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Deep Dive: Latin American Fintech Market (Part 1)

Latin American Fintech Market

There is a gap between what financial institutions currently offer versus what today´s customers want in Latin America, and this is where fintechs are earning a reputation for customer-centricity, personalization, quick response and seamless delivery. The relationship between fintechs and traditional financial institutions in Latin America has evolved from competition to collaboration, with the aim of efficiently working together and effectively scaling innovation, while also driving financial inclusion for the underbanked.

In 2015, one in seven digitally-active consumers was using a fintech service, and as of 2019, the adoption of fintech services has moved upward from 16 percent in 2015 to 64 percent in 2019. It is estimated that 60 percent of all fintech companies in Latin America were established between 2014 and 2016. Within this industry, Latin America emerges as one of the fastest growing and most promising markets globally, in which 1,166 fintech firms are located across 18 countries. Brazil is home to the largest number (380), followed by Mexico (273), Colombia (148), Argentina (116) and Chile (84). Together, these countries represent almost 90 percent of all fintech activity in the region.

Fintechs in Latin America are mostly present in five specific segments according to Finnovista’s fintech for Inclusion. These segments are payments, lending, enterprise financial management, crowdfunding and personal finance management. Approximately 70 percent of Latin American fintechs are focused on these five segments. This may be due to entrepreneurs’ response to limitations of traditional financial systems, both regarding national and international transfers, digital payments and access to financial mechanisms.

Here is an overview (in my opinion) of some of the top LATAM-focused fintechs:

Nubank

Founded in 2014 in Brazil, the largest fintech in Latin America, Nubank, has doubled its customer base since October 2018 with more than fifteen million active customers. Nubank is a technology financial services organization with investments from some of the world’s leading venture capital companies, including Tencent, Sequoia Capital, Founders Fund, Tiger Global and Kaszek Ventures. Brazil is one of the fastest growing mobile markets with more than 160 million smartphones in use. Nubank’s service allows users to request and have full control of financial services through their mobile phone. As its service is fully digital, the organization has a reduced operational cost and does not charge customers any fees.

Uala

Founded in 2016 in Argentina, Ualá is a personal financial management mobile app linked to a Mastercard prepaid card, which allows users to conduct financial transactions such as transferring money and making payments and purchases, both in Argentina and abroad. With Ualá, users can manage their money through their mobile phones without having a bank account and without having to pay issuing, renewal, maintenance or closing fees. Ualá also allows users to keep track of their expenses and personal finances. It sends automatic push notifications to the user when a transaction is carried out, and it arranges expenses by category to keep track of them.

GuiaBolso

Founded in 2012 in Brazil, GuiaBolso was the first company with a single app to manage personal finances in Brazil in a fully automatic way. Recognizing that Brazilians did not have tools to help them control expenses or choose financial products at the time, GuiaBolso developed a platform where it is possible to connect bank accounts and/or credit cards to manage them easily for free. The more than three million users of GuiaBolso have access to features that include a graphical view of the categories in which they have spent the most, a financial health index with tips for improvement and a marketplace to compare credit offers. After the app launch, GuiaBolso quickly outperformed Tinder, Facebook and even Whatsapp, becoming (at times) the most downloaded app of the Brazilian AppStore and consistently the number 1 in the Finance category.

kubo financiero

Founded in 2012 in Mexico, kubo financiero is the first online peer-to-peer lending community in Mexico and the first in Latin America authorized by a financial authority (Comisión Nacional Bancaria y de Valores in México). It is a platform where credit applicants with good credit history obtain better interest rates and terms, while investors who lend to borrowers get better return on their investments. To date, kubo financiero has granted 72,930,124 loans (MXN 159 1003 million) and, has 6,61617,102 clients.

Aflore

Founded in 2014 in Colombia, Aflore offers financial products such as loans and insurance to the unbanked population in Latin America through a network of selected informal financial advisors, educated and equipped by Aflore. The business model enables advisors to access detailed information on behavioral patterns through a low-cost channel. Currently, Aflore has more than 17,000 advisors, has disbursed more than USD $1.3 million in loans and has received awards including the Latin American BBVA Open Talent Award nomination.

Read about how financial inclusion is becoming a long-term strategy in the payments ecosystem in, “The Need for Financial Inclusion in Developing Countries.”