Contxto – At almost a dozen startups, Central America is an overlooked fintech powerhouse. The reason is probably because people often think of this Latin American region in terms of its smaller constituent countries: Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama.
Yet, with a market of over 44 million people (greater than Argentina’s population), fintech from Central America is nothing to scoff at.
Fintech in Central America
This region has a strength that comes with its understanding of its small individual markets. Not only are Central America’s countries some of the smallest in the region; they also don’t fare too well in terms of their purchasing power.
Their answer has been to unify—even going as far as to contemplate the Caribbean within their sphere of influence—. This is what contender super-app OMNi is trying to do, taking on turf untouched by Rappi.
However, with its conjoined market, Central America offers many opportunities for diversification.
Space for diversification in fintech
The main challenge Central American fintech faces is a lack of tech infrastructure and knowhow. That’s why social impact funds are important players here. IDB Invest recently poured almost US$40 million in a debt round into Cuscastlan which elsewhere may have been covered by the market.
Therefore, many of these startups cover services that may be considered “basic” in bigger fintech hubs. This explains both why online payments services abound and why only one of them is actually registered as an official billing platform.
However, there is always a chance to technologically leapfrog their other Latin American competitors. My eye is on ambitious, region-spanning solutions like OMNi’s.
One thing is for sure, all of these fintech startups are helping to drive development and innovation in Central America.
But, do you have a favorite? Let us know and/or register it on our database!