ALEJANDRO MORALES

Mexico 2021 | FINANCE | VIP INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Alejandro Morales, CEO of Prosa, on adapting to the post-COVID-19 world, the value of competition, and adding value to the region.

What strategies did Prosa use to adapt its business model to the “new normal"?

The pandemic represents not only a challenge but also an opportunity, and we have definitely worked hard to make the best out of it. We are currently undergoing a technology renewal plan and for the short to mid-term goals, we will continue to invest in digital transformation. We are aware that our people are our most valuable asset, and we have therefore dedicated a great deal of effort to keeping them safe and healthy while they are working from home. For instance, we have provided them with the necessary tools ranging from online training to chairs and headsets so they are able to perform at their best.

In what ways does Prosa plan to continue innovating in the payment sector?

Prosa has been in the Mexican market for 52 years and has gone through many different circumstances. In a time when the arrival of the digital era is forcing the world into a rather unique scenario, we have to evolve our business and operation models. We have identified trends and tools that we are adopting to help us through this transformation process. Prosa is moving to cloud services technology and a more efficient operation. We are launching a new strategic initiative to introduce PROSA Suite, which will be gradually implemented in the coming years and will allow our clients to connect to PROSA solutions in a matter of hours. We will also explore big data, which is extremely relevant for us because of the large amount of information that we deal with. It is critical that we deliver this information in the form of insights that are valuable to businesses and the decision-making process our clients face on a daily basis. I definitely see Prosa becoming an information company in the short-to-medium term. In addition, we have formed an alliance with Finconnecta to create the first marketplace in Mexico, to provide enterprises with “plug and play" solutions through a secure and reliant API hub. Our plan is to bring fintech companies closer to financial institutions and vice versa in order to strengthen our ecosystem. We are preparing for an open banking environment.

When are you planning to complete your technological renovation programs?

As a technology company, our renovation programs are never finished; it is an ongoing effort. Instead, we have developed a system for continuous technology upgrades every three to five years. In the next four months, we will invest a significant amount in technology renewal, business continuity, and redundancies. There is a great deal of demand in the market, so we have to be capable of understanding our clients' needs and regulatory changes that may modify the market, and thus focus on creating plug-and-play solutions for our clients. I see Prosa becoming the middleware for clients; it is a natural state for Prosa, where our banks have no further need to invest in developments, by simply adopting the solutions we bring to the market.

What are your concerns regarding The Social Dilemma in terms of data?

Social networks are useful in many ways; they are effective for communicating with customers and partners. There are compliance and security concerns, so as companies and individuals we must educate ourselves to properly use and capitalize on social media as a productive tool. Prosa has implemented communication strategies focusing on education through digital tools and social media platforms, like the series of Prosa webinars. That was a project where we brought discussion panels around relevant topics for our sector such as open banking, blockchain, and digital transformation to our clients and partners.

Why is it important to invest in fintech?

The digital era and fintech companies have enabled a deep transition in the market. Today, business models have to be created with a vision of constant upgrading; in addition, we must adapt faster and better over time, because of changing needs, competition, regulations, and technologies. Therefore, it is high priority for a company to be assertive about where business goes and to choose its battles to narrow the gap between the speed new technologies are evolving and the company's internal skill levels. For that reason, Prosa believes open innovation and external strategic partnerships are key initiatives to promote the growth of our capacities and skills and bring tailored value-added solutions to our clients.

How do you differentiate yourselves from other competitors?

Competition compels companies to innovate, think differently, and add value; it makes us all better. Our main competition today is the use of cash, which represents more than 80% of all transactions. There is a huge opportunity to increase acceptance in Mexico, where despite having 5 million SMEs, we have only 1.3 million POS terminals in the market, most of them concentrated in large cities. Prosa is a significant player when it comes to helping merchants move from unbanked to banked.

What is your added value?

Prosa is the largest switch in Mexico and the third largest in Latin America. A payment switch is a foundational element for all modern payment ecosystems. We enable communication between issuers and acquirers to process payments in the most efficient way possible and offer the best user journey. In addition, we offer our clients complementary and innovative solutions to create a cost-effective payment framework management. Today, we already have a presence outside of Mexico; we provide our services in five countries mainly located in Central and South America. Once we make significant progress toward our technology renewal plans, I see an opportunity to keep diversifying geographically.

What are the main priorities and objectives for Carnet in 2021?

The main priorities for Carnet in 2021 are to keep growing the business with our clients, keep improving our product offerings and pricing, and go international.