The Mexican banking landscape is very similar to other Latin American countries. Tens of millions of people are unbanked and underbanked. Everyday people don’t have access to a bank account, let alone credit or loans.
On the other hand, predatory microloan companies are haunting poor people and making them sell their houses or land in order to pay off a debt of only a couple of hundred dollars.
In this kind of environment, digital banks can have a crucial role in helping the people and even the society as a whole.
There are more than a dozen digital banks on the Mexican market, however, according to some reports, they aren’t making the dent they were hoping for.
There are several reasons for that. First of all, the neobanks aren’t really focusing on the unbanked but on the urban areas where most Mexicans already have bank accounts as well as on the middle class.
On the other hand, the regulation hasn’t been loosened enough, and fintech companies aren’t getting banking licenses. That means that fintech bank account users still have to connect their new account to a licensed bank.
Since the new, so-called Fintech Law was introduced in 2018, around 60 fintech companies have been approved for payment licenses, but, and this is important, none have been issued with a retail banking license.
With so much potential, the Mexican digital banking landscape is set to look very different in a few years if the regulators and the fintechs do their part.
Next, we’ll list the most notable digital banks present in México.
Albo is one of the leading digital banks in México, with over 1M users. The company was founded in 2016 in México City and has already raised over $72M from investors.
This fintech company offers a personal and business account coupled with a free international Mastercard. As is the case with most other digital banks, the account can be quickly and easily opened from your smartphone.
The fees are low or non-existent, and you don’t have to worry about paying anything to transfer or receive money, and you can also pay online or in-store with the app or debit card.
There are no monthly maintenance fees, no minimum balances, annuities, or interbank transfer fees. So, everything is in line with the general digital banking practice.
Remittances from the US are still one of the most important sources of currency for México. In 2021 alone, $51 billion dollars were sent to México. The amount of money spent on fees must be staggering.
For that reason, Broxel, founded more than ten years ago, is positioning itself as a challenger bank that is waiving any fees for remittances from the US.
Since Cinco de Mayo 2022, the Mexican American community in the US is able to send money to their families south of the border at zero cost.
However, Broxel offers more than free money transfers. You can open a bank account in pesos in México and an account in dollars in the US and manage both accounts from one Broxel Pay App.
Other than this feature, you can pay your bills, charge the account with LOOP or a link, buy insurance, and much more. There’s also a business bank account if you need one.
Cuenca is a challenger bank from México City founded in 2018 and backed by Stripe and Andreessen Horowitz.
Like most other neobanks on our list of Mexican digital banks, the account opening is streamlined and can be done in a few minutes.
You don’t even need to provide an ID to open a Level 1 account which has a total balance limit of $6,500 pesos and deposits of $5,000 pesos per month.
For an account with no such limitations, you will have to provide your Mexican Passport, Residence Card, Consular Registration, or INE.
Once you open a Cuenca account, you can link your bank account and deposit cash in more than 18 thousand establishments.
With Cuenca, it’s easy to send and receive bank transfers via SPEI. All you need is to use your interbank CLABE, and you can transfer between Cuenca accounts via WhatsApp and banks.
That way, they don’t have to charge for their services and they can keep their bank accounts mostly fee-free.
The app or its Mastercard don’t really stand out from the rest of the pack as there are no additional features.
Evva is a digital business bank account that offers financing for businesses in partnership with Uniclick by Unifin, which has funded thousands of SMEs in México.
The Evva business account is suitable for small and medium businesses, as well as freelancers. The account is issued by Kuspit Casa de Bolsa, and the funds are managed by Scotia Global Asset Management.
The name EVVA comes from Entrepreneurship, Veracity, Velocity, and Accessible. Apart from the business account, EVVA also offers other services via its marketplace.
There are the previously mentioned SME financing & loans, digital rewards, digital contracts, Escrow secure transactions, and tax services.
Flink is a fast-growing digital bank and investment platform that was founded in 2017 in México City.
The investing platform is what attracted more than 1M users, of which 800,000 have a brokerage account. You can start trading from as little as $30 pesos without commission.
90% of Flink users are, in fact, first-time investors, which isn’t surprising as there are hardly any alternatives on the Mexican market.
However, the companies you can invest in are listed on the New York Stock Exchange, similar to apps like Revolut, Cash App, and others that offer stock investing. You can also buy whole shares or fractions, which makes it much more accessible to everyday people.
Apart from investing, users can also use a virtual and physical card as well as stash money in one of the savings plans.
Fondeadora is a Mexican fintech that’s, just like most other fintechs, located in México City. It was founded in 2018 and is a popular traditional banking alternative.
The company offers personal and business accounts that you can open in 5-10 minutes. You also get a debit card, instant transfers, alerts for purchases and other transactions in real time, and other typical digital banking stuff.
Where the app does differentiate itself from others on the market is the ability to obtain a metallic debit card.
Apart from looking cool, it has other benefits, such as access to the Elite Lounge Mastercard and Elite Valet Service at AICM, ATM withdrawal protection, an extended warranty for purchases, and more.
To get the metallic card, you simply need to complete the shopping goal in a set time period. For instance, spend $30,000 MXN in three months.
Hey Banco is a Mexican digital bank located in San Pedro, Nuevo Leon. This fact already sets it apart from most other digital banks in México that are headquartered in México City.
However, it’s even younger than other fintechs, as it was founded as recently as 2019. There are both personal and business accounts on offer, as well as investing, a credit line for both people and businesses, and a POS terminal.
There are four types of personal accounts (Hey, Hey Plus, Smart, Smart X), each with more or less useful benefits.
The top Smart X account guarantees the following:
- No minimum opening amount
- Free transfers 24/7
- Pay and Collect with CoDi
- Withdraw at Banregio ATMs free of charge
- No monthly fee
- Get Basic Life Protection for $25,000 pesos
- Limitless monthly deposits
Klar was, like many others, founded in 2018. Since then, the company has seen an influx of users, now standing at more than 1,4M.
And like others, the account opening is easy, there are no monthly maintenance fees, and you get a free Mastercard debit card.
What does set apart this digital bank from others is up to 4% cashback on every purchase as well as access to buy now, pay later services.
Lastly, the company offers up to $20,000 MXN credit lines without credit score checks.
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Kueski pay isn’t a digital bank account but a digital payment method that allows you to buy now, pay later. It’s a very popular financing model at the moment, and Kueski Pay is a very popular platform.
You don’t need a card to use it. All is done in the app. You can choose the duration of the credit that suits you best and even customize your interest rate.
To apply for an account, all you need is to be a Mexican national, have a Mexican phone number, and be of legal age.
You can pay your balance through a bank transfer with CLABE, with cash at OXXO, from the BBVA app, or at a BBVA Practicaja.
To approve and deliver loans in such a short period of time (a couple of minutes), the company uses big data and advanced analytics.
This makes for a seamless and paperless process that’s available 24/7. Kueski is the most convenient online lending medium for those who need a quick loan.
Miio is a bit different from other digital banks in México in that it offers a digital bank account, a Mastercard, loans, and a mobile phone service in one app.
The mobile phone service plans start from $149 and go all the way to $499 per month.
The digital account is regulated by the National Banking and Securities Commission and protected by PROSOFIPO. To load your account, you can make a bank transfer, deposit money at Bancomer branches and ATMs, or use credits via Oxxo.
Jointly, there are more than 60 million Nubank users in these three countries, with the vast majority present in Brazil.
What put Nu on the map are its credit cards without annual fees and without small print. You can order one in a few minutes and then adjust the limit in the app together with the payment deadline.
Other than their famous credit card, you can also buy now and pay later anything that costs more than $100, connect the card to Apple Pay, as well as no charge for restocking, cash withdrawals, or its use abroad.
To open a Nu México account, you simply need to have Mexican nationality or live in México, have valid official identification (INE or, if you are a foreigner, your temporary or permanent residence card), and your RFC (Federal Taxpayer Registry).
RappiPay is a digital bank founded in Bogota, Colombia, in 2018 and is present in Peru and México as well.
This Latin American fintech offers a run-of-the-mill digital bank account. There are no fees, a free Visa debit card that you can use anywhere in the world, a sleek mobile app, and similar things.
There’s nothing really that differentiates it from other similar digital banks on the market.
Revolut is a global digital bank account that is expanding to Latin America. Specifically, México, Brazil, Chile, and Ecuador.
Fintech from the UK has more than 18 million users worldwide, with the majority of them in Europe. More than 500,000 businesses have also registered for an account.
Users around the world can hold 30+ currencies in one app, which is great if you’re dealing with more currencies than one.
There are usually three or four different personal and business account types, depending on the country. One is free of charge and is enough for everyday banking and shopping needs.
If you want a metallic debit card, you will need to pay for the top account, which costs $16.99/m in the US and £12.99/m in the UK.
Revolut accounts offer many benefits to their users, including a Revolut junior account, personalized debit cards, savings interest, and investing in crypto, stocks, and commodities (silver and gold).
Stori is a popular credit card and app that already serves more than 1M people in México. It’s headquartered in México City and was founded in 2017. Almost $250M has been injected into the company, which signals investors have a lot of confidence in it.
The credit card is backed by Mastercard and lets you use it anywhere in the world where Mastercards are accepted.
To get the Stori card, you will need your current INE, a valid proof of address, your selfie, and a debit card.
There are no annuity payments or even any paperwork. Only one opening fee is present, and it ranges from $0 to $500 pesos.
The accompanying app doesn’t have many features and is there almost exclusively to support credit cards, to see the limits, make repayments, etc.
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Swap is one of the older digital banks in México. It was founded in 2014 and is a popular P2P payment app that now comes with a Visa debit card.
You can send money to anyone, whether they have a Swap account or not. Alternatively, you can transfer cash using a card number or CLABE account.
Even WhatsApp is supported, and you can send or receive money directly from chats.
The money transfers are free if you:
- Use your Visa or MasterCard debit cards
- Send money from your Swap Balance
- Withdraw from your Swap Balance to your bank account
- Do an interbank transfer to your CLABE Swap account
Otherwise, there’s a 3% fee for using Visa or Mastercard credit cards and a 5% fee for using Amex credit cards.
Benefits of digital banks in Mexico
Digital banks have finally given México’s unbanked and underbanked people the ability to open a free bank account using a smartphone without the need to go to a branch.
Digital banks in México offer credit cards without annual fees and with much more suitable interest rates than the insatiable traditional banks.
There are other benefits as well, of course. Apart from the previously mentioned credit cards and fee-free accounts, the other advantages are the ease of opening an account without barely any documents and the digital banking apps’ overall ease of use.
People can now send money instantly to friends, family, or institutions. Pay bills, shop online or in-store, and even buy now, pay later. The days of excessive fees and days of waiting to get the money seem to be over.
All financial apps in México also have the state of the art security standards that include secure logins via fingerprint or 2FA and real-time alerts every time you spend money with your app or card.
Another benefit is the budgeting and analytics feature that helps you see exactly where your money is going and what category you’re spending the most (rent, restaurants, take-away, car…). You can set limits so that you don’t overspend and can save a few pesos.
Although there are now many digital banks present in México, they are still focusing too much on the urban middle class and not enough on the millions of unbanked people in rural areas around the country.
They are, however, offering services that are on par with digital banks across the world, including easy account opening, offering accounts for both personal and business customers, instant and free money transfers, free ATM withdrawals, and even investing.
In 5 to 10 years, some of the banks on this list will have tens of millions of customers across Latin America as the domestic market gets too saturated.
This will also hopefully push them into profitability and graduate from start-ups to companies listed on the stock markets in México or even in the US.