Latinia, a Spanish company that develops software infrastructure, is celebrating its tenth anniversary as a leader in the field of SMS banking, while riding a wave of expansion. Alejandro Olabarria, Latinia’s CEO and executive president, notes that the company’s growth involves bringing its value proposal, endorsed by the leading financial institutions and public bodies in Spain and the LatAm region, into new markets. “Our challenge now is to continue to innovate in the field of corporate and financial notifications, in a technological array that keeps opening up year after year with new developments such as the iPhone notifications system or even Twitter.”
Olabarria explains some of the key achievements in these past ten years, such as addressing a “very specific need” with a “highly focused” technological and market approach. Along the same lines, he adds that from the outset Latinia has had a solid belief in its opportunities and its project, after the uncertainties that arose in the market for technology companies in 2001, and also emphasizes that “to lead in innovation you have to be able to rely openly and implicitly on the collaboration of your customers and your technological partners.”
The corporate world versus the rise of mobile content
Over the past ten years, Latinia has managed to position itself as a leading software vendor of platform products for SMS banking in such a way that its products are now used to send more than 200 million financial messages each year. Olabarria explains that they started out in the SMS messaging environment before business models based on Premium rate structures even existed, which became popular through the media and TV shows, but that “at that time, our company was already focusing on the corporate sector, which was less attractive compared to the rising mobile entertainment world but where we believed we could cover more ground and make a more sustainable contribution of value over time.”
Moving in this direction, Latinia was the first company to use 2-way SMS for stock price queries: “In 1999 our company was able to see that in addition to the mass media, the corporate world was also going to be relying on texting to offer services and reach out to customers and citizens,” Olabarria notes.
An outlook of growth and expansion
In 2008 the company began its process of expansion into Latin America, where already has some outstanding customer references such as Santander Puerto Rico, Telefonica Internacional, Redeban Multicolor, the Master Card and Maestro processor in Colombia, or Banco de Bogotá, and projects to follow the same successful path in Europe this coming season.
“Although its deployment is still somewhat timid, mobile banking is revealing to us a major new approach through its use as a payment tool (and not merely as an access channel), and that’s why we’re opening up this angle for markets where the banking system is less established, such as Latin America, where on one hand the level of mobile penetration is now reaching 100%, whereas the development of the banking system is expressed in dramatically lower figures, raising the possibility of bringing in enormous pools of users who are establishing their first relationships with financial institutions and handling services and payments through their mobile handset,” he concluded.
In 2010 the company has also commenced operations in the main European markets, “although in dealing with such specific products, Latinia is going more after opportunities than markets per se, since the geographic range may turn out to be very extensive,” Olabarria explains. “At all events, the opportunity is as great in Europe as in Latin America, although here mobile banking is a much more mature and contested market. No matter how you look at it, both approaches underscore the need to be equipped with a platform product for the deployment and provision of mobile financial services, and this,” he concludes, “is the opportunity the market is offering us after 10 years of helping big corporations to adapt to these new channels.”