In the mid-1990s, three entrepreneurs in Argentina who were turned off by jobs in big corporations decided to look at ways to link up banking with the emerging Internet.
At the time, customers using banks in Latin America, as well as other parts of the world, had to take the time to go to brick-and-mortar bank offices or an ATM (when they became available) to conduct the simplest transactions. Often, there were long lines to withdraw or deposit money, cash a check or make a transfer. People spent a lot of time doing routine financial tasks and had to conform to banks’ restrictive schedules, i.e. “bankers’ hours.”
“We were working on new ideas for banking technology, and we thought the Internet could be a big solution by offering home banking,” said German Pugliese Bassi, who with two friends, Miguel Santos and Adrian Iglesias, set up Technisys in Buenos Aires in 1995.
The trio developed a program — Cyberbank 1.0 — that allowed a financial institution to offer customers information about their products and services on the Internet and let them make a limited number of transactions online — like transferring funds from a checking to a savings account within the same bank. “Our first client was Deutsche Bank in Argentina, which at the time had its own bank in there,” said Pugliese Bassi, the Miami-based co-founder and chief marketing office of Technisys.
The small company then developed the Visa@Home platform for the giant credit card enterprise in Argentina, the first Internet service for Visa credit cards in Latin America. It later was hired by the Argentine Stock Exchange to develop a system to manage all of the exchange’s online services.
These were big steps for the firm, which continued to develop new products that took advantage of advancing technology. They hired new personnel, expanded to other parts of Latin America and gained new contracts with local, regional and international banks operating in the region.
“Innovation, like we did at the beginning, is important,” Pugliese Bassi said. “But you must have innovation after innovation to stay ahead. We’ve developed a platform designed for the digital bank of the 21st century.”
Today, Technisys has offices in seven Latin American nations, partnerships in two others and its headquarters in Miami, which opened in 2002. It has about 500 employees in the region, including 10 in Miami, and operates software laboratories in Argentina, Costa Rica, Brazil, Uruguay and Chile. It has grown rapidly in recent years, offers a range of products and expects revenues to reach $50 million by the end of this year, the company’s chief marketing officer said.
Last year, Technisys raised $13 million in new capital from a group of venture capital firms headed by Intel Capital. The company says it is using the funds to develop new markets in Latin America and expand in the U.S.
Its clients today include Banco Original in Brazil, Latin America’s first fully digital bank; Citibank in Central America; Banco del Estado de Chile; Panama’s Global Bank; Colombia’s Banco Davivienda; and Banco Itaú’s operations in Argentina.
Latin America’s approximately 500 banks offer great opportunities to Technisys. About 80 percent of banks in the region still consider branches the most important channels for customer interaction, and only about 20 percent view mobile apps among their top channels for reaching customers, according to Pugliese Bassi. At the same time, a growing number of consumers — especially young people — are demanding state-of-the art digital services they can obtain from other industries.
Pugliese Bassi, born in Argentina, received a degree in economics from the Universidad de Belgrano in Argentina and did post-graduate studies in international business in Argentina and Italy. Before starting Technisys, he worked for Techint, the multinational producer of seamless steel pipe and other steel products, as well as for Gillette and Cargill.
Technisys’ main product today is Cyberbank Omnichannel, which provides customers access to all bank services on all devices. This means that if a bank expands its digital offerings under this Technisys solution, a customer can do everything — from making transfers to loan applications to credit card payments — using a mobile device, computer, smart TV or smartwatch, in a car, on social networks or using an ATM. All contact points within the bank are reachable using this product. “Customers can connect to all bank services anywhere, anytime,” Pugliese Bassi said.
(Of course, banks have to decide how many options they will place on their ATMs.)
The company’s newest product — Cyberbank CORE — refers to the central operations of a bank, that is, all customer information, account information, accounting data, etc. This is basically business management software for the entire enterprise.
While banks have made some advances in digital technology, “the banking industry is at a digital crossroads,” Pugliese Bassi said.
“Banking is moving into a whole new dimension,” Pugliese Bassi said. “Fully digital banks will not need branches. Like the disruption that occurred in movies and music, the time has come when banking needs to change.”
The writer can be reached at email@example.com
Business: Technisys is a technology company that provides financial institutions with systems that make all banking easier for customers, providing access to bank products and services through any digital device while simultaneously increasing business for banks. Starting in Argentina 20 years ago, privately owned Technisys has become a multinational player, covering nine countries in Latin America and developing its business in the United States from Miami.
Founded: 1995 in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Founders: Entrepreneurs Miguel Santos, German Pugliese Bassi and Adrian Iglesias.
Headquarters: 701 Brickell Ave., Miami
Leadership: Co-founder and CEO, Miguel Santos; co-founder and chief marketing officer, German Pugliese Bassi and co-founder and COO, Adrian Iglesias.
Employees: About 500, including 10 in Miami.
Ownership: The founders and a group of venture capital partners led by Intel Capital and including Alta Ventures, KaSZek Ventures, Endeavor Catalyst and Holdinvest.
Revenues: Projected sales of $50 million in 2015.
Clients: Citibank in Central America, Banco del Estado de Chile, Global Bank (Panama), Banco Davivienda (Colombia), Banco Itaú in Argentina and Banco Original in Brazil, Latin America’s first digital bank and others.