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Visa Mexico Vice President Juan Carlos Guillermety (L) and senior director of Product Solutions and New Payment Enablers for Visa Latin America and the Caribbean, Allen Cueli (R), during an interview with Efe in Mexico City, Mexico, Aug. 24, 2017. EFE/Mario Guzman
Visa Mexico Vice President Juan Carlos Guillermety (L) and senior director of Product Solutions and New Payment Enablers for Visa Latin America and the Caribbean, Allen Cueli (R), during an interview with Efe in Mexico City, Mexico, Aug. 24, 2017. EFE…

Visa launches new program to empower fintech start-ups and innovation in LatAm

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Visa Inc. is offering Latin American tech start-ups the opportunity to expand and improve their own products in partnership with the global payments technology giant.

"We seek to create an open collaboration ecosystem where we work with third parties, fintechs (financial technology firms) and start-ups with capabilities that complement ours and those of our clients," Allen Cueli, senior director of Product Solutions and New Payment Enablers for Visa Latin America and the Caribbean, told EFE.

That is the idea behind Visa's Everywhere Initiative, which has already been introduced in the United States, Europe and Asia and is now being launched in Latin America.

Cueli traveled to Mexico City for one of the five events to select 10 finalists who will submit proposals for the reinvention of electronic payment systems in pursuit of a $50,000 prize from Visa.

Some 250 Latin America fintechs took up the challenge posed by Visa in collaboration with the Finnovista organization.

The finalists emerging from the rounds in Mexico City, Buenos Aires, Santiago, Bogota and Sao Paulo will face other Nov. 9 in Miami at the Finnosummit.

Besides the $50,000 in prize money, the winner will receive advice from industry experts and get the opportunity for an exclusive collaboration with Visa.

Investment in fintechs in Latin America currently stands at around $600 million, as "opposed to some $36 billion at the global level," Cueli pointed out, adding that while the spirit of innovation is abundant in the region, there remains a disconnect among ideas, capital and clients.

Even so, the past year has seen "a great deal of movement," Visa Mexico Vice President Juan Carlos Guillermety said, especially in the Aztec nation, where a favorable regulatory environment for fintechs has attracted roughly $140 million in investment.

Mexico, according to Guillermety, is "a big enough market (for companies) to test and clarify their business models."

For financial companies the biggest challenge - and the biggest potential - presented by Latin America is the substantial proportion of the population who don't have bank accounts or use debit or credit cards.

In Mexico, for example, electronic payments are involved in just 14.5 percent of individual consumer transactions.

"We believe that a fintech space can play a very important role in accelerating that growth," Guillermety said.

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