MIAMI – (September 7, 2021) – This year marks five years of the Visa (NYSE: V) Latin American and Caribbean Innovation Center (LAC IC) working with financial institutions, merchants, governments and startups to discover, explore and co-create the next generation of payment technologies in the region. The Miami-based LAC IC, along with the Mexico and São Paulo Innovation Studios, has brought some of the most unique payments technologies to the Latin American and Caribbean market in partnership with the region’s top innovation-seeking enterprises. From a connected car e-commerce unified platform to payment verification via biometrics-based selfies, the LAC IC is advancing digital transformation across the region.
“Our Innovation Center strategy provides clients with a highly-collaborative environment with the latest technology from AI to Blockchain and IoT. Also, our human-centered and design thinking methodologies help us develop products and solutions that address the needs of consumers,” said Vanesa Meyer, Head of Innovation and Design, Visa Latin America and Caribbean. “We are proud of all the innovations we have spearheaded in the region, from connected car pilots and biometrics verification to unique peer-to-peer payments solutions. The future of payments is here, and it’s great for Visa to be at the center of it all.”
The incubator environment for payments technology is crucial for the LAC markets, as the region is in the middle stages of digitization. Currently, only 19% of adults use credit cards, while 80% of payments in retail establishments are still made in cash.1 However, smartphone penetration is up to 70%2, and new e-commerce transactions shot up 100% due to the pandemic.3 And with an increasing number of consumers in the region looking for advanced payment technology options like digital wallets and contactless payments,4 the LAC IC is well-positioned to test groundbreaking pilots and prototypes.
The IC’s team of payment-industry experts, UX/UI designers, software developers and solutions architects have worked with more than 120 clients since 2016 to develop close to 100 proofs of concepts (POCs) and has piloted and launched more than 30 payment technologies to market. Some of the key innovations over the last five years include:
- Helping to shape the future of digital-only neobanks throughout the region, offering previously unbanked or underbanked consumers convenience, ease, and security. The IC helped Brazil’s online bank Neon launch a login service using device-based facial recognition via selfies, which is up-and-running today.
- Launching payments solutions in nontraditional places, like CART, a connected car platform pilot in Brazil with automaker Stellantis Group. Together, the companies are pioneering this first-of-its-kind solution that is making the driver’s car journey totally frictionless with Visa’s innovative digital payments solutions. CART allows drivers to easily make gas and food purchases, as well as pay for tolls, reservations, parking and even shop online all from the convenience of their car without having to go out of their way.
- Making it easier for merchants to accept digital payments. In collaboration with the Uruguayan digital wallet BIGO, Visa QR platform allows merchants and consumers to pay and accept contactless payments by simply linking their Visa credit, debit or prepaid cards to their mobile devices in order to scan and pay.
- Pioneering the roll-out of innovative payment solutions across a wide range of verticals and use cases, including retail, fintech, tourism, government, insurance, instant issuance, order-ahead in app payments, and some of the first use cases of real-time peer-to-peer (P2P) payment technology in the region.
To keep track of the rising business opportunities, the Innovation Center in LAC has also been partnering with startups since opening its doors. In Brazil alone, from 2017 to 2020 more than 70 startups have been accelerated by Visa, where more than half led to business opportunities. This year, the Visa for Startups program was created to improve the engagement model with startups and scaleups in the fintech community. According to Meyer, “The recent program shift to an on-demand, challenge-base model allow us to address current market needs, while building a robust global partner network.”
Innovation is not only a focus with external Visa clients. The LAC IC hosts a program to foster ingenuity from within, with its own Incubator Program. Through this initiative, Visa employees receive support to harvest and incubate ideas to turn them into disruptive products and solutions for potential market use. “Our Incubator Program keeps an innovative mindset flow as a consistent stream throughout the wider organization, pushing for an experimentation culture beyond the IC”, explains Meyer.
Finally, the LAC IC team keeps a pulse on what’s trending in payments technologies through its annual regional Innovation Index, which surveys more than one hundred players across key verticals, as well as surveys on consumer behavior and payment choices. These findings guide the team on where to focus next — from retail payment solutions using biometrics and wearables, to digital currencies and new money flows.
“Our commitment to innovation and digital transformation runs deep,” said Meyer. “We are proud of what we have brought to the LAC region in just five years and can’t wait to see what transformations we can help shape in the years to come.”
For more information about the Visa Innovation Center or case studies, please visit www.visa.com/about-visa/global-innovation-centers/miami.html.
1 - Innovation Rising in Latin America: Lessons from Innovative Leaders Across the Region, page 4, Sept. 2020
2 - Innovation Rising in Latin America: Lessons from Innovative Leaders Across the Region, page 3, Sept. 2020
3 - Innovation Rising in Latin America: Lessons from Innovative Leaders Across the Region, page 4, Sept. 2020
4 - Innovation Rising in Latin America: Lessons from Innovative Leaders Across the Region, page 33, Sept. 2020