Nearshore Americas
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A Closer Look at LATAM’s Fintech Market

When we think about technology, we often think of Silicon Valley. However, Latin America is going through a large technological transformation that is driving innovation, entrepreneurship and research. 

When considering the ease of doing business in Latin America, we observe that its countries are starting to become hubs for technology and innovation. In response, many international companies have begun outsourcing operations to the region, a trend driven by rising English proficiency, increasing levels of talent, accessible entries and relatively low labor costs. 

Foreign investors have shown great interest in the Latin American fintech sector. Several investment firms from important markets –such as the United States, Europe and Asia– have noticed an increase in the number of success stories and a significant improvement in the regional talent pool.

According to a report presented by the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB), fintech companies registered a 112% growth between 2019 and 2021 alone, with countries such as Colombia, Mexico and Brazil leading the industry regionally. 

The fintech boom opened the way for products and services that a few years ago were not well known in Latin America. What follows is a closer look at the countries with the highest number of fintech companies. All of this countries merit careful observation.

    Country                                                Number of fintechs

Brasil  751
México 512
Colombia 279
Argentina 276
Chile 179
Source: Finnovista and BID (2021).

Chile

Chile is known worldwide for its early adaptation of technology, making it a regional hub for the fintech industry. As of 2021, there were more than 150 fintech companies in the country. More than half of them have been expanding internationally, funded mostly by venture capital.

The fintech segments which show greater prominence in Chile are payments, EPM, lending and insurance. More than 35% of Chilean fintechs are considered large companies, demonstrating a vast market with great potential.

Colombia

Colombia has long been considered the new hotspot for fintech and is regarded as a market with immense potential. Medellin in particular is seen as the potential Silicon Valley of Latin America

Colombia is generally underrepresented in fintech banking, as more than 45% of Colombians hold accounts in financial institutions instead of fintech banks. However, this is soon to change. 

Most businesses experience difficulties obtaining credit and funds from traditional banks. Fintechs, which tend to promote a model that is less restrictive when compared with conventional banking, have become an attractive alternative. Plus, Colombia has shown a deep post-COVID interest in digital banking solutions to facilitate processes and communication between companies and customers.

One Colombian fintech to keep an eye on is Bankity, the first personal finance control application that automatically registers what the user pays for electronically without asking for bank codes.

Mexico

Mexico has been experiencing considerable fintech development with higher inclusion and low credit penetration, giving international companies great opportunities. Government authorities undertook significant changes to push the fintech industry and shift the local cash-based economy towards electronic payments. 

As one of the most attractive fintech markets in Latin America, the amount of fintech startups has increased by more than 14% since the first COVID outbreak.

A Mexican fintech to keep an eye on is Fondeadora, a digital platform that aims to challenge traditional banking. It offers a debit card without annuity or commissions, which can be requested in less than 3 minutes and delivered to clients’ homes in a maximum of 5 days.

Peru

The Peruvian fintech market is often forgotten. However, it holds a tremendous amount of potential.

Peru is in the early stages of its fintech transformation, but the industry’s influence in the country is high. With an enormous informal and underbanked sector, a financial system dominated by a few legacy banks and a young population of digital natives, Peru is a fintech market waiting to happen.

Internet access in households remains low. However, it is growing rapidly, pushed by the fact that almost all Peruvians own a cell phone. Peru’s most exciting fintechs offer loans, house exchanges and payments, providing a good overview of market demand. 

It is also important to note that the fintech transformation in Peru has brought changes in the organizational structures within the banking industry.

The Biggest Obstacles for LATAM Fintech

Although the fintech industry continues to consolidate and is one of the most attractive for foreign investors seeking to do business in Latin America, many companies still face challenges to sustaining growth in the market.

In 2020, a little more than half of Latin American fintechs pointed to scaling as their biggest obstacle.

Cybersecurity is another major challenge faced by the industry. Accelerated digitalization brings greater vulnerability and exposure to cyberattacks. However, according to a study, 63% of companies within the fintech industry in Latin America already have a system to prevent and contain cyberattacks, and 21% are working on the implementation of these security systems.

 A Shift From Traditional Banking to Fintech

Undoubtedly, a drastic transformation in the banking industry can be observed all over Latin America. These changes were accelerated by COVID, which changed the needs of consumers and businesses. The need for new products, modern designs and accessibility is in high demand, and it is being covered by fintechs.

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Regional financial inclusion is also increasing thanks to fintech startups, as well as the levels of resilience to external changes. Very few fintechs felt the impact of COVID.

Countries like Colombia and Mexico show speedier transformations due to their specific circumstances and opportunities. However, Peru’s potential can’t be ignored, and businesses might want to be a part of its development.

Craig Dempsey

Craig is the Managing Director and Co-Founder of the Biz Latin Hub Group. Craig holds a degree in Mechanical Engineering, with honours, a Master’s Degree in Project Management and various other diplomas covering logistics, personal management and government administration. Craig is also a military veteran, having served as an Australian army officer on numerous overseas operations and is also a former mining executive with experience in various jurisdictions, including, Canada, Australia, Peru and Colombia. You can contact Craig here.

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