INCLUSIVE INNOVATION

Colombia 2017 | FINANCE | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Gustavo Leaño Concha, President of Credibanco, on increasing the formalization rate, optimizing the user payment experience, and the importance of innovative public policies.

Gustavo Leaño Concha
BIOGRAPHY
Gustavo Leaño Concha began his career at Credibanco in 1995 as the R&D Manager. He was also President and VP of Marketing for the Visa-CredibanCo brand. He specialized in marketing and management at the Universidad de Los Andes, and attended the INALDE Business School and Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management.

How do issues of formalization or financial inclusion here compare to neighboring countries?

Colombia has a rate of approximately 76% financial inclusion, and there are eight financially formal commercial entities per 1,000 people. This means there are great opportunities for us in these areas, especially compared to other Latin American countries, some of which have nearly 100% financial inclusion. One of the most important things at the moment is working together with the banking association and public entities to create a public policy to promote electronic payments. In 2014, the government launched a new financial law, including the creation of a new banking license called the Sociedad Especializada en Depósitos y Pagos Electrónicos (SEDPEs) for entities that can raise funds from the public through electronic deposits and, in turn, provide transactional financial services such as payments, transfers, drafts, and receipts that encourage greater financial inclusion. On the formalization side, the government has created better instruments for small businesses. At the base, there are principal institutions and entities such as ours seeking to facilitate new models of payment. We have been working to create an aggregate base of formalized merchants and sales representatives, linking them with a formal payment system. Technology has allowed for a payment model for more efficient transactions. New innovations will help significantly, especially on the micro-commercial trade. A great deal of things have been done and many are still being done to bring Colombia to the same level as other countries in the region.

What opportunities do you see for digital banking or mobile payments?

In terms of innovation in this area, Colombia is one of the most advanced countries in the region; all the banks are involved in mobile banking. Seven of our clients, as well as the other main financial institutions, already use digital “smart wallets." The country wants to provide users with a better experience by making payment times faster. Colombia has the same technology as the rest of the world; the only restriction is the structure of the market. The potential is there and Colombia is catching up with the rest of the region. As for the challenges, public policies are perhaps the most important. For example, South Korean public policies in the 1990s changed the economy by introducing innovative systems. The challenge now is for the government, fintech companies, and banks to work together to meet customers' more sophisticated needs. If Colombia can overcome these challenges, it can be a leader.

What are your strategies in terms of introducing new services and products?

Our focus is on giving our users a better experience in the payment process. As for internationalization or international partnerships, for now we are mainly focused on Colombia and its needs. The market has faced many challenges and first we want to be strong here before forming international partnerships.

What are your priorities for Credibanco in 2017 and 2018?

For the remainder of the year, we have three main priorities. The first is to consolidate our business unit model, thus improving our approach to the market. The second is to transform our technological platform in order to have an open model to allow different companies, such as fintech, onto our payments network. The last refers to how we optimize the service level for our customers. Right now, we are in the middle of the process but should be finished by next year.