Colombia

South America

Colombia has strong potential for future IP growth, with one scheme in place as of 2019 and another in development. Its infrastructure enables users to make P2P fund transfers 24/7/365 with Transferencias YA (“Transfers NOW”), an IP solution launched by payment processing network ACH Colombia in September 2019.

This service is offered to individual customers who simply input their desired recipient’s mobile number to make a payment. Users can access this platform through the participating banks’ apps, or through payment service providers. Funds are credited directly into the recipient’s bank account. However, if the recipient does not have a bank account, they are required to open one within 24 hours to receive the funds. Users can transfer a maximum amount of COP250,000 (~$75.00) per transaction and can make up to five transfers per day.

Though there are currently a limited number of banks participating, there are plans to onboard 27 financial institutions in the country.

To further promote IP, fintech startup Minka is planning to develop another real-time P2P system in Colombia in early 2020 in collaboration with ACH Colombia. Minka’s goal is to develop the infrastructure to power IP with a blockchain-based cloud platform.

Timeline

MARKET DEVELOPMENT

ACCEPTANCE
  • Consumers
  • Banks
  • Merchants
  • Billers

Banks participating

6

Population banking level

1.38

Number of debit, credit and charge cards per adult

56

Index to global average

U

Underbanked

Key statistics

2019

IP launch year

Immediate payments types

Single instance

Initiation & authorization

Mobile number

Unknown

Message standard

33%

% of adults who have a mobile wallet and have used it in the past year

Share of volumes by payments instrument

Transactions

2019
2024

Spend (USD)

2019
2024
  • Paper-based payments
  • Electronic payments
  • Immediate payments

Insight

Colombia has one of the largest unbanked populations in South America, at over 50% of adults as of 2017. One of most popular reasons cited for being unbanked is the lack of necessary documentation. This is likely because many of Colombia’s large internally displaced citizens lack a Cédula de Ciudadanía (Colombia ID card) and therefore cannot open a traditional bank account. All in all, this creates a difficult ecosystem in which to drive citizen participation. While Colombia is early in its real-time journey, it has already acknowledged the potential of IP to deliver added economic value.

Mobile wallet usage has increased 2.8x between 2017 and 2019. The country is still heavily reliant on paper-based payments, which comprised 92% of transactions in 2019, and card ownership is very low — factors which tend to lead to rapid IP adoption. And while IP in Colombia is still in its nascent stage, the development of a second network indicates that there is a strong belief within the country in IP’s potential to take off.

For the time being, only six of the country’s banks offer IP, and options for both initiation method and payment type are limited to one each. Additionally, the scheme is currently only used by individuals for P2P payments — there are no options for payments to or from businesses. With more banks and other types of companies being added to the scheme, as the banked population grows, and as additional initiation methods and payment types emerge, IP could really transform Colombia’s payments ecosystem.

ACI’s take

Colombia’s financial institutions have often been at the cutting edge of payments innovation, finding ways to promote financial inclusion through digital initiatives such as DaviPlata to help progress the underbanked population away from paper-based transactions.

The launch of Transferencias YA builds on that ethos of digital transformation and capitalizes on a digitally literate population, already accustomed to mobile wallet services. The key indicators of IP adoption point towards explosive growth in Colombia.

The next step will be to see additional use cases supported in the B2C, B2B and G2C sectors.

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