Mexico is the fintech capital of Latin America with 158 startups dedicated to the sector. He is followed by Brazil (with 130 startups) and Colombia (with almost 80). The forecast is that throughout 2018 the Latin fintech continue to expand to enhance their development at the international level and there is not a few foreign actors who have noticed the significant potential of this market. Mexico is also the most attractive Latin American destination for Fintech startups in Europe and the United States, as revealed by the first edition of the Finnovista Fintech Radar Foreign Startups in Latin America, which also highlighted Brazil and Colombia, as the countries that head the list of the region together with Mexico.
The report, prepared by Finnovista, an impact organization that enhances the Fintech ecosystems in Latin America and Spain, specifies that Mexico, with 74% of the startups identified is the largest Fintech market in the region; Brazil, where 46% of startups are located; Colombia, is the destination of the 35%; Peru, with 33%; while 27% of foreign Fintech offer their services in Argentina. The report adds that countries with an average presence of foreign Fintech startups are: Chile, where 22% of the startups identified are served; Ecuador, with 15%; Guatemala, destination of 14% of startups; Uruguay, Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic, each destination 12% of startups and Panama, with 11% of startups.
Another study elaborated by the consultancy eMarketer points out that there are 400 million of smartphone users in Latin America and it is expected that by 2020 more than 80% of smartphone users will have access to the most advanced mobile internet networks according to a GSMA study on mobile economy. On the other hand, the firm BSLatAm, estimates that 52% of adults in Latin America has at least one bank account. Unísono, multinational company of Contact Center & BPO, has stated in a recent report that 2018 is a key year for fintech, because it is not only presumed a growth of the sector, but it will contribute to the transformation of traditional banks, tightening their links and offering them an opportunity to grow and strengthen the relationship with their customers. These data come to confirm that Latin America is one of the regions with the greatest potential for the growth of the Fintech sector. High cellphone use and customer demands are the main reasons.
Perhaps that is why important news is happening in recent months in the area of Latin fintech: Mexico has become the first Latin American country to pass a law for the fintech industry. Among the main benefits of this new regulatory framework is the setting of operating standards for platforms, support for new financial models, as well as generating a climate of confidence for the industry in the sector. In this sense, the regulatory environment will create greater competition in the financial environment, which can reduce, according to their promoters, the costs of credit management and the development of new products. Finally, it is hoped that it will also help to integrate a larger population and companies into the financial sector, thus benefiting their development and productivity in the country. Mexico is, in this regard, an isolated case in Latin America.
BBVA Research is precisely highlighting in its latest Digital Economic Situation report that Latin American countries lack a harmonized framework of financial regulation adapted to the challenges of the digital age. “So far, the region’s authorities have opted not to curb innovation, but this inaction could be an obstacle for the development of the region,” he says. The economists of the Spanish bank point out that, despite recognizing the benefits, and to a large extent also the risks, so far and without any exceptions, the authorities of Latin America have limited to interventions narrowed to regulate certain Innovative business models such as crowd funding, reacting in different ways and without regional coordination. In recent weeks Colombia has announced the creation of the first fintech association of the country, one more symptom that the revolution of financial technologies is also coming, and with great force, to Latin America, although perhaps with a slower speed than desired. In PanamericanWorld we have traveled along the ecosystem of the Latin fintech and have chosen these eight startups that are marking the pace both in innovation and growth capacity.
KUBO FINANCIERO. MEXICO
The companies in developing countries need access to financing as anyone else, but the “developing” part retains small businesses. Kubo. Financiero is a regulated microfinance institution that grants loans between 400 and 4.100 dollars in Mexican borrowers. Common uses are working capital, fixed assets and education. The startup connects people who need a loan with people looking for investment opportunities. Kubo. Financiero received in 2015 the authorization of the Mexican government to capture the public savings of Comisión Nacional Bancaria y de Valores (National Banking and Securities Commission) (CNBV), after two years of having the permission to operate as a Popular Financial Society (SOFIPO). It becomes in this way the first financial enterprise in Mexico with the approval of the CNBV to capture savings and give loans via the Internet.
It is the first 100% digital bank created in Mexico, following other models already applied in different countries. It was the entrepreneur Francisco Meré who decided to introduce him in Mexico to appreciate the enormous possibilities of growth offered by this model in the Mexican ecosystem. Bankaool does not have any physical branch; however, it offers a wide range of services to its users, ranging from the management of their own resources, to the acquisition of credits and insurance policies. Last July, the financial group “Go for more” reached an agreement to buy the startup, to merge it to the Banco Ve por Más. (“Bank go for more”). The amount of the operation was not announced.
This application is designed to allow users to have a saving discipline and to do so according to purely financial criteria. Since it was launched in 2014, Zaveapp has become one of the most widely used and recommended Mexican applications within the country’s competitive ecosystem. It helps you manage your money effectively so you can deal with unexpected expenses or late-breaking whims. The application encourages the user to ‘complete’ any transaction made with the card that connects to the application. The amount of change that the user would get if paid in cash is automatically stored in a savings account that is getting virtually increased without the user being aware. There’s the key to saving.
The Latin American Fintech platform Afluenta is the first collaborative finance network in Latin America. People invest in credit for other people. Afluenta provides a direct line of communication between investors and applicants. Both parties register in Afluenta and then investors can lend money to valuable recipients without intermediaries, creating a single platform for loans. The peer trading model has revolutionized the loan application process and has made available to Latin America more funding opportunities. The company, which was founded in 2012, has already expanded to Peru and plans to expand to Mexico, Brazil and Colombia in the very near future.
Lending Platform as a service or LaaS (Lending as a service) that provides loan management services allowing schools and lenders to establish student funding programs. Quotanda was one of the winners of the Pacific Alliance South Summit held at the end of last year. The Mexican startup was awarded as the most disruptive project, as a student financial platform to democratize access to education through improved financing options. The Quotanda team takes care of all aspects of their partner’s programs, including: Program set-up, marketing, compliance, creation, automated credit decisions, loan disbursement, prolonged maintenance (Interest and principal collection), and default management.
Bankity is a service that allows you to control your finances automatically by viewing your budget and expenses for categories such as transportation, entertainment, food, etc. So far, the ‘app’ created by Diego Alejandro Guzmán and Julián Vélez, two entrepreneurs from Medellín, has more than 60,000 users and four million registered transactions. The application is available on Android and iOS. In October last year they expanded their product portfolio with the presentation of a smart credit card compatible with Bankity, which is considered the first credit card fully oriented to the digital world. The idea is that people can know the status of their balance, how much has been spent, what has been spent and how many interests the user is paying for each purchase. Diego Alejandro Guzmán and Julián Velez, CEO and CTO of Bankity respectively, were among the 10 finalists of ‘Everywhere initiative’, a Visa contest that seeks to revolutionize the financial system in its electronic payment segment.
This platform allows international e-commerce websites to accept local payments in Latin America and in local currency. Through local bank transfers, direct debit and cash payments, Astropy offers sales outside the foreign currency market to traders, without the need to establish companies or bank accounts in each country. Conversion rates in Latin America are very low, so Astropy helps companies raise their conversion rates, developing a first-class payment solution for users, who usually face a wide variety of problems when they try to make their payments on foreign websites, an increasingly widespread practice.
This mobile application helps people automatically save their projects and financial goals, using savings rules that transform everyday habits and actions into savings opportunities. Michael Feldman, co-founder of Übank, had previously created BOMBAcamp, startup that was dedicated to the development of new products and services to digitize the banks. His new startup received an initial investment of 60,000 dollars, which are added to the 16,000 dollars granted Startupbootcamp Fintech México. They currently have 1,600 users in the Chilean market and a waiting list of 2,000 users. But the goal is to reach a million users in three years, says Feldman. The business model is to deliver the software to the bank so they can use Übank within their institutional application and now work to launch the app independently in Mexico..