Cash to your door

Cash delivery app brings ATMs closer to rural Bolivia.

A new cash delivery app, developed in Bolivia, is attracting international attention. “Blink takes a step into the future, reducing the physical dependency on ATM access. Although worldwide ATM usage is decreasing, it is not happening in Latin America,” commented a fintech expert in Bolivia.

With only 40 ATMs per 100,000 people but a population of 11 million people including 70,000 taxi drivers, Bolivia would appear to be the ideal test-bed for a cash delivery service.

A user enters the amount they want to withdraw into the app and agrees for it to be taken out of their registered bank account in addition to a service fee. A nearby taxi driver accepts the request, visits an ATM and withdraws the correct amount for the user from their own account and delivers it to the user. Once the delivery is completed, the driver receives a code allowing them to recover the amount plus a commission from any ATM.

Given the characteristics of the country, and similar developing countries, the app presents an interesting solution to one aspect of social inequality. An executive of a development bank explained, “Although banks and ATMs are easy to find in cities, the situation is very different in rural areas, this app allows access to cash without incurring such high fixed costs.”

“Although banks or ATMs are easy to find in cities, the situation is very different in rural areas.”

Manager, development bank, Latin America

Our sources believe there are 2 main risks facing Blink. The first is that of security. “In Bolivia and poor countries, if a taxi is going to have more than 200 Bs (almost USD 30) on a regular basis, it will attract the attention of criminals. The second risk is the business model, “While this is an interesting business model, there is a risk that the users and intermediaries could be scammed. Let’s not forget that Uber is leaving Bolivia precisely because of this – the taxis do not pay the money they owe.”

Even so, the general perspectives of the consulted sources are quite optimistic. “It’s a great idea and that after launching in Bolivia, I’m sure it will make the leap to several countries,” said one senior executive at a Bolivian bank. In this regard, Henry Medina, CEO of Blink, precisely explains that the idea after launching it in Bolivia in late April or early May, is to expand to the world. “Currently in Bolivia we have the support of Banco de Crédito BCP, which is also the largest bank in Peru,” he said.

“Although there is no specific regulation, since it will become a money intermediary, the ASFI, at any time, could issue a resolution that restricts this activity,”

Executive, Bolivian bank

The executive of a Bolivian bank believes Blink should go international sooner rather than later, “Although there is no specific regulation, since it will become a money intermediary, the ASFI (Banking System Supervision Authority), at any time could issue a resolution that restricts Blinks activity. Also, they will need to raise capital to grow and in Bolivia this is difficult, if not impossible.”

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