Startup Mx: Aviva

Aviva provides financial services designed with artificial intelligence through a phygital approach (blending digital and physical experiences)
Startup Mx: Aviva

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Despite the growing presence of fintech companies in Mexico, a survey conducted in 2023 uncovered a significant gap: 

Only 33% of adults in the country have access to formal credit, leaving an estimated 61 million Mexicans without this essential financial service.

Enter Aviva.

Aviva is looking to change things by using new technology to bridge the gap between online and traditional banking. Aviva’s goal is to finally bring banking services to millions of people in Mexico's medium-sized cities who haven't had access before.

Aviva was founded to address a long-standing challenge that regulators, banks, and startups have yet to solve. Our mission goes beyond offering premium financial products, we are driven to provide life-changing tools that are easy to use and powered by artificial intelligence. At Aviva, we are committed to helping those who have been overlooked realize their full potential and create a better future for themselves and their families. - (Fil Castro Co-Founder Aviva)

Aviva’s inception story

The inspiration to build Aviva stemmed from the shared experiences of David and Fil, co-founders of Aviva, who had extensive backgrounds in both traditional banking and fintechs. Despite many significant VC investments, they noticed that access to formal credit had remained stagnant, particularly in smaller towns removed from major metropolitan areas. 

David and Fil realized that a different approach was needed to address the challenges faced by the underbanked population.

This realization led them to dive deeper into the factors keeping millions underbanked and explore leveraging computer vision and AI as tools to transform financial access.

How does Aviva work?

Aviva's “brick and mortar” kiosks offer a unique blend of physical presence and digital innovation. There are 24 kiosks in Mexico, located in towns like Chalco de Díaz, Texcoco, and Izúcar de Matamo, a couple of hours from Mexico City.

Aviva’s kiosks are nothing like a bank. Staffed by one friendly manager, users can finally access financial services thanks to proprietary onboarding and underwriting technology based on AI and computer vision technology. 

This phygital approach (blending both digital and physical experiences) allows Aviva to build trust, gather alternative data points, and help clients begin their digital journey. 

Aviva’s Process 

During a seven-minute video call taken from an Aviva kiosk, Aviva runs a holistic credit analysis using alternative data and real-time language processing, to make a credit decision at the end of the call. Once the client accepts their loan contract, Aviva can deposit a loan ranging from US $150 to US $1,000. 

Although Aviva introduces all clients to modern banking technology, by familiarizing them with payment links many of Aviva’s clients are informal workers and micro entrepreneurs who still prefer to pay their loans in cash at local convenience stores. 

In turn, to continue to build trust with their clients, Aviva’s platform gives their clients peace-of-mind through a simple app for users to confirm their payments were correctly associated.

Aviva's Solution to a Critical Problem

Aviva addresses several key problems that prevent millions from accessing the formal financial system in Mexico:

  1. Lack of Trust in Financial Institutions: With rising digital fraud, trust in digital-only banks remains low.
  2. Geographical Challenges: Small towns and cities away from major metropolitan areas have limited access to quality financial services.
  3. Lack of Data Points: Many unbanked individuals work in the informal sector, receiving cash payments and lacking traditional documentation for creditworthiness.
  4. Low Digital Readiness: Digital solutions often fail because the underbanked require assistance navigating digital processes.
Aviva Team

Future Plans and Growth Strategy

Aviva is dedicated to unlocking financial services for millions of underbanked individuals in medium-sized cities across Mexico through its innovative phygital platform.

Since launching personal loans in September 2022, Aviva has processed over 50,000 credit applications, expanded its product offering to include B2B loans for micro-businesses, and begun to seek partnerships with other players who address the same market. 

Leveraging AI and natural language processing, Aviva matches customers’ spoken words to real-time credit applications, enabling quick qualification for nano-business or home improvement loans of up to US $1,000. Their asset-light model and heavy use of technology allow Aviva to charge lower interest rates than traditional banks, with rates around 80% compared to those of traditional lenders who charge upwards of 150% annually. 

Looking ahead, Aviva plans to continue to expand its physical network to cities with populations under 500,000, bringing financial services to more underserved areas. 

On the product side, Aviva is exploring new sources of alternative data from its video calls that can be integrated into its credit analysis. 

Founders

Filiberto Castro David Hernández Israel García Amran Frey 

Funding

2022 $2.2M (Pre-Seed) led by Wollef, joined by Newtopia, 500 Startups, Seedstars International Ventures, Magna Capital VC, and Xtraordinary VP, as well as several angel investors. 

Traction  

Aviva is rapidly expanding and is growing its user base by 35% QoQ. 

  • Over 50,000 video calls
  • Aviva’s retention rate is 90% within five months of the first loan sale
  • Aviva plans to expand to over 50 cities by EOY 2024, doubling its current footprint

Early Misconceptions and Adapting to Challenges

One specific early challenge for Aviva was overestimating their users’ digital readiness. 

The company quickly realized that a digital-only approach was not viable, as 60% of its clients don't have a bank account.

To underscore the point, despite conducting 50,000 video onboardings, Aviva has yet to identify a client who banks with a neobank.

This crucial insight prompted Aviva to shift their strategy, moving away from a purely digital approach. Instead, they developed a product that emphasizes a conversational and hybrid experience, providing clients with the support they need throughout their digital journey.

Market Opportunity

Latin America is home to a significant unbanked population, with millions lacking access to formal financial services. While the percentage of Latin Americans with bank accounts has seen a significant rise — from 55% in 2017 to 74% in 2021 — driven in part by the COVID-19 pandemic, there were still 122 million people in the region (approximately 26% of the population) without bank accounts as of 2021, according to World Bank data. 

The largest unbanked population resides in Mexico. 

Mexico, in particular, exemplifies the challenges and opportunities within the Latin American market. Despite being one of the largest economies in the region, financial inclusion remains a critical issue as seen in a recent National Survey of Financial Inclusion conducted by Mexico's National Institute of Statistics and Geography (INEGI) found that as of May 2022, just under 50% of adults ages 18-70 had a bank account. 

Aviva's attacking a driving problem that prevents people in Mexico from accessing quality financial services: physical access. By combining digital and traditional banking, Aviva is not just making credit available to millions, but also helping to create a future where more people in the region have access to banking.

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