This study by Americas Market Intelligence shows that early government subsidies have been critical to increasing access to the banking system. The Coronavoucher program (Brazil), Ingreso Solidario (Colombia), and Ingreso Familiar de Emergencia (Argentina) forced users who previously used only cash to open a bank account. The study states that thanks to the social benefit programs during COVID-19, the unbanked population throughout Latin America will have been reduced by 25 percent.
On the other hand, the quarantine changed people’s consumption habits and stimulated e-commerce. Latin American consumers quickly adopted the various payment options within digital banking and wallet applications, such as bill payment, e-commerce, mobile reloads, and especially person-to-person payments, which have doubled since the lockdown began. Last but not least, the pandemic is also changing attitudes toward long-term planning - the focus on savings, traditionally associated with wealth, has spread to low-income households.
Due to the social benefits and digital banking availability, 40 million people in Latin America have become bankers in the last five months. The time has come to focus on these consumers - they are at a very fragile point where they are barely getting to know their bank’s online platform. To avoid the risk of falling back on the scale of inclusion, financial institutions must provide them with products and features developed from a customer-centric approach. But, if universal financial inclusion is our goal as a society, we still have a long way to go.