AstroPay launches a Visa debit card in Peru as part of its ambition to bring access to the digital economy to the country’s unbanked community.
AstroPay is to issue a Visa debit card in Peru as part of its growth plans for Latin America.
The digital payments firm, which is most noted for its online payment solution, is hoping that the new offering will attract Peru’s unbanked population to a world of financial access.
This ambition is primarily being achieved by the company’s provision of convenient services. The card, which is being issued by Lima-based EMI Tebca Perú, is supporting online payment capabilities through its association with Visa, while payments correspond with various cashback schemes.
As Mikael Lijtenstein, the company’s CEO, told our Em Conversa series last month, part of its success in delivering to unbanked populations was its ability to understand and react to local needs, cultures and customs.
These “pain points” form the basis of the company’s “bespoke and tailored payment experience,” said Lijtenstein, who admits that such a process requires “in-depth research work to understand consumers’ preferences and the most popular methods and providers.”
By launching a Visa card, AstroPay intends to open a gateway into the digital economy and digital payments for Peru. The offering sits alongside AstroPay’s existing operations in the country, which include helping consumers purchase online on international sites.
Payments in Peru
Peru forms the next puzzle piece in AstroPay’s ongoing expansion into Latin America (LatAm), which the company is targeting due to “the rapid growth and developments in their payments industry.”
While the country has been largely reliant on the use of cash in the past, it is, like most of the surrounding region, slowly and surely embracing the technology around digital payments.
It’s estimated that 44 per cent of the country’s population currently lacks access to a bank account, far behind neighbouring Chile’s 13 per cent or Bolivia’s 32 per cent.
And as for smartphone penetration, data suggests that Peru’s mobile economy could reach as high as 70 per cent by 2025. In other words, Peru is by no means the least reactive to the digital payments industry in the LatAm region, however, opportunities in the market to improve payment services remain.
In addition to all of this, the country remains in serious social and political turmoil. While the ousting of the country’s former president, Pedro Castillo, saw demonstrations calling for his reinstatement back in early December, the narrative of this country-wide outrage has now extended to calls for Dina Boluarte, the country’s former vice-president that has now succeeded Castillo by the rule by decree, to resign. Protestors are also demanding the closure of congress and the beginning of new elections.
The situation is in such dire straights that authorities have announced the indefinite closure of Machu Picchu, the crowning jewel of Peru’s tourism industry that attracts one million visitors a year.
It is unclear what immediate effect this turmoil is having on the country’s payment landscape, or how it will accept the introduction of new payment methods like the one being offered here by AstroPay.
Now’s the time
Despite this, Guillermo Dotta, the company’s CTO and CPO, explains that now “is a great time for AstroPay to strengthen its position as a key player in Peru’s growing payments industry.”
“Standing on our existing operations in the country, we are not only offering our existing and new users a simpler experience with their finances but also creating a frictionless experience for unbanked customers looking to enter the financial system,” comments Dotta.
“This launch is part of our continuous effort to deliver simple, safe and convenient solutions tailored to meet the needs of our loyal customers in all of Latin America.”
The prevalence of Visa acceptance in Peru is hoped to ensure the success of the card’s launch. The Visa prepaid card will allow users to shop on any site that accepts Visa across the globe and users will be able to pay in both American dollars and Peruvian Soles.
The company plans to expand its prepaid card product across a range of territories, having previously launched this product in the UK, now Peru – their next objective will be to expand across the rest of Latin America, targeting Brazil, Mexico and Argentina.
Gilberto Chaparro, general manager for Visa Peru, comments: “At Visa, we work with fintechs around the world to transform the digital payments industry and offer more and more people and businesses the benefits of digitalisation.
“We celebrate our work with AstroPay, with whom we developed a solution that will enable more Peruvians to have access to fast, secure and convenient payments.
“Likewise, the creation and implementation of innovative payment solutions, hand in hand with fintechs, allows us to contribute to the development of a more inclusive economy in the country.”