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Francisco León Director, PayU

COLOMBIA - Finance

Francisco León

Director, PayU


Francisco León studied finance and international relations at Externado de Colombia University. He is a specialist in risk economics from Andes University and holds an MBA from EUDE Business School in Madrid as well as executive training from INSEAD in Fontainebleau, Adolfo Ibañez University in Chile, and Krauthammer in New Delhi and Amsterdam. He was in charge of the credit and risk divisions of Banco Fallabela in Colombia for nearly 10 years and has been linked to PayU since the beginning in 2017, working as global director of risks, financial director of Latam, and general director of PayU Brazil. He assumed the position of Director of the business in the seven countries where PayU operates in 2020.

"We are a global payment company and have enabled payments in more than 50 markets."
PayU aims to become the best payments partner for international merchants, with a focus on increasing operations in Latin America, including Colombia, and helping SMEs grow through its strategy of solutions.
PayU is one of the world’s largest payment service providers. What is your mandate?

We are a global payment company and have enabled payments in more than 50 markets. Our objective is to break the financial borders worldwide and become the best partner for international merchants. We aim to have all big global e-commerce companies transact with us in all the countries we operate. Our strategy is to increase our operations in Latin America so that our customers can connect once with us and then operate in Argentina, Mexico, or any other country in the region. The company’s history in Colombia started with, founded long before the era of e-commerce and online payments. It focused on fraud management tools, which is why it survived all the significant difficulties on this matter and has instead expanded across the region. Around this time, a South African company acquired the company and turned into PayU Latam. In 2018, we started with a major project to standardize PayU in terms of our offerings and how we operate. We did it around the world, and we have what we call the Global Pay Me Organization (GPO). Under it, we have offices in more than 18 countries. In Latin America, we have offices in five countries. We created a global platform, and the objective was to simplify the connection of our merchants that we treat more like partners, not clients. We became the best payment partner, helping our partners to grow their businesses. Our operations in Latin America are found in seven countries, including Mexico, Panama, Colombia, Peru, Argentina, Chile, and Brazil. In addition, we opened four new countries: Honduras, Guatemala, Costa Rica, and El Salvador. We facilitate payments, and we want to create more opportunities for merchants and help e-commerce make bigger steps in terms of growth. In Colombia, we control about 60% of the market share of digital transactions, and we want to help small and medium merchant enterprises, which is part of our strategy. We have more than 5 million SMEs in Colombia, and the penetration of digital payments in that segment is less than 4%. Therefore, the opportunity in SMEs is enormous, and we are focused on the strategy to help those companies to grow and create an ecosystem. SMEs need more than payments; they also need lending, credit, fintech, and wallets. We are therefore working to have a strategy of solutions for SMEs.

How will the acquisition of DING help boost financial inclusion for SMEs?

The authorities formalized the acquisition of DING in September, and we are looking to create that ecosystem. We are experts in digital payments and know how to do it. However, the needs of micro- to medium businesses are different, because they need digital payments, lending, and credit. There are more than 25,000 small and medium merchants in Colombia, and we know that the opportunity is not in these 25,000 but in the 5 million. We do it differently because we need to create an ecosystem, and part of that strategy is the acquisition of DING.

How important is the Colombian market for PayU in regional and global operations?

At the global level, PayU has four crucial countries that are highly significant: Colombia, India, Poland, and Turkey. We have two strategies. The first is a global strategy, where we operate with a worldwide budget in 50 countries to offer payment services; however, in the four economies, we have a different strategy, and we also want to impact SMEs and the consumer side. Colombia is our main operation in Latin America, and we have invested heavily here. In the four countries, our objective is to make a significant impact, create value for the market, and grow and develop the ecosystem. The boom of digital payments that the pandemic created helped to spur a high level of innovation and close the gap between different economies in terms of technology.



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