MIAMI – A financial sector made up of just banks would be like a “world without the Internet,” Visa’s vice president for Strategic Alliances, Fintech and Entrepreneurship for Latin America, Arnoldo Reyes, told EFE on Wednesday.
During an interview on the last day of the FINNOSUMMIT Miami event, organized by Lendlt Fintech, Reyes explained that this is why it is so important for Visa “to be in the ecosystem” of emerging technology companies, known as “fintech.”
The firm chose this forum to celebrate the culmination of the Visa Everywhere Initiative (VEI) 2019 competition for Latin America and the Caribbean, which awards a cash prize of $50,000.
The winning company in the competition was Mexico’s Flexio, a firm founded and developed by a group of Uruguayans which offers millions of Mexicans without access to credit the chance to acquire goods and services by paying in installments using a debit card.
Nathan Schorr, one of Flexio’s founders, told EFE that winning the award means that he and his team will have to work “even harder” to reach their goal, which is to help more people obtain access to health, education and leisure services.
Thirty percent of Latin Americans over age 18 do not have a credit card, which is a “huge gap” that Flexio is “motivated to close,” Schorr added.
Reyes said that although 300 companies applied for the third edition of VEI in Latin America, only 190 were selected to compete, with 12 ultimately making it to the finals.
The main objective of this year’s competition was to find growing innovative startups that are capable of revolutionizing financial services.
The participating companies were asked to solve three real-life challenges in the digital commerce, premium and payment acceptance spaces. Among the finalists were Argentine, Brazilian, Mexican, Colombian and even Guatemalan companies, according to Reyes.
Apart from the VEI initiative, Visa also has strategic alliances with firms such as Rappi, a mobile app based in Colombia and present in nine countries and which is one of the region’s so-called “unicorns” (companies with capital over $1 billion).
Moreover, Visa makes strategic investments in companies such as NovoPayment, a banking platform service, the leader in its field with a presence in 12 countries in the Americas.
Founded 60 years ago, Visa has the largest payment network in the world and one that is extraordinarily “reliable,” Reyes said.
In Latin America, where the informal economy has significant weight, “the imbalance is more visible” than in Europe or the United States, he added.