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BCI to target 400,000 Chilean merchants with EVO JV

Banco de Credito e Inversiones SA plans to target roughly 400,000 merchants in Chile next year through its joint venture with U.S.-based EVO Payments Inc., executives said during an earnings call to discuss the bank's quarterly results.

BCI is seeking to deploy a new acquiring network with the U.S. company that will offer electronic payments services to small and medium-sized businesses.

"It is critical to take advantage of the existing ecosystem ... We believe we have an opportunity to continue growing by the introduction of cashless [products]," CFO José Luis Ibaibarriaga said.

The venture comes as the national payments system in Chile migrates to a multiple acquirer model. Until recently, the market was dominated by Transbank SA.

"Merchants are going to have more options in terms of payments acceptance methods, and differentiation is going to come from alternatives. There is going to be innovation," Enairo Urdaneta, the official in charge of the JV, said.

While the venture awaits regulatory approval and still needs to sort out some technical aspects, e xecutives hope to bring it to market in the first quarter of 2020.

As for BCI's ownership stake in Transbank, Urdaneta said the company has yet to make a decision. "We will obviously analyze the options on the table," he said in response to an analyst's question.

BCI previously posted a 14.23% rise in second-quarter profit, hitting 112.36 billion Chilean pesos, driven by a marked increase in the bank's net fee income due to the incorporation of the Walmart Financial Services business.

As of Aug. 5, US$1 was equivalent to 721.55 Chilean pesos.