MIAMI – June 1, 2020 – Visa launches the fourth edition of the Visa Everywhere Initiative (VEI) in Latin America and the Caribbean, in partnership with Finnovista, inviting Fintech and other industries startups to present by June 30 innovative solutions to drive economic recovery for the region's small and medium-sized businesses and for the urban mobility sector. As a leader in the global payments ecosystem, Visa looks to strengthen the positioning of SMEs in the current context through technology solutions related to the acceleration of contactless and mobile payments, and strengthening of their e-commerce activities or increased liquidity, among others.
Visa wants to provide solutions for both online and offline businesses in Latin America and the Caribbean to reactivate their economic activity and speed up their recovery through digitization. "In times of crisis and isolation like the one we are currently experiencing; digitization is becoming an urgent necessity for SMEs and consumers alike. At Visa we support the new business models emerging that respond to today's challenges. Collaboration with Latin American startups innovating in this segment and improving payment solutions for public transit is key to the recovery of businesses in Latin America," said Arnoldo J. Reyes, vice president of Digital Alliances, Fintech and Entrepreneurship for Visa Latin America and the Caribbean.
SMEs in times of Covid-19
According to the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), the region's economy will contract by 1.8% this year as a result of the effects generated by the health and economic crisis of Covid-191. Furthermore, according to a Visa Business Solutions survey of small and medium-sized companies in Mexico, Brazil and Colombia conducted in May, 83% of companies have suffered a reduction in activity since the pandemic began. The most urgent concerns for these small business owners include their ability to pay payroll followed by their ability to pay for the rent or mortgage on their businesses. The survey also indicated that SMEs in the region are well-digitized in terms of strong use of digital banking (87%) and social media channels (97%) to communicate with customers. However, the survey shows that the penetration of digital payments is significantly less, as only a third of SMEs have a point of sale terminal and only 20% of SMEs in the retail sector are enabled for online sales, which may present a barrier to the survival of such businesses during the crisis.
Consumption patterns acquired in recent weeks highlight the need for digitization. In Mexico alone, Fintech solution application downloads have risen five-fold.2 This situation reflects the consolidation of Fintech industries in several Latin American countries, where startups in this sector are becoming increasingly important in providing financial services to all business segments, and in particular, to those who have more difficulty accessing traditional financial structures, such as small businesses, according to Finnovista studies.
As the pandemic impacts economies around the world, innovation is more important than ever. Small businesses are the economic engine of the economies in the Latin American region, where 99% of companies are SMEs and represent 61% of formal employment, according to ECLAC. Through its 2020 edition of Visa Everywhere Initiative, Visa wants to contribute to the recovery of SMEs in Latin America and the Caribbean by looking for solutions with the potential to strengthen the operations and capabilities of these small and medium-sized businesses.
"Fintechs in Latin America and the Caribbean have long taken advantage of the social demand for new technologies applied to financial activities. In countries like Mexico, the latest edition of the Fintech Radar confirms 441 startups in the sector. In Colombia, in one year, the number of this type of enterprise has grown by 26% to 200 startups, which demonstrates the region’s talent for offering innovative solutions to small Latin American businesses. In addition, many of these startups have business models with excellent growth potential. They can find in Visa, one of the great global players in electronic payment technology, and an exceptional ally to continue enriching their company," explained Andrés Fontao, Co-Founder & Managing Partner at Finnovista.
VEI 2020 Challenges
In this edition of Visa Everywhere Initiative for Latin America and the Caribbean, Visa is looking for startups in scaling and growth phases from the Fintech sector, and any other industry, that can solve for these two challenges:
Challenge 1: Visa wants to know how startups can drive innovation to improve the digital payments ecosystem in Latin America and the Caribbean to support and accelerate the economic recovery of SMEs in the short and long term. Visa seeks to help small businesses, both online and offline, through technological solutions that offer them, among others, contactless or mobile payments, greater accessibility to electronic commerce, loans at the point of sale, liquidity mechanisms, reward or loyalty to their clients or easier management of their banking services, as well as digital payments for their clients.
Challenge 2: Also key to the recovery of the cities around the region as they look toward returning to the “new normal,” is urban mobility that undoubtedly will change significantly. Hundreds of millions of people use public transportation daily in Latin America. Visa works to facilitate payment experiences on public transport through its Mass Transit Transaction model based on EMV contactless technology, which allows payment transactions within public transport systems via contactless cards, mobile devices or wearables. Visa continues to work with the Urban Mobility industry to enable fast, easy and secure payments on more modes of transportation in the region and is looking for innovative solutions for this to help improve the door-to-door journey. How can Visa work with your startup to develop and enhance the experience of mass transit, micro-mobility services or other forms of ticketing and mobility payments for millions of people?
All eligible startups with operations in Latin America and the Caribbean are invited to submit innovative Fintech ecosystem solutions. The call for applications for the Visa Everywhere Initiative 2020 is open until June 30 on the Visa and Finnovista websites. From August 17 to 21, the five digital semifinals will take place, in which the 30 selected solutions will be able to virtually network with other startups and Visa stakeholders at private events. At the semifinals, startups will present their pitches to the judges. After deliberations, the two finalists chosen from each semifinal event will be announced.
The winner of the fourth edition of the Visa Everywhere Initiative 2020 will receive a $25,000 prize. The second and third place winners of the program will be awarded USD $15,000 and USD $10,000, respectively. Visa will explore different avenues of collaboration with the startup, such as the development of pilot programs or proof-of-concept (PoC), participation in one or more mentoring meetings during the year, or other alternatives. For more information, visit the Visa and Finnovista websites.
Flexio, the Mexican startup that offers installment loans for online purchases using a debit card, and winner of the previous Visa Everywhere Initiative LAC, confirmed that "Visa Everywhere Initiative was the turning point for Flexio. We went from being a promise of the Latin American Fintech world, to being a consolidated company with a regional reach, backed by one of the world's most powerful brands: Visa. VEI and Finnovista connected us to the Visa team, who quickly helped us connect with their partners so that we could grow our business exponentially.”
Since 2015, the Visa Everywhere Initiative has reached six continents and 100 countries, with the participation of more than 7,000 startups. In Latin America, VEI has successfully convened more than 1,000 startups since its launch, helping to expand the payment ecosystem with emerging talent. A couple of weeks ago, Visa signed collaboration agreements with Flexio, winner of the Visa Everywhere Initiative 2019, and Kublau, the Mexican startup that came in second place last year, to continue driving e-commerce in the region, together.
About Visa Inc.
Visa Inc. (NYSE: V) is the world’s leader in digital payments. Our mission is to connect the world through the most innovative, reliable and secure payment network - enabling individuals, businesses and economies to thrive. Our advanced global processing network, VisaNet, provides secure and reliable payments around the world, and is capable of handling more than 65,000 transaction messages a second. The company’s relentless focus on innovation is a catalyst for the rapid growth of digital commerce on any device for everyone, everywhere. As the world moves from analog to digital, Visa is applying our brand, products, people, network and scale to reshape the future of commerce. For more information, visit About Visa, visa.com/blog , @VisaNews. For news about Latin America, visit @VisaNewsLatam.
Finnovista is an impact organization that empowers the transformation of the financial and insurance industry, building bridges of collaboration between startups and large companies to create a better world.Founded in 2012, Finnovista works with entrepreneurs and corporations through collaborative activities such as conferences, acceleration and scaling programs, engagement programs with startups and innovation programs to drive their innovation and transformation journey. Finnovista has established itself as the most active investor in Fintech and one of the most relevant actors in the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Latin America, with a community of 2,500 startups and over 25,000 innovators. Finnovista promotes FINNOSUMMIT, a reference event in Fintech and Insurtech in Latin America, and develops acceleration and scale-up programs Startupbootcamp and corporate innovation programs for clients such as Visa, BBVA, HSBC, Scotiabank and Fiinlab de Gentera. Finnovista is part of the international innovation and venture building group Rainmaking.