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Santander Mexico and Whatsapp announce pilot for in-app wire transfers

Contxto – As traditional banks strategize at the onset of Nubank’s regional expansion, Santander Mexico has devised a plan to compete digitally. Alongside Whatsapp, the financial institute recently announced plans for the Santander TAP pilot program. This will allow Mexican clients to send up to MX$4,000 via the messaging platform daily.

In summary

Santander TAP will supposedly begin in May and only be available to Mexican customers, at least for now. To use the service, one must have a Santander debit card as well as Supermovil Santander app. If you the receiver doesn’t have a Santander account, they can open one online to benefit from the service.

“Santander is the first bank in the country to incorporate this technology,” said a Santander representative. “It also places Mexico as the first country to allow money transfers through Whatsapp, a scheme that works for both Android and iOS systems.”

Once you have your account situation taken care of, you can start sending money via Whatsapp. All you have to do is choose the recipient, specify the amount and input your special pin for transactions.

In-depth

The technology will be similar to Cobro Digital (CoDi), which is Banxico’s digital payment innovation enabling consumers to use Quick Response (QR) codes to make purchases.

However, CoDi has earned criticisms for its lack of financial inclusion to unbanked customers. Many Mexicans still don’t have bank accounts. Perhaps Santander will be more inclusive than Banxico since it’s offering actual digital accounts and promoting mobile banking.

Out of the 54 million Mexicans with bank accounts, around 22 percent use their cellphones for banking transactions. On top of that, approximately 49 percent of Mexicans have smartphones – so this is convenient.

According to reports, Santander Mexico also won’t be charging any commissions for users to send or obtain money.

Conclusion

Does this initiative even require justification? Personally, this feels like a great solution, even though it’s a little concerning that only Santander customers can exchange funds over Whatsapp.

Using Whatsapp for this, though, makes sense in Mexico considering that 91 percent of the country’s internet users utilize that messaging app. The fact that Santander is offering digital bank accounts is also a huge step in financially empowering Mexicans. Bank accounts are a necessity in this day and age, so I hope to see positive results.

There are other alternatives, though, such as Mexican app, Swap, which allows users to send and receive payments via any messaging app.

Seems like the race to become Latin America’s WeChat is just getting started.

-JA

Jacob Atkins
Jacob Atkins is a journalist specializing in Latin America. He studied journalism and international relations at American University in Washington, D.C. and has previously reported from Chile, Ecuador, Haiti and Mexico. When he isn't writing he's most likely hiking or drawing.

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