With only 40 ATMs per 100,000 people, Bolivia could indeed benefit from the Uber-inspired cash-carrying cab, Blink. Compared with the rest of the world, the ratio is lower than average (see World Bank figure 1).
The idea for ATMs moviles has been well-received, and was even awarded a fundraising contract and a global innovation award from the Latin American festival, El Ojo de Iberoamérica.
How does Blink Work?
A user enters the amount they want to withdraw and agree for it to be taken out of their registered bank account in addition to a service fee. A nearby taxi driver accepts the request, visits an ATM and withdraws the correct amount for the user and delivers it to their location. Once the delivery is completed, the driver receives a code allowing them to withdraw their due amount plus a commission from an ATM.
How will Blink impact ATM numbers?
The number of ATMs in Bolivia has been growing for over a decade. However, the rate of growth slowed down since 2016 (see World Bank figure 1). According to Bolivians interviewed by Blink, having a nearby ATM would encourage them to open up a bank account. It looks like Blink is set to boost cash access, cash use, bank account ownership and mobile banking all with one initiative.
For a country with a population of 11 million people, 70,000 taxi drivers and a lack of ATMs, the initiative is expected to dramatically boost cash access nationally. If the project succeeds, data from the startup's user usage could possibly help pinpoint where new ATMs could be most effectively placed according to demand.
Ogilvy Bolivia CEO and chief creative officer Henry Medina said the project started as way for client BCP Bank to expand its ATM network in the country, but he later decided to take it independent in order to capitalize on the earnings potential. Medina first conceived of the idea last summer and began development on a prototype that December. The final release is set for October 2019, at which point Medina wants to enter it into next year’s Cannes Lions Innovation contest.
While World Bank data shows that the number of ATMs in Bolivia has ticked slightly upwards since 2008, growth has also begun to slow or even decrease in more recent years, and Medina said the ATMs that do exist remain overall less accessible to poorer Bolivians. The hope is for Blink’s system to expand the number of ATMs in the country nearly twenty-fold.