Latam Fintech Startups in Emerging Markets: Deep Diving Beyond Brazil, Mexico and Colombia

April 27, 2020
Hub Leader - Business Development and Account Manager at Mastercard
📷
LFH
Every time we hear about a new fintech startup in Latin America, they are usually from Brazil, Mexico or Colombia. We barely hear any news, or updates, from smaller/emerging countries such as Bolivia, Peru, Belize, or even the islands in the Caribbean.

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The truth is that Brazil, Mexico, and Colombia are going through a major startup revolution- not only in fintech, but also in a variety of industries. In addition, these countries have provided an environment for entrepreneurs to thrive- form infrastructure, financial support, regulation, etc. and of course, the size of the markets represent a big opportunity for startups to gain scalability.  However, when we look at the emerging markets we tend to see that the financial services opportunities, and needs, are even bigger than some of the more developed countries in Latin America. In my view, this leads to more opportunities for startups and therefore less competition. Fintech has been a “hot industry” in the last few years and it will continue to be so as we are evolving into a digitally connected world -especially when it comes to financial services.

The reality is that when regions like the Caribbean are put together, it represents a potential of 40 million inhabitants, which might translate to potential customers, each island is an independent country but with the right technology, companies could find a way to create platforms that could enable them to be used across several markets from one single location.  Other countries with huge potential, is for example Bolivia. It has a total population of 11 million inhabitants and a big part of them, above 50%, are completely unbanked. We could continue looking at each of the smaller markets in Latin America and realize that the opportunities and needs in these countries are endless -especially for a fintech startup.

But what exactly is happening in these other smaller markets in Latin America? Why don't we hear any breakthrough startups coming from them? The truth is that there are “outliers” startups that have identified the opportunity and became a fintech startup in an emerging market in Latin America, here is a list of a few of them:

  • Blink (Bolivia) has developed a network of what they called mobile ATM network using taxi drivers
  • Point (Dominican Republic) a mobile payment platform that allow people to pay local community merchants using QR Codes
  • Change Now (Belize) is a web platform created for the exchange of any cryptocurrency
  • Hazvaca (Ecuador) a crowdfunding platform supporting Ecuadorians to secure funding for projects
  • IslandPay (Bahamas) offers a wide array of solutions in payments through its kiosk and app to Bahamians locals
  • Haitipay (Haiti) specialized in providing electronic payment services through its mobile platform
  • Andy (Peru) a personal microloan tech company that disburse loans in just one hour
There are several other startups in these and other emerging markets, but the list above provides a sense of the available untapped opportunities in all of them.

Fintech startups will continue to be relevant in the Latin America market and we will continue to hear more and more about new endeavors coming to life in the next few years. Especially in countries like Guyana and islands in the Caribbean (e.g. Barbados and Eastern Caribbean), which are going through major transformations and growth. It will not be much longer until VCs and Accelerators start looking into these markets for new startups and investment opportunities.

Las opiniones compartidas y expresadas por los analistas son libres e independientes, y de ellas son responsables sus autores. No reflejan ni comprometen el pensamiento u opinión de Latam Fintech Hub, por lo cual no pueden ser interpretadas como recomendaciones emitidas por la platafomra. Esta plataforma es un espacio abierto para promover la diversidad de puntos de vista sobre el ecosistema Fintech.

The truth is that Brazil, Mexico, and Colombia are going through a major startup revolution- not only in fintech, but also in a variety of industries. In addition, these countries have provided an environment for entrepreneurs to thrive- form infrastructure, financial support, regulation, etc. and of course, the size of the markets represent a big opportunity for startups to gain scalability.  However, when we look at the emerging markets we tend to see that the financial services opportunities, and needs, are even bigger than some of the more developed countries in Latin America. In my view, this leads to more opportunities for startups and therefore less competition. Fintech has been a “hot industry” in the last few years and it will continue to be so as we are evolving into a digitally connected world -especially when it comes to financial services.

The reality is that when regions like the Caribbean are put together, it represents a potential of 40 million inhabitants, which might translate to potential customers, each island is an independent country but with the right technology, companies could find a way to create platforms that could enable them to be used across several markets from one single location.  Other countries with huge potential, is for example Bolivia. It has a total population of 11 million inhabitants and a big part of them, above 50%, are completely unbanked. We could continue looking at each of the smaller markets in Latin America and realize that the opportunities and needs in these countries are endless -especially for a fintech startup.

But what exactly is happening in these other smaller markets in Latin America? Why don't we hear any breakthrough startups coming from them? The truth is that there are “outliers” startups that have identified the opportunity and became a fintech startup in an emerging market in Latin America, here is a list of a few of them:

  • Blink (Bolivia) has developed a network of what they called mobile ATM network using taxi drivers
  • Point (Dominican Republic) a mobile payment platform that allow people to pay local community merchants using QR Codes
  • Change Now (Belize) is a web platform created for the exchange of any cryptocurrency
  • Hazvaca (Ecuador) a crowdfunding platform supporting Ecuadorians to secure funding for projects
  • IslandPay (Bahamas) offers a wide array of solutions in payments through its kiosk and app to Bahamians locals
  • Haitipay (Haiti) specialized in providing electronic payment services through its mobile platform
  • Andy (Peru) a personal microloan tech company that disburse loans in just one hour
There are several other startups in these and other emerging markets, but the list above provides a sense of the available untapped opportunities in all of them.

Fintech startups will continue to be relevant in the Latin America market and we will continue to hear more and more about new endeavors coming to life in the next few years. Especially in countries like Guyana and islands in the Caribbean (e.g. Barbados and Eastern Caribbean), which are going through major transformations and growth. It will not be much longer until VCs and Accelerators start looking into these markets for new startups and investment opportunities.

Las opiniones compartidas y expresadas por los analistas son libres e independientes, y solamente sus autores son responsables de ellas. No reflejan ni comprometen el pensamiento o la opinión del equipo de Latam Fintech Hub y, por lo tanto, no pueden interpretarse como recomendaciones emitidas por la plataforma. Esta plataforma es un espacio abierto para promover la diversidad de puntos de vista en el ecosistema Fintech.
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