Banca Azteca Brings Easy Internet Banking to the Mexican Masses
By THÉRÈSE MARGOLIS
Banca Azteca, the Mexican banking chain founded in 2002 by the retail sales and investment conglomerate Grupo Elektra, has always been in the vanguard when it comes to catering to its customers’ needs.
After all, from the very get-go, Banca Azteca has been about financial inclusion, making banking easier and more accessible to members of economically and geographically marginalized segments of Mexican society with simple-to-process inscriptions, effortless paperwork and straightforward savings accounts that virtually anyone can open with as little as a single peso.
Banca Azteca also developed a special line of “Somos” tailored checking and savings accounts for small businesses run by women, and offers an ample range of no-frills, no-surprises consumer credits, personal loans, small business loans, credit cards, mortgages and payroll systems, setting up branches in parts of the country where no other bank chain dared to go.
And Banca Azteca is also the first bank in Mexico to allow its customers to receive monthly deposits greater than 23,000 pesos a month in payments or even remittances from abroad through digital transfers.
So it should come as no surprise that Banca Azteca is now one of only four bank chains nationwide to offer its customers simplified, online account upgrades, and the only one that provides those upgrades immediately and automatically, without the client having to wait for a 24-hour processing period.
In fact, the entire upgrade process takes less than seven minutes, and is safe and easy, requiring minimal paperwork.
“We want to make banking less intimidating and more attainable for all Mexicans,” Azteca Bank spokesperson and director of deposits and card management Laura Elena Rubio Suástegui told Pulse News Mexico in a recent interview.
“A lot of people are put off by the idea of having to file piles of paperwork and other documents in order to open or upgrade an account, so many of them just avoid having bank accounts all together.”
She’s right: According to the international financial and insurance analysis service Statista, barely 35 percent of adult Mexicans today even have a banking or other financial institution account, and that number is less than the comparable figure of 39 percent in 2014.
“Our goal is to make our customers feel welcome, not intimidated, and that is why we have opened nearly 2,000 branches nationwide and made online banking easy and convenient.”
Rubio Suástegui went on to note that while Mexicans may be shy to walk into a brick-and-mortar bank, they aren’t bashful about using the internet and their smartphones.
According to figures provided by Banca Azteca, a whopping 73 percent of adult Mexicans own a smartphone, and 69 percent have internet service in their homes.
“That is the market we want to reach,” Rubio Suástegui said, “so we are making remote banking attractive and user-friendly.”
It isn’t just in Mexico that internet banking has become the gold standard for attracting new customers.
But to court the Mexican market, where consumers are often leery of financial institutions that have historically made filing processes more complex than a red-tape nightmare in a Franz Kafka novel, the only way to win over new customers is to keep it simple.
“People in Mexico — especially young people — feel comfortable making financial transfers and deposits using a mobile application,” Rubio Suástegui said, “so just like we pioneered opening branches in parts of the country that other banks never bothered with, we are breaking ground by letting our clients open and upgrade their accounts without ever having to leave their homes, while at the same time ensuring that their personal information is both safe and verified.”
By coordinating and verifying personal biometrics and facial recognition technology online with the National Electoral Institute (INE), Banca Azteca can check and authenticate applicants’ data to prevent possible identity thefts, she said.
“Our technology is cutting-edge and highly protected against cyber attacks, so we can offer an integrated, 100-percent digital experience that makes banking quick, easy and even fun for just about every Mexican.”