Colombia is no exception when it comes to the popularity of real time payments. Nequi, which started its operations in 2016, has now reportedly already more than 10 million clients (7). The common theme of the already existing systems, like Nequi and Daviplata (11 million users), is that they were developed in the first instance by commercial banks and were limited to their respective target groups. Following the example of PIX in Brazil is no easy task and requires a lot of technical and regulatory changes.
The Colombian central bank decided to develop this cutting edge infrastructure with the help of a public-private partnership round table. According to the general director of the central bank, more than 150 entities, including payment system administrators, financial institutions, cooperatives, fintechs, and technology providers joined them throughout the last couple of months in various plenary sessions and working subgroups (2). As mentioned above, there are already private instant payment systems available in Colombia, and that is why one challenge will be to implement this national initiative to integrate with pre-existing infrastructures. With the technical support of the United Nations Better Than Cash Alliance, the central bank had the opportunity to learn about the models of Australia, the Philippines, Jordan, Ghana, India, and Peru. Furthermore, Colombia also received valuable technical assistance from the Economic Cooperation Programme – SECO of the Swiss Embassy (2).
The goal of the Colombian central bank is clear – in the near future, all Colombians should be able to make instant payments, from any bank, regardless of the type of bank account, 24/7, on a secure platform, and at low or no cost to the consumer. No launch date has been published so far, but citing the general director: “We will continue to move forward with the implementation of this project as quickly as possible in order to achieve a timely implementation as we know is demanded”.