COLOMBIA - Finance
José Manuel Ayerbe Osorio joined Grupo Aval in 2012 as corporate marketing vice president and led the creation of the Experiencias Aval program. He carried out the rebranding of the group in 2015 and launched the Tuplús loyalty program in 2019. In addition, he was in charge of key innovation projects such as the dale! digital wallet. He was previously Acting CEO of dale!, a position he took over permanently in 2022.
dale! is the fintech that leads Grupo Aval’s financial inclusion strategy. Colombia has evolved in terms of financial inclusion and increasing the percentage of people covered by the banking system. Competitors, such as traditional banking, neobanks, and fintechs have forced us to work harder to offer easier, newer, and lower-cost products and services. Another aspect we have to strengthen is to consolidate the habit of digital payments people acquired during the pandemic. Small businesses started accepting other payment methods, like QR codes or mobile, because they had to offer different alternatives to their customers. Another aspect that helped to increase the inclusion figures was that the government began to assign subsidies to low-income people. Most beneficiaries received the subsidies through digital wallets, to the point where now more than 4 million people receive their government subsidies through digital products such as dale! This is a good example of financial inclusion. Multiple challenges remain. Many people are covered by financial services, and almost 90.6% of the Colombian population has at least one savings or deposit account. However, a recent study that shows that only 30% of people are active in a financial portfolio. So, a lot of people are not doing anything with their financial products; they have the potential, but they are not using them. The challenge is to get them to move their money through the digital ecosystem. For example, most of the people who receive subsidies withdraw the full balance and take the cash. We need people to use their financial products digitally and discourage the use of cash. That is what dale! aims to do.
Grupo Aval has already been moving forward in its digital transformation since 2018. First, we focused on the digitalization of existing products and the automation of banking transactions to reduce structural costs. A recent step we took was the dale! wallet, which allows people to make electronic accounts with low fees, and to interact with their money by sending and receiving funds through the interconnected channels that exist in Colombia, which include TransfiYa, secure online payments (PSE), ATMs, and banking correspondents. We are now making substantial investments in technology to increase the wallet’s growth capacity. The other focus of the strategy concerns having digital clients. It is not enough to have millions of clients; they must also be digital, because most clients with wallets receive subsidies. Most of them just withdraw all the money and disappear until the next subsidy payment. Our challenge is to design strategies for them to keep that money in the digital ecosystem and interact with other people and businesses. Another pillar of our strategy is providing financial services to non-financial entities. For example, the LifeMiles wallet—LifeMiles Pay—Avianca’s loyalty program, has around 5 million beneficiaries, and LifeMiles wanted to create a wallet for them. Here, dale! is a white-label platform that offers all of the financial services to LifeMiles in a way that enables their clients, within their own ecosystem, to make financial transactions, with us offering the services. That is another way of attracting digital clients.
We have one called Plurall, which offers microcredits at low cost to entrepreneurs, and we will be acting as their wallet. The loan amount is disbursed in dale! and with the co-branded debit card Plurall-dale!, entrepreneurs can use the money. The other one is called Wallo, a physical and digital banking correspondent with a large network of banking correspondents, especially on the north coast of Colombia, and which wants to offer its clients debit cards to enable them to make business transactions, purchases, and deposits.