BANKs OF THE YEAR awards
Nequi, a friendly digital bank
The folks at Nequi, Colombia’s first digital
bank, do not want customers to see it as a bank, but rather as a source of companionship
and, if needed, some cash. In other words, as a friend.
by Bancolombia five years ago, Nequi has been growing by leaps and bounds, with
the first six months of 2020 seeing the number of users soar from 2 million to
3.5 million. The pandemic played a part, but so did the myriad of services it offers.
Nequi is used
most often to pay bills, shop online, save for the future and secure loans,
especially at times when cash is running low. It is a digital go-to source for
needs and is changing the way Colombians see banking. Its products could serve
as a model for the region and beyond, which helped it secure the Digital Bank
of the Year award.
The bank’s total
loan portfolio was up an eye-popping 258% in the 12 months through June 2020.
Deposits were not far behind, increasing by 186% during the same period.
Vásquez, Nequi CEO, said that while Colombia has a relatively high level of
bank use, or bankerization, people tend to be skittish about banks, and even
more so when it came to loans. Nequi wants to erase that image.
88% of Colombian adults had some sort of banking product as of mid-2020,
according to the Colombian banking association (Asobancaria).
you had people with bank accounts but they considered this a necessary evil,
another problem to worry about. We are changing that, showing that banking is
not a problem, just part of life. It is something you can trust, a friend,”
of Nequi’s main products is the lifesaver loan, which can be used to replace a
traditional illegal system, known as drop-by-drop loans, that provides cash but
at high rates and, more often than not, intimidation if payments are late or
lifesaver loan was born to confront illegal loans, which have a strong
relationship to security issues. It is an easy and safe way for a customer to
begin building a credit line,” said Vásquez.
The lifesaver loans are tailored to people
earning below $530/month and they take about five minutes to process. The
amounts can range from $25 to $130.
Vásquez said that
while a lifesaver loan is meant to help a customer get through a jam, it also
starts them down a different road and, in the long run, offers a way to manage
have this loan they can move on to more sophisticated products. It becomes a
kind of leverage for people to achieves their plans through better organization
of their money,” he said.