BUILDING A CASH-FREE ECOSYSTEM

Mexico 2018 | TELECOMS & IT | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Jean-Urbain Hubau, General Manager of Edenred, on NutriSavings, fighting informality in Latin American markets, and tailoring services for SMEs.

Jean-Urbain Hubau
BIOGRAPHY
Jean-Urbain Hubau has been in charge of Edenred’s operation in Mexico since 2014. Previously, he served as CFO of the company’s branch in Brazil. He holds a degree in economics and an MBA from ESSEC Business School.

According to your financial reports, 2017 was a record year for operating revenue. What were the main factors behind this growth?

The group has been performing well in 2017, especially in the first semester, when we posted growth higher than 20%. Our main business in Mexico is fleet management. This segment has been growing significantly because we have a homologation from the tax administration; clients who use our services can deduct their fuel expenses by 100%. Our invoices are available for download so they do not have to get a fuel invoice every time they are at the station. The 10 largest fleets operate with us, but we also have 10,000 clients of various sizes. Our solution helps facilitate administrative work and helps prevent fraud. We are innovating as well, and we are launching a solution that is cardless. It is a tag that is attached to the windshield of the vehicles. The point of sale (PoS) recognizes the vehicle and makes the transaction immediately; we plan to commercialize it in 2018 for all of our clients. Our second business focus is the food voucher market, which is crucial for Mexican employees. We provide monthly food vouchers for over 3 million employees in Mexico. There is an app and a website where one can check their balance as well as many other features, such as locking or unlocking their cards online. This feature is something that the banks are launching now, though we launched it two years ago. Moreover, we launched an interesting platform in the US called NutriSavings, where a customer receives thorough and analyzed information on purchased items. While nutritious items win points, unhealthy foods do not. We can help people change their eating habits to become healthier and also save money; it is something completely feasible based on micro-change

What do you offer for SMEs?

We are working on developing a more comprehensive offer for SMEs. We hired a director a year and a half ago who works specifically for SMEs. Through a combination of her work and some promotion, we have multiplied the number of new SMEs using our services five or six fold. Recently, we formed a partnership with Aspel software, which is the largest accounting software provider for SMEs. Our travel solution is now 100% integrated with their software. Everything is paperless, and the solution is made so that the places where you pay can forward information directly to the platform

What role does your company play in terms of tackling informality in the market?

Globally, it is one of the main business drivers for our company, and even more so in Latin America. Our company is French, but almost 60% of the business is in Latin America. We developed rapidly in Brazil, Mexico, and many other countries in the region because we are fighting against informality. Now, as more users have cards instead of cash, they experience less street crime. The main retail chains are already formalized, though we help formalize the smaller businesses on street corners. If we manage to formalize the entire chain, it will definitely be positive for the economy. For example, 50% of the restaurant market in Mexico is informal and does not pay tax or follow health regulations

How does the recent rebranding reflect what is happening inside the company?

Edenred used to be part of a different company and part of a huge business of 160,000 employees, with 5,000 focused on this particular area. The branding and image had never been something that was important, and our logos were over 30 years old. We needed to clean off the dust to bring it up to date. It went from an old-fashioned voucher company to digital and technological company. The new branding is vibrant, young, and much more aligned to what we are doing now. The change of mentality has been well translated in the new brand image.