COO Latam, Cobis Topaz
JI: Topaz is a 30-year-old company from Uruguay. I joined the company in 2016, and we started working on a different strategy to turn Topaz into a global company with a presence in various markets with multiple products. As an established company, we have a great deal of knowledge and experience in the financial sector. We have grown significantly since 2016, from 30 Uruguayans working in the company and 47 clients to 1,600 collaborators and 270 clients in 25 countries today. This evolution was possible because of the execution of organic as well inorganic growth strategies, enabling us to enter other markets. From Uruguay, we entered Brazil and Argentina. We invested in more products and changed the culture of the company. We prefer to have our clients think of us as partners. We also made several acquisitions, starting with three companies in Brazil that helped us grow extensively. Brazil is important because the digital transformation taking place in the finance world is incredible, and we have successfully helped many companies in Brazil transform through our technology. We learn, build, and look for companies in Latin America that can provide us with greater visibility, clients, and relevant products to complement our platform. After an acquisition, we conduct an integration process in order to ensure we can instill the same values. That is why our acquisition processes take a long time. Topaz’s major benefit in Latin America is to quickly add more value to our clients.
MP: Cobiscorp has made great progress in developing the Spanish-speaking Latin American market of financial institutions, since it has consolidated a presence in practically all the Spanish-speaking countries in the region. Its portfolio includes important clients from different countries; however, like any other corporation, it sought to grow, and we saw a new opportunity and moment of growth in which it was important to strengthen the company’s capabilities. With that leadership position in the region, Cobiscorp joined Topaz Group, which held a strong position in Brazil and other Spanish-speaking countries in Latam. Cobiscorp was in 16 countries in Spanish-speaking Latin America and had a portfolio of more than 75 clients, namely financial institutions. Now, by merging with Topaz Group, our client portfolio has since grown to 270 clients across 25 countries in the Americas, including Brazil. Another important aspect is that the capabilities that we offer the market have also grown. We were previously focused on core banking platforms, which is the central platform that a bank requires to operate. The acquisition performed by Topaz Group has expanded our portfolio of solutions, with the aim of being an ally and strategic partner of any financial institution, because we are now able to support the entire end-to-end process of their business with our solutions with a complete banking platform. Today, all banks are working on the digital transformation of their institutions, and the solutions that Topaz brings completes this entire transformation process, providing channels, security platforms, platforms for immediate, and instant payments. This was also the main driver of this acquisition. With this union, we are consolidating ourselves as the leader in Latin America, including Brazil. However, our goal is to have a greater presence in more regions. Topaz Group is also part of the Stefanini Group, a huge corporation in 44 countries with 35-40 companies in its portfolio and over 32,000 employees. One of those companies is what used to be Cobiscorp, which is now Cobis Topaz.
MP: Ecuador has made noteworthy progress in the digitalization of the financial sector, though in comparison to countries such as Brazil, it still lags further behind. Topaz Group’s experience in Brazil is our other differentiator, since practices, regulatory changes, and digitalization trends that occurred in Brazil are now coming to the entire region. For example, Brazil implemented an instant payment platform from Topaz called Pix in 2019-2020, and now the entire Brazilian financial system can make payments from their cellphones instantly at no cost. We are currently in talks with the central banks in Ecuador, Colombia, and Panama about instant payments and payment methods. Almost every country’s agenda includes implementing instant payment schemes. Given our experience in Brazil and our technology, we are ready to support this wave of digital transformation of the financial system in Latam.
JI: The world is all about trends. The digitalization trend that has already succeeded in Brazil is now coming to Ecuador and Latin America. The pandemic has shown that digitalization is imminent and no longer optional. It is the way to transform society. We all act, relate, and work differently now. There are many interesting digitization initiatives for financial inclusion. In Ecuador, there are major social differences, and institutions are focused on building a base to become more digital. Digitalization is the first step to a strong transformation. In the future, the finance world will no longer have borders, with innovations such as digital currencies and the ability to conduct transactions between different ecosystems where differences in currencies will not pose a hinderance. Financial transactions now go inside the financial sector, so a digital currency will circulate in different ecosystems because it will be self-regulated. That is why digital transformation is necessary and is the reason why we are working and investing heavily in technology. As a company, we are global, and we bring Ecuador the know-how we have accumulated from other countries. We have spoken to the Central Bank of Ecuador about instant payments. In Brazil, instant payments are revolutionizing the market and have helped to boost social inclusion and businesses. This is something different for banks, though it is necessary. We participated in that transformation and are working with different central banks in Latin America. We are a company that understands clients’ needs and provides greater value.
MP: I am optimistic that this will happen, as there is a combination of factors that will smooth the path. There has to be a supportive legal framework as well as an alignment of the entire ecosystem of the financial sector for that to occur; however, Ecuador is already moving in that direction and is acquiring technologies and adopting practices
that are already being used in other countries. For example, in 2020-2021 we implemented our technology for a Mexican fintech, and in 2023 Walmart acquired this fintech to expand its portfolio of financial services to all its clients. Customers who want to buy a refrigerator from Walmart but do not have the money can access a loan directly from Walmart to buy it immediately, and this was made possible with our technology. Accordingly, we are extremely excited about the developments we are seeing in the region right now.
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