How would you describe the process of creating an interbank ATM provider, which culminated in the establishment of Banred?
Banred is the result of an interbank agreement between 12 banks. It was founded in 1994, when three ATM networks decided to merge. From that moment, it was preferable to provide support to financial institutions rather than duplicating investments and competing for services that could be shared. Banred was born with 255 ATMs and 12 banks. At present, 100 financial institutions are part of our network, representing 6,000 ATMs. Since we started operations 25 years ago, our installed capacity, number of customers, and range of services have grown continuously. The development of Banred's activities mainly occurs with agreements with other shareholder institutions that define Banred's guidelines regarding service provision. The range of services we provide include ATM network services, online wire transfers in real time, and transaction processing for non-banking correspondents. We pay the human development bonus, which is a social program promoted by the government. We also have a payment system for the public sector. Banred provides its services within a scheme of electronic payment system based on the electronic processing of financial transactions.
Developed by Banred, BIMO is seeking to make Ecuador a cashless society. How has this progressed so far?
The latest service Banred has implemented is BIMO, a mobile wallet for people who have a bank account. This app allows users to make use of their money from their bank account, while in addition to this, BIMO serves to promote bank usage and financial inclusion. A person who does not have a bank account or is not a member of a cooperative can use BIMO to open a basic account in a few minutes without submitting any documentation. This is a first step toward achieving financial inclusion. As a micro-transaction-oriented electronic payment method that was created to replace cash, the maximum amount you can pay with BIMO is USD50. The monthly limit is set at USD300 and the daily limit at USD100. These are initial referential limits that will remain until we stabilize the platform and measure the risks and demand. In the future, all limits will be adjusted. BIMO is a fintech project. In the future, every single financial institution, from large banks to the smallest cooperative, will use BIMO. This is one of the advantages of the interbank agreement, in which we agreed to develop a payment method that will be shared by everyone on equal terms. This is the first time an app of this kind is being developed and shared by the entire financial system.
Financial inclusion is becoming a key topic in Ecuador's development agenda. What other services are you planning to implement in 2020?
In terms of financial inclusion, and as part of our future vision, we have proposed to the banks the interconnection of the non-bank correspondents' network. Each bank has its own network. Pichincha Bank has Mi Vecino (My Neighbor), Guayaquil Bank has Banco del Barrio (Neighborhood Bank), and Produbanco has Pago Ágil (Rapid Payment). Banred aims to integrate all these networks into one so that customers of these institutions can share their networks. By doing this, the 25,000 non-bank correspondents that make up the network will greatly raise the financial system's coverage and capacity to make services available to the population. Moreover, they will also greatly support financial inclusion because these correspondents are usually located where banking institutions are not, that is, in rural and deprived inner-city areas. The integration of a non-bank correspondence network is important, especially in terms of financial inclusion.