Santander Puts Cash into ePesos

October 17, 2017         By: Steven Anderson

Mobile payments are a market that’s reaching out all over the world. It’s getting to be downright huge in Africa, for example, and the Chinese are running with that ball to such a point that China might be cashless by choice before too many more years have passed. Mexico isn’t immune to this development either, as Santander and a group of investors just dropped $6 million into Mexican mobile payments startup firm ePesos.

Santander—rather, its venture capital arm for fintech operations Santander InnoVentures—led the round, backed up by Gentera’s Fiinlab, Pomona Impact, and VilCap Investments, reports noted.  That’s some high-caliber backing, and ePesos has an unusual premise behind it to help draw interest.

The biggest thing that ePesos offers is a revolving line of credit for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) that don’t already have a bank account. Not only that, but ePesos is also stepping up its work in payroll advances, giving employees readier access to cash for those times when a little extra is needed.

Reports suggest that Santander considers this a foothold in the Latin American market. Though it’s put investment into 17 different fintech startups so far, this is a comparative first as a move into this market.

Santander InnoVentures’ Manuel Silva Martinez, head of investments, noted “Our investment in ePesos is a proof of our commitment to global financial inclusion and helping small businesses prosper – something Santander InnoVentures has made a priority.”

All of this is reasonable enough; giving small businesses access to tools that might formerly only have been available at a bank, and through a mobile interface, could represent an attractive prospect for small businesses that don’t see the value of a full bank. There are probably plenty of small vendors or even small manufacturing operations that could get behind such a notion, and if ePesos can get it in play rapidly enough, it could gain a first-mover advantage in a potentially large market. That in turn could make its investors a nice pot of cash as well.

This is all strictly speculative at this point, but it’s a safe bet Santander’s already considered the impact of such operations going forward. Putting some investment into an operation like this is an excellent hedge and may well pay off long-term.