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Argentina

No Open Banking

The eighth-largest country in the world, this South American nation has Open Banking in its sights.

At the beginning of 2023, 87% of Argentineans used the Internet.

In recent years, the BCRA (the Central Bank of Argentina) has advanced a series of regulations that favour interoperability; however, there is no regulation or standardisation of APIs that allow the country to address Open Banking as yet (p. 17).

Beyond the regulatory level, Argentina has a digital ecosystem and has been investing in innovating the national financial system last few years. Thus, whilst Argentina has not put in place an Open Banking implementation strategy yet, several banks and Fintech are currently developing APIs to operate in a more integrated and efficient way to bring benefits to the customer.

The BCRA (Central Bank of Argentina) has encouraged dialogue around Open Banking initiatives (p. 17). The BCRA and the UIF (Financial Information Unit) have incorporated some provisions into their regulations to support Open Banking. This includes allowing banks to share client information at their request for digital onboarding processes and drafting legislation for consumers to transfer their data. But these provisions have yet to be fully adopted in practice. While there is no official framework, Banco Industrial (BIND) launched its API Bank platform with Poincenot Technology Studio in 2018, becoming the first bank in Argentina to offer open APIs to the market.

The BCRA (the Central Bank of Argentina) has advanced a series of regulations that favour interoperability; however, there is no regulation or standardisation of APIs that allow the country to address Open Banking as of yet (p. 17).

The model for retail payments adopted in Argentina is a market-wide approach requiring that most payment service providers (PSPs) seamlessly transfer retail payments among themselves.

According to The Global Findex Database, 72% of Argentineans had bank accounts in 2021, leaving 28% unbanked. However, this is expected to decrease in the future. The COVID-19 pandemic made it evident that financial inclusion is limited due to reduced interoperability and restricted access to savings accounts and other financial products. However, similar to, for instance, Columbia, the pandemic accelerated financial inclusion. In Argentina, the government established Ingreso Familiar de Emergencia, to be paid into bank accounts or redeemed in cash at ATMs, post offices and retail stores. The government subsequently restricted payment to bank accounts only, but the incentive of ARS10,000 ($140) was still powerful enough to move three million previously unbanked to open an account.

Unbanked people also have other ways to access financial products, as 23% of Fintech borrowers were registered as unbanked and 47% as underbanked in Argentina.

The initiatives, such as¬†Ingreso Familiar de Emergencia, which has decreased the unbanked population, provide a straight, clear path to accessing funds ‚Äď and a strong start toward eventual financial integration.

Historically, in Argentina, the BCRA has worked collaboratively with the market to promote new regulations.

Fintech activity in Latin America has exhibited exponential growth from 30 million USD in 2017 to 129 million in 2018. Argentina occupies the 6th position in Latin America. According to Belvo, 273 Fintech operated in Argentina in 2020 (p. 13). The Fintech sector is among those which generated the highest number of new jobs in Argentina over the past year. 

Payment initiation¬†will be relevant for Latin America in the coming year. Payment systems have had a great evolution, particularly in the last two years; for example, Argentina has Transferencias 3.0, which is similar to Brazil’s PIX.

In 2018, 59% of companies in Argentina struggled to hire staff with the right skills. Argentina is particularly facing a complex scenario in terms of building, retaining and attracting digital talent, the public sector included.

Argentina ranked 75th out of 134 countries in¬†Wiley’s Digital Skills Global Index 2021.