From the rapid ascent of instant payments to the lackluster growth of Rappi credit cards, these are some of the developments that are setting the tone for the digital finance sector in Latin America.
This first half of 2023 brought us new use cases tied to open finance, cross-border transfers and new businesses. With that in mind, iupana takes a look at the biggest news of the first semester to help you recalibrate strategies for the next six months.
When compiling the list, we took into account the impact the events have had in their markets, whether they involved the region’s leading companies and also which were the stories most read by the community. So, here they are, in no particular order:
1. Latin America’s instant payment systems
Financial regulators in the region have stepped on the gas and implemented instant, interoperable payment systems in several countries.
From Mexico’s SPEI and Argentina’s Transferencias 3.0, you can find a detailed map of the systems here.
In addition, as we noted in our report on 2023 payment trends, account-to-account (A2A) payments are gaining ground and changing the experience for users demanding instant payments.
2. The challenge of providing financial services to migrants in Latin America
Migratory trends in Latin America are generating demand for financial products and services that’s not being fully met by banks and fintechs, due to risk assumptions that are not necessarily based on reality.
This is the view of representatives of the International Finance Corporation (IFC) as well as the Chilean fintech Galgo, which has developed exclusive products for migrants, particularly in response to the large numbers of Venezuelans and Haitians that have made Chile their home.
Read about the opportunity that migration in the region presents banks and fintechs, here.
3. Big tech and payments: Google Pay’s Latin America strategy
Big tech firms are vying for space in the financial services industry and Google is taking steps to ensure it doesn’t lag competitors such as Apple.
Google aims to increase the volumes sold by companies using its search engine’s advertising service by improving the user experience and drawing on its digital wallet.
Payment products “allow us to help the ecosystem so that digital marketing strategies don’t just stay as leads but move from responses to [sales] actions,” said Armando Betancourt, GPay’s alliances leader in LatAm.
Check out Google’s strategy for GPay in the region, here.
Speaking of big tech firms… Samsung is another company competing in the LatAm payment market and specifically in Mexico, where it’s rolling out its digital wallet in alliance with Santander.
4. Itaú and C6 employ strategies to conquer the nomadic dollar
Digital nomads want banks and fintechs to alleviate the friction that cross-border transfers bring with them, namely high fees and crediting delays.
Fintechs such as Nomad and Wise, neobank C6 as well as traditional banks such as Itaú offer a range of alternative solutions to serve traveling workers.
“Demand is ten times higher today than it was last year,” says Igor Rongel, head of investment at C6.
Find out how the race for the nomadic dollar is going and the opportunities it generates for the digital financial industry.
5. A “game changer” for the Mexican market: Walmart deepens its foray into finance
Retail giant Walmart shored up its financial arm in Mexico with the purchase of Trafalgar, a local fintech licensed under the country’s fintech regulation.
The acquisition allows Walmart Mexico to integrate its Cashi digital wallet into the financial system and gives it the option of moving into markets such as remittances and payments. The company stresses that all its efforts will be aimed at strengthening its core business: retail sales.
6. Mexico may become as or even more important than Brazil for Nubank.
Sticking with Mexico, the digital lender Nubank is implementing an aggressive growth strategy in Latin America’s biggest economy after Brazil.
It has became the number one credit card issuer in the last six months and managed to sign up one million customers for its new savings account in its first month of operation.
“Mexico has [the potential] to be more relevant and bigger than Brazil. We’re very excited with the reception we have had,” said Cristina Junqueira, co-founder of the neobank.
Read more about what motivated Nubank’s to place its chips in the Mexican market, here.
7. Cloud banking in LatAm faces adoption challenges
Several institutions in the region are transitioning their banking systems to the cloud; however, it’s not a simple task.
Cloud service providers Huawei and Google agree that the main barrier to greater use of the cloud in the sector is banks’ corporate culture.
8. Credicorp’s Tenpo close to launching credit card despite economic risks
The difficult macroeconomic climate hasn’t stopped Peruvian financial services company Credicorp from going ahead with credit card initiatives in two LatAm countries: iO in Peru and Tenpo in Chile.
Tenpo says it’s on the verge of obtaining a license to issue credit cards, which will expand a product portfolio that for now includes a prepaid card, investment and insurance products.
“Technology allows us to build models and risk engines, systems that support complex and stress scenarios, at the level of both funding and human risk,” said Fernando Araya, co-founder and CEO of Tenpo.
Be sure to read about Tenpo’s strategy to place credit cards while controlling risk, here.
9. Predictive finance: how the marriage of ERP systems and banking is evolving
Predictive finance is a concrete case of leveraging data and technology that banks such as Itaú and Bradesco are already exploring.
Open finance and artificial intelligence are being used in the Brazilian market to link the management software used by businesses (ERP) with the offerings of banks and fintechs. By using information from cash flows and company inventories, institutions are able to make contextual product offers, such as credits for raw materials or payroll payments.
10. Pichincha Peru seeks allies to get a head start in open banking
In Peru, Banco Pichincha is transforming its corporate structure and looking to get an edge in open banking, even though the country lacks the necessary regulatory framework.
The bank is in the process of hiring talent and developing use cases for open banking in order to take direct responsibility for its APIs and create business models for the future.
“The idea is to monetize our APIs and see them as a product,” said Liz Riveros, integration and open banking leader at Pichincha Peru.
The bank has no doubt that open banking is the way forward and is ready to work with the Peruvian authorities in the regulatory process.
Bonus: Rappi credit cards take off… slowly
Compared to competitors such as Nubank and Stori, the placement of the credit cards by Rappi and its banking partners in the region is lackluster.
We analyzed cards issuance and talked to Itaú Chile about how its joint venture with Rappi fared in its first year of operations: “It’s still a baby,” said the bank’s representative.