Openbank officially opened its digital doors for clients in Argentina. After two years of preparation, since the Central Bank granted the banking license to operate, Santander Group’s 100% online commitment started giving out debit cards and is available to residents across the country. Through a onboarding through the web or app (for Android and IOs), users will be able to access up to five customizable accounts for free with savings accounts, Visa debit cards and Debin, a P2P (person-to-person) instant money transfer system. The bank will not have branches and will have a 24/7 customer service.
Federico Procaccini, former general manager of Google Argentina, will lead the landing as CEO. THE NATION spoke with him about the reasons for choosing the country as the first destination for Openbank in Latin America, its main differentials and challenges for the coming years.
– Why Argentina and not other countries in the region?
– The decision was made three or four years ago. There were three reasons. The first is a necessary condition, which was the existence of a regulation that allows having this technological infrastructure: the bank in the cloud. It is a regulatory change that occurred in 2017. The second is the Argentine talent, who can manage the bank of the future and of today with machine learning and artificial intelligence. The third point was the opportunity as a financial industry, particularly linked to loans to GDP. In Argentina it is around 10% of GDP compared to 40% in neighboring countries. Of course, to develop the market, there has to be a stable macro, predictability. When that is, we will have the necessary deployment to leverage ourselves.
– About the Argentine talent, were you developing your own team? Do you have open searches?
– The Central Bank gave us permission to operate on January 4, 2021, almost a year ago. A new company was created and we hired Argentine talent to download Openbank specifically to Argentina. Without a doubt we will continue hiring, we have 20 open searches for talent at this time.
– In Argentina local digital banks were already being developed, how do they see themselves compared to the competition?
– There are very good efforts. Without a doubt they were inspiration for many things. We are proud to add our technology to this market. The main competition we have is against cash, we must migrate cash to digital money, to data. With that information we will be able to work with advanced technology to combat these numbers of loans over GDP.
The main competition we have is against cash
– What do you think will stand out in the Argentine market?
– Definitely, in the technology we bring. Today it is difficult to make visible, but over time, in terms of innovation, it will be more visible. Being able to process in the cloud is a great advantage due to its high availability and speed. When we gain scale it will be perceived. This allows a bench to be highly customizable. It will be possible to open several savings accounts, virtual debit cards, available at the moment to register them in wallets for payment with QR. With the onboarding, which is 100% online, you can start using the card. There are security and alert features, with which you get a notification for everything that happens in the account.
– What will be the main challenges?
– In the first instance, the attraction of clients and that their vision of what we proposed is optimistic. We seek to bet on the strengthening of the financial system, the regulatory framework, make our contribution to the fight against cash and continue developing local talent.
– What functionalities will not be available yet?
– Today we come out with a value proposal for debit, transfers and Debin. We are going to integrate products to become a full bank, with all services. There is a long way to go. when we launch any credit product, we are going to want to have your transactional information. Today we are building our client portfolio with the products we have and we are going to improve the products in a personalized way, with artificial intelligence.
In Argentina, the deployment of products and services begins in a first phase with a savings account and payroll account, as well as a debit card so that customers can carry out their usual operations. In addition, users will have access to Debin, an instant money transfer system, similar to Bizum, and which allows operations in both pesos and dollars, between individuals.
Customers will also have several free features, such as the Password Manager Databank, a password manager that, within the bank’s app, allows users to save the main credentials they use on a daily basis.
The entity expects that, over the coming months, the product catalog will be expanded.
Likewise, both through the website and the app, Openbank customers can access a dashboard that allows them to turn off or turn on the use of their payment instruments when making online or physical purchases.
Finally, another of the new features available from the website and the app is the possibility of managing the devices from which the bank account can be accessed, being able to consult those terminals from which the bank has been accessed in the last 30 days.