Life at Wizeline

On the Record podcast episode #3: Payments in Latin America

On the Record podcast episode #3: Payments in Latin America

This episode features Wizeline CTO Anibal Abarca interviewing Juan Guerra, Head of Rappi Pay México. Rappi is a popular on-demand delivery company based in Colombia that raised $1B from SoftBank in 2019, which is still the largest single investment transaction in a Latin America tech company.

Juan and Anibal discuss entrepreneurship, the payment ecosystem in Mexico, and the merging of e-commerce and financial services.

In this episode, Wizeline CTO, Anibal Abarca interviews Juan Guerra, Head of Rappi Pay Mexico.

They start by discussing Juan’s background and professional experience. Juan went to college in Germany, where he studied Business Administration. He returned to Mexico in 2007 and got his first job working for Citibanamex, building the small business banking unit, which was like a startup within the bank.

He was with Citibanamex for about three years before joining a microfinance startup and then headed to the UK for his masters. Juan returned to Mexico later and joined the insurance company, Prudential. Working with Prudential was his final experience before deciding to quit and build his first startup — a crowdfunding platform helping people pay for their postgraduate professional education in the UK.


The students could come from anywhere in the world. But I wanted to innovate in that space. I felt that using microfinance was going on the right track. Because not being able to finance one’s further education was socially wrong and a problem that I could probably fix with a bit of technology. I think it’s still a huge problem, and an interesting one to solve.

It is a hard nut to crack, and it’s very intricate because of the relationship between how the private and public sector partner or not in that space. It’s a fascinating problem that no one has fully figured out in no country in the world.


Juan continued to build this startup for four years before the UK government launched the student loan scheme for masters in professional courses, which meant the students no longer needed them. He returned to Mexico to renew his visa, and while he was here, he was offered to join Citibanamex as a Chief Information Officer, which he did for just under three years. In that time, Juan helped shape the Mexican fintech regulations in certain ways. With his UK experience, he informed the regulators of certain guardrails he thought would be useful in Mexico.


Anibal and Juan dive deeper into Mexico’s payment ecosystem’s evolution over the past few years and merging e-commerce and financial services.

Juan says:

“I think the merger between e-commerce and financial services will be a category killer for retail banking. If we take a little step back and look at what’s happened in China, Southeast Asia, and Europe, I think Mexico will resemble a mix of both.

The take away from the Chinese and the Southeast Asian experience is having a digital platform that gives users plenty of reasons to use it.

In Europe, you have a lot more penetration of financial services. Less of a gap in financial inclusion than you have here, although there’s still work to be done. On the one hand, there’s the right cultural mood. People are still reeling from the banking crisis, and it feels like there’s an anti-bank sentiment.”


On the Record is available on Spotify, Anchor, and Apple Podcasts. Listen and enjoy!

Aisha Owolabi

Posted by Aisha Owolabi on October 12, 2020