in Mexico in October 2021. Users can request loans of up to US$1,600 provided directly by DiDi, which uses the app’s usage data for risk assessments.

“Our strategy is focused on developing solutions that adapt to the personal and economic needs of the platform’s users,” Jordi Cueto-Felgueroso, public relations manager for DiDi México, told iupana last year.

The company soft launched a credit card —DiDi Card— at the end of last year, and it is still in the testing phase. For now, only users who receive an invitation within the app can apply.

  1. Magazine Luiza: Fintech Magalu

Brazilian e-commerce giant Magazine Luiza launched Fintech Magalu in May 2022 to centralize its financial product offering.

Fintech Magalu began with two products: a corporate credit card and personal loans, the latter provided by Itaú Unibanco. It later received authorization to operate as a Pix payment initiator.

Magalu aims to use the vertical to offer its fintech products to third parties and take advantage of the new business models that open finance is unlocking in Brazil.

“We have the advantage of bring able to test the products internally, developing the technologies with our own team and deploying them within the group’s sites,” Leandro Hespanhol, commercial and new business director of the fintech told iupana.

“But we’ll also offer it outside of the Magalu ecosystem,” he added.

  1. Habi: Towards mortgages with Habi Credit

Habi, a Colombian online real-estate broker, introduced Habi Credit with the aim of connecting clients with the banks that best fit their credit profiles.

The proptech uses technological tools that automate and organize customer data, increasing the chances of conversions in mortgage loan requests.

"Additionally, we are integrating technology, not only in the initial profiling but in all the subsequent processes, to expedite the credit institution’s evaluation and decision-making and, as a result, provide the best service to our clients," said Juan Pablo Garavito, Habi's CFO, in an interview with iupana in June 2022.

Habi has obtained three lines of credit totaling US$190 million from investors including TriplePoint Capital, IDB Invest and Victory Park Capital.

  1. Rappi: Payments, cards and acquisition

Rappi started out as a food delivery app in Colombia in 2015. RappiPay, its first digital financial product, came four years later. The business was born from a partnership with Colombian bank Davivienda and card giant Visa.

It also launched financial products such as RappiCard and Paga con Rappi: The former offers prepaid and credit cards issued by partner banks in LatAm and the latter is a digital acquirer.

“The new dataphones will be these virtual payment processors, which is what we do at Paga con Rappi,” Lorena Sánchez, then the global leader of Paga con Rappi, said in March of this year.

The Colombian superapp achieved unicorn status in 2018 and was valued at US$5.2 billion in July 2021. However, its financial vertical appears to have to yet to take off.

In February of this year, Luis Felipe Castellanos, the CEO of Interbank, its partner bank in Peru, said the tie-up had not fulfilled expectations.

Stay ahead of LatAm’s digital banking, fintech and payments industry

Únete a los líderes mundiales en tecnología financiera que leen los informes de iupana