Interview: VeriTran CEO Marcelo González Explains Why the Company Continues to Grow in Latin America’s Banking Security Sector
Marcelo González, the CEO of VeriTran, has been building the 12-year-old company into a growing provider of cybersecurity solutions for banks throughout Latin America. The firm works with large financial institutions throughout the region to offer token-based verification.
González sat down recently with Loren Moss of Finance Colombia to share some of the company’s secrets in driving down costs for their banking partners while at the same time improving the customer experience across various channels.
“We make a digital banking platform that works across the mobile channel, internet banking channel, smartphones, tablets, smart TVs, and more.” – Marcelo González of VeriTran
Loren Moss: Can you tell me a little bit about the VeriTran company. What are the products or solution that VeriTran offers?
Marcelo González: VeriTran is a company that offers a digital banking product, a safe digital banking product. I have more than 35 banks in Latin America with clients like Banco Estado in Chile, and others in Colombia, Mexico, and Argentina.
Jointly, our platform represents more than four billion transactions per year in Latin America and basically what it allows is not only the digital transformation of financial institutions but also a permanent update of all the channels. We make a digital banking platform that works across the mobile channel, internet banking channel, smartphones, tablets, smart TVs, and more. I mean, we cover all the banking channels.
Loren Moss: So, it’s like an interface that connects with your core banking with the client.
Marcelo González: Exactly. Sometimes the industry, in its evolution, has developed different security schemes in each channel. So, for example, if you interact through online website, you go in in one way. If you go in through mobile banking, you go in in another. If you reach a representative at the call center, you have to identify yourself in another way.
What we offer is a platform with a very secure scheme model: “Soft Token,” which combines biometric identification, fingerprints, voice, facial, recognition for all the channels. So, the person always goes in the same way and the bank doesn’t have to repeat the developments for each one of the channels.
Loren Moss: Why did you decide to establish the company here in Colombia?
Marcelo González: The company is a multilatina. It is established in Argentina, in Chile, in Peru, in Colombia, and in Mexico. Particularly here in Colombia, geographically this is a strategic point. Argentina is too far south, and we have really had very good results. It’s been four years since we started working here in Colombia, and we have more than 50 employees in Colombia.
Loren Moss: Why did you decide that the banking area need another solution? What is the advantage of the solution that you offer, and what made you realize that you needed to do something different from what already existed? There are some giants in this sector, and it is always changing with a lot of disruption right now.
Marcelo González: The company has been in existence for 12 years. We have reviewed the main innovations in the financial system in Latin America. We were the first to develop mobile applications — we’re talking about years ago. Neither Android nor iPhone existed. I mean, we’re talking about another world.
We have really been the pioneers in the evolution and the innovation in the financial system in Latin America, and one of the fundamental characteristics is that we are dedicated exclusively to the financial industry, which gives us a lot of focus.
Generally, what we observe is that there is a great opportunity in the Latin American market because the traditional European and North American model of attention has a cost of between $20 USD and $30 USD per year to attend to each client. That is the approximate cost if they are efficient. That cost is the consequence of distributing credit cards, debit cards, passwords, ATMs, building branch offices.
With our model of attention, we bring that cost of $20 to $30 USD down to a model that is between $2 to $3 USD per year. It is reduced drastically.
Loren Moss: You make it easier for the consumer and also cheaper for the bank.
Marcelo González: And something very important, apart from all of this transactional part, is the communication with the client. By means of notifications. The bank ensures that it has communicated with the client. Through an alert or an economic offer from our security module, the client can, for example, contract products directly from the mobile channel.
“Something very important, apart from all of this transactional part, is the communication with the client.” – González
Loren Moss: That seems to me very important because we’re in a state of so much change here in Colombia. The country is modernizing rapidly. I remember my first time in Colombia, like 13 years ago, and it was a totally different world.
Now, Colombia is getting to the level, in its technology, of the more developed countries, but also there is a great percentage of the population that doesn’t have so much banking experience. They may be opening accounts in a bank for the first time. One thing I had to get accustomed to here was that there are a lot of people, especially senior citizens, who don’t know how to use an ATM, for example.
Marcelo González: I have a grandfather who is 97 years old who doesn’t know how to use an ATM. Usually, when all the social, cultural surroundings start to become commonplace, people adopt the technology. Just the same, we are facing a phenomenon of adoption of mobile technology and it is a very, very attractive way for people to communicate with their families. WhatsApp, send pictures, record messages. Really, they’re making use of WhatsApp not only as chat but also as multimedia. And that’s because they have an important stimulus to use it.
For our industry, what is required are permanent and intelligent campaigns to promote digital banking. You have to take advantage of every chance, every moment. When a person carries out a transaction, you recommend to him at that moment to use the most appropriate channel.
Loren Moss: It fascinates me and it’s good to see how that is coming to Colombia. Now seems to be a great time for you to grow in the market and in Latin America in general.
Marcelo González: Yes. We are offering a premium of almost 50% year by year: four billion transactions is a very important number.
Also, we have reached 100 employees. We have a model of management distributed in the region, and it’s really a very peculiar model, because it’s really a “central-peripheral” scheme. It can be in any country and we take advantage of the best of every country — of every region — and the capacity to use the decisions and analytics of each person. An organization can lose a certain capacity for innovation.
Loren Moss: True, true. That’s what happens. It’s like the paradoxical thing about growth, right? Because it’s more and more — bigger, more departmental — and you lose that advantage of having small group of entrepreneurs.
Marcelo González: Exactly. Flexibility. That’s something that we are working on a lot in the culture of the organization. When you divide an organization into specializations, something is lacking. There is the specialist in security, one in the technology, one in the systems, one in taxes. And since you need so many specialists, there is always one that is working, right? On the other hand, by creating interdisciplinary groups, all the projects that are carried out work much better.