In many parts of the world, it’s common for people not to have bank accounts, particularly in developing or underdeveloped countries. At the same time, however, mobile phones are ubiquitous. For example, there are 127 million people in Mexico, and more than 63 percent do not have a bank account. Yet, about 60% of them have a smartphone. That leaves 104 million people in need of banking services.
This is a tremendous opportunity to help serve the unbanked and underbanked population, and that is where this week’s guest on the Fintech Growth Talk comes in. Iñigo Rumayor is the Co-founder and Co-CEO of Arcus, the leading fintech-as-a-service platform making fintech possible for everyone. Arcus helps any business launch a fintech business, regardless of whether they have experience operating in the financial industry or not. It does this by providing turnkey access to customizable fintech solutions, which helps clients increase retention, build loyalty and become the center of their consumers` financial lives.
Unlike other fintechs, Arcus is unique. The team works to build a broader banking infrastructure that is mobile-first and can serve the vast number of under- and unbanked people in countries where the banking infrastructure is not easily accessible. Arcus is working to build a next-gen fintech infrastructure, with the goal of giving access to financial tools to everyone, paving the way towards greater financial inclusion.
Founded in 2013, Arcus started as a cross-border bill payment platform to help users pay their families’ bills from another country. This required access to real-time data, connecting to bill payment aggregators and providers in different countries — Latin America, Africa, and Southeast Asia. At the time, the infrastructure that existed in most developing countries wasn’t sufficient for the services they wanted to offer. As a result, they decided to build their own infrastructure, which led to the discovery that even banking institutions in those developing countries wanted better infrastructure. Fast forward a few years, and Arcus is now one of the largest bill payment processors in Mexico.
This discovery led to the realization that banking infrastructure was more important than just offering services. And it makes sense, given that in many countries around the world, the banking infrastructure was built for a pre-digital world, with an emphasis on physical branches. And despite the introduction of digital technologies, too many organizations put the same infrastructure into a mobile interface, which offers very little in terms of developing innovative solutions to help with people’s banking challenges.
Instead, Rumayor says, creating a mobile-first experience typically requires institutions to redesign their infrastructure and rebuild many of the components required for mobile banking services. That takes time, capital, and know-how, something many companies are lacking. And that’s why Arcus pivoted to create a FaaS platform that provides clients with turnkey access to the entire fintech stack and the option to choose custom solutions, which saves them time, cost, and headaches of building it themselves and addresses their customer needs and pain points. It also allows its clients peace of mind since having this built-in infrastructure enables them to focus on their core product and day-to-day operations. Arcus’ solutions are being used by neobanks, traditional banks, and retailers.
Rumayor sees this as an opportunity for the banked in developing/underdeveloped countries as well. The truth is that with outdated service models and poor interfaces, customers are unhappy with their banking institutions in those countries. They want more transparency and better services, and mobile phones are a huge gateway for these customers. This also includes people who live in more remote areas, where access to banks, in general, is a huge challenge.
Ultimately, Rumayor believes this opportunity is still in an early stage and there is huge room for growth. There are 650 million people in Latin America alone, but two-thirds of them remain un- or underbanked. But more importantly, Rumayor sees bringing banking services to underserved populations as having an important social impact, bringing economic growth and opportunities to those who have traditionally struggled and been left out.
Iñigo is Co-founder and Co-CEO of Arcus, the leading fintech as a service platform making fintech possible for everyone. Arcus helps any business launch a fintech business across the Americas including BBVA, Santander, Walmart, 7-Eleven and Rappi. Iñigo is responsible for generating, managing and ensuring the growth of Arcus' business as a whole, and as a founding member, he has served in several roles at the company, including Vice President and CFO. Prior to Arcus, Iñigo worked at Morgan Stanley and also worked as Managing Director of Rumayor Genetics, his family business, managing all aspects of the operations and expansion of the company.
Listen to our full interview with Iñigo here.