Published and draft legislation - Colombia

Financial inclusion: electronic payment and deposit companies (SEDPEs)

Companies specialized in electronic payments and deposits

The Ministry of Finance & Public Credit has published a draft of the decree with which they wish to regulate companies specialising in electronic payment and deposits,  (SEDPEs, Sociedades Especializadas en Depósitos y Pagos Electrónicos ).

Since electronic deposit is a financial product created to foster financial inclusion of low-income brackets in Colombia, encouraging people to save small amounts and giving them access to easy-to-use transactional mechanisms, this bill aims to establish two ways to open online deposit accounts:

  1. Streamlined arrangements for individuals to open a deposit: Easy requirements to open a deposit account attract the kind of people who do not yet have formal financial products. Now they simply have to comply with the minimum requirements (name and other data from their identity document) in order to open an account online without having to carry any cash to a bricks-and-mortar branch office. To avoid this product being used for other purposes, the bill limits the maximum balances and number of movements for electronic deposits.
  2. Ordinary opening arrangements: Although these are still intended for small savers, the bill increases the maximum amounts that can be agreed on, and requires that the Know Your Customer protocols that are currently applied for current savings accounts be followed.

The government considers it important to prevent online deposit providers (SEDPEs) from deviating from the basic purpose of providing this kind of service. However, it should review some of the provisions, which may not be appropriate for this specific kind of business.

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The amounts collected should be capped, since the nature of these transactions involves moving considerable sums of money and the holders of the deposit accounts will be people whose activities involve significant movements of cash. The SEDPEs could be allowed to forward money against collection transactions, provided the limits on balances are respected; and also the monthly transactions carried out through the deposit accounts.

If such limits are not established or not maintained, a window could open up for the  SEDPEs, which had been created to service a very specific niche (low-income customers) to let their operation slide into providing services that other entities already provide, but which are subject to stricter compliance standards and prudential regulation.