Colombia made real-time payments available in the country with the launch of Transfiya (also known as Transferencias YA) in September 2019. Real-time payments volume and value are relatively low compared to paper-based payments, accounting for just a 0.1% share both in terms of volume and value. This can be attributed to less participation from financial institutions, a low transaction limit, restrictions on the number of transfers that can be made in a day and a large unbanked population within the country.
With ACH Colombia planning to add B2B and QR code payments functionality to the Transfiya system, the future of real-time payments in the country looks promising and is expected to register robust growth both in terms of volume and value, increasing at respective CAGRs of 61.6% and 73.7% from 2021-2026.
Real-Time Payment Types
Year of Real-Time
Colombia does not yet have a general purpose domestic real-time payments scheme — but an independent effort has broadly filled that void. Transfiya is open to the entire banking system and has attracted hundreds of thousands of users — a good start in an economy still heavily driven by cash and where 46.7% of the population is effectively unbanked. However, any drive toward financial inclusion could potentially be stymied by a lack of participation from banks and financial institutions, which remains far from ubiquitous.
Elsewhere, broad success in virtual wallets like Nequi and Daviplata continues apace, with much higher adoption than Transfiya. Use of such wallets has further accelerated due to the pandemic, in part because government subsidies have been disbursed through them. This has inspired further newcomers to attempt to enter this space, including partnerships with Visa that offer banks products related to realtime payments, via Visa Direct.
Any central real-time initiative is likely to be far off, but there is a new central-bank-driven project to modernize banking and payment rules within Colombia. Although primarily oriented toward open banking, it will expand payment origination methods and P2P use cases. However, rather than herald any big centrally driven real-time interventions, this ongoing push for broader modernization and innovation is likely to further boost the market’s existing independent schemes.
Banks must also be mindful of a new law that potentially opens up the acquiring arena and implies current acquiring banks will need to transform to act more like processors. At this time, it is unclear whether this will prompt a strategic shift from banks to act as direct acquiring platforms. Nevertheless, banks now understand new possibilities exist regarding having — and growing — an acquiring business, and that they have an opportunity to be more proactive rather than relying on classic payment networks. If there is a new movement of banks trying to deploy new direct acquirement schemes, this will almost certainly impact alternative payment methods and — eventually — real-time payments.
Mobile Wallet Trends
% of adults who have a mobile wallet and have
used it in the past year (2021)
Real-Time Total Participants
Population Banking Level
Number of debit, credit and
charge cards per adult
Index to global average
F5 Yr CAGR
Payments Fraud Rate
Population who reported being a
victim of fraud in the last 4 years
Top 3 Payment Fraud Types
|% of fraud victims||Trend|
Card details stolen online
Share of Volumes by Payments Instrument
- Paper-based payments
- Electronic payments
- Real-time payments
Immediate Payments Volume and Its Share in Overall Non-Paper-Based Transactions, 2015-26f
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