In its characteristically disruptive way, technology is impacting all industries and overarching sectors in global markets, including those that have been foundational pillars of a national economy for decades.
Not many other terms have been thrown around as frequent and persistently lately in the business world as ‘fintech’. Fintech – a contraction of ‘financial technology’ – is a buzzword of 2019, and that’s because it is sweeping through financial service industries in both the developed and developing world.
In Chile, fintech is changing the way institutions and startups deliver financial services to the population. We take a look at commercial activities and opportunities for foreign businesses in the fintech realm in the most developed country in Latin America.
‘Chile Day’ focuses on fintech
On 11-12 September this year, Chile was the topic of discussion among government officials and key commercial actors in New York: The so-called ‘Chile Day’ is a public/private initiative that looks to position and strengthen the country’s brand to the rest of the world. The expectation is that greater awareness of what Chile has to offer means larger inflows of foreign investment.
In the gathering held this month, the Chilean Minister of Treasury, Mr. Felipe Larraín, announced that Chile is planning to become a regional finance hub. Already dubbed ‘Chilecon Valley’ by operators in the tech realm, officials and businesspeople recognise Chile’s potential for innovation and technological adaptation, and want to see this applied further to Chile’s strong financial services sector.
To that end, the government is undertaking several actions to realize and raise awareness of Chile’s fintech potential:
- Worktable meetings (or ‘mesas de trabajo’) of fintech industry experts to develop comprehensive understanding and regulation of fintech activities
- Creating a Fintech Law
- Progressing initiatives towards greater protection of personal data
- Implementing measures regarding cybersecurity in the financial industry
- Resurrecting a bill looking to supervise insurance companies based on their risk.
The Fintech Bill
In the past Chile Day 2019 (also held in New York), the Chilean Ministry of Treasury also announced that a Fintech Bill will be sent to Congress for approval.
Its purpose is to ensure the protection and interests of consumers utilizing fintech programmes. The Bill looks to effectively regulate alternative or non-mainstream financial services, as well as increase transaction volumes of virtual assets.
New, innovative financial service platforms and their varying services will be put under the microscope to ensure these services are conducted in a safe and monitorable way. With a Fintech Law, they’ll also be subject to proportional regulations depending on the type of service they offer and the level of risks they pose to consumers and ultimately, Chile’s financial market.
Additionally, once formalized, this Law would promote and support further fintech innovation. This is viewed as a milestone in the financial inclusion agenda. This agenda aims to facilitate access for the Chilean population – particularly its growing middle class – to new products and services that the fintech boom is introducing to the market.
Crypto assets are also going to be addressed by this law as up until this point, crypto-related activity is not subject to any particular regulation or legal framework in Chile. This creates risks for the financial system and its actors, and allows for activities such as money laundering and the finance of terrorism. Tighter regulations on this activity reduces the risk of businesses and consumers finding themselves in hot water over unregulated financial transactions.
Being flexible with fintech
As Chile hopes to position itself as the driving force behind fintech development in Latin America, the government understands the importance of adapting to new arrivals to the financial services industry.
A key aspect of this Bill is therefore its flexibility; its framework must be forward-thinking and incorporate a level of changeability for when the country inevitably welcomes new financial instruments and technologies.
Opportunities for companies
Fintech acceptance in Chile is excellent news for investors looking to crack into Latin America’s financial services scene. Already a gateway to the region’s booming economies, Chile’s Ministry of Finance will provide greater legal certainty to its financial industry and sector. Chile has, by all accounts, one of the strongest and most efficient and well regulated financial markets of the region. This is a positive step in the direction of establishing an inviting platform for foreign investors working with financial technologies.
The value of alternative financing solutions
Alternative financing is quite attractive as it is rather simple to implement, and can have great effects on the consumer population. Startups can create online platforms that directly connect people seeking funds with investors looking to finance them. This a useful alternative to traditional financial channels such as banks and the formal capital market. These platforms are especially helpful for small scale transactions, such as seeking small loans or insurance packages with lower interest rates than other formal options.
The alternative finance market enables innovation and creates efficiencies and jobs, and that is why the government is adamant to regulate it. By doing so, Chile is creating a secure and supportive environment for fintech to flourish.
Investors win, too; they will have greater transparency and clearer guidelines on which to base their fintech business models.
Need more information? Contact us
Although Chile is a very favorable business destination in Latin America. However, it’s not without its quirks. When forming or incorporating in Chile, you’ll need to be fully aware of the process and relevant regulations you’ll need to comply with in order to operate without delay or penalty. While this can daunting for a foreign business, thankfully there are local experts who can help you navigate this process.
At Biz Latin Hub, our team of professionals in Chile offers key business solutions designed specifically for your business needs. We’ll guide you through your market entry with crucial legal, commercial and accounting expertise that serves your best interests.
Contact us today at [email protected] for a personalized quote and advice on how to get started.