Fiserv lays bets on QR payments in Argentina with digital wallet acquisition

U.S. fintech giant Fiserv recently purchased Argentine wallet Yacare to ramp up its offering to clients in South America’s second-largest economy.  

Founded in 2016, Yacare is one of the first digital wallets in the domestic ecosystem. It claims to be a pioneer in QR payments in the market.

From an early start, Argentine digital lenders faced intense competition from heavyweight Mercado Pago. The fintech unit of Argentine e-commerce firm Mercado Libre exerts an impressive dominance in the local market.

“It is huge news for Argentine fintech,” Ignacio Carballo, a fintech expert in Argentina, said. “It speaks of the value of the sector.” 

Enhance the product suite

According to Juan Ignacio de la Torre, South Latin America SVP & Business Head at Fiserv, the acquisition will allow existing Argentine merchants to collect through QR codes. He noted that they could accept payments from all types of digital wallets.

In Latin America’s fast-growing digital space, Quick Response codes have quickly risen as cash contenders in Latin America’s fast-growing digital areas. They proliferate among restaurants and retail shops in major cities. In little time, they emerged as one of the region’s leading payment technologies for lower-end digital transactions. Also, they became a powerful financial inclusion tool beyond Buenos Aires city. 

In Argentina, they are ubiquitous. Its adoption has accelerated sharply in the past few years. More so as Mercado Pago aggressively deployed its network throughout the country. Interoperability allowed other providers to use the system in an effort from the central bank to promote competition.

Yacare started as a closed system that allowed businesses to accept payments using QR codes. “Since then, the interoperability of the different QRs allowed Yacare to expand and accept payments using all fintech and bank wallets,” de la Torre said. 

An increasingly competitive market

Fiserv’s acquisition means that Mercado Pago has a strong competitor in its home market. The US fintech giant reports a market cap roughly the same size as Mercado Libre. It could challenge the Latin American marketplace’s tight grip on the market in Argentina. 

Juan Ignacio headshot
 Juan Ignacio de la Torre, SVP & Business Head, Latin America South, at Fiserv.

In a 2022 report, Fiserv noted that digitization in the Argentine financial market had “an abrupt growth.” Also, the number of competitors was growing fast. “Virtual wallets and QR payments are validated as very versatile payment tools, both in the user and merchant segments,” the report read.  

Today, Yacare offers two QR products, one for small businesses and another for larger companies. “Incorporating Yacare products will make Fiserv more competitive by allowing businesses to offer another payment method to customers,” de la Torre added.  

Yacare team moves to Fiserv.

The US giant said the company expected to move forward with other products from Yacare. These include, for instance, digital onboarding.  According to Argentine media,

Jorge Zanabone, Yacare’s founder, will remain as Director within Fisera. On Linkedin, he confirmed Yacare’s team would move to the US giant.

The deal value was not publicly disclosed.  

  • David Feliba

    David is a Latin American journalist. He reports regularly on the region for global news organizations such as The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Financial Times, and Americas Quarterly.

    He has worked for S&P Global Market Intelligence as a LatAm financial reporter and has built expertise on fintech and market trends in the region.

    He lives in Buenos Aires.