I was in Chile two years ago, and some things have changed there by then, but not many. This is still
a quite cash-dependant country with mundane issues over internet traffic pricing. Taxi that is taking routes like a bus. And the unrequited love for international AliExpress, Apple Music, Google Play, Netflix, etc. Seems that
Chile’s biggest obstacle in e-commerce growth is the country size — only 18 million people, too little to get enough interest from the international online giants. So Chile is mostly talked about when speaking about LatAm market in general.
image from df.cl
However, I find Chilean local set-up quite interesting. First of all, there are
good old cash agents network — Servipag, Multicaja, Sencillito, that accept cash or card payments for a variety of services from utility bills to lotteries. Same as
in Africa, or as
used to be in Russia. All of them are pretty modern. Have their web portals, mobile apps, and the e-commerce websites can use them too — based on the code that is later paid off. This is
how online payment is done in cash-dependant countries more or less everywhere in the world.
Life with cash is pretty comfortable there. And one of the reasons are banks.
Banks in Chile are not particularly welcome to opening bank checking accounts to their citizens, less so the credit lines. It is a real pain to get a credit card if you are a student, or do not have enough employment history. Curiously, the
largest retailers like Falabella, Jumbo, Ripley took on some banks functions, and actually
issued their own credit cards to Chilenos (for high commissions).
What about debit cards, you would ask? Well, that is a lot easier. The debit card are issued under the
RedCompra payment scheme, accepted in all major stores and facilities, and online — through the its online equivalent of the system — Webpay. Both Redcompra and Webpay are controlled by the banks consortium, and sometimes frowned
upon, being called a monopoly.
image from Revista Revolver
For those many Chilenos that do not stand up to bank’s standards — there is a pretty unique and ubiquitous
Chilean way of banking. CuentaRUT. This is a debit card issued to the special checking account in the government bank — Banco Estado. Almost anyone can have it easily, even foreigners with Chilean residence. It acts as a usual debit card that
you would know, though with tough limits, and not applicable to payments in the overseas stores.
So the Chilean fintech is dealing with different issues that your country would — it is the ease
of getting a credit card, the scoring mechanism, the loans, and the ease of payment in the international websites, like Google or Netflix.
Anyone ready to relocate and help them out?