As the only super app and digital-only bank for the Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Region, OMNi ventures towards a disruptive horizon.
Mission to conquer 1 digitally untapped region
In Costa Rica, OMNi became a phenomenon by launching the only micro-mobility service available in the region with its distinguished electric bike-sharing fleet in October 2019.
This year, OMNi has branched out by offering a digital-only banking experience (neobank) with Mastercard debit cards all in a single mobile application. While the COVID-19 pandemic rages on throughout the world, OMNi has been able to sustain dynamic growth and persevere through diversification, while preparing for the only taxi-hailing service in its region. This pivot enabled the startup to secure $120 million from its banking partner for personalized credit, while netting over half a million downloads within the first month of its neobank launch in June.
Where tech and Tropics collide: Costa Rica
In order to align itself with the rising regional trend of smartphone usage and internet connectivity, OMNi was established in Costa Rica for Central American and Caribbean operations. It leveraged a global mobility trend to introduce the novel bike-sharing service as a means to secure a viral demographic segment in the country. Fulfilling one holistic sustainable goal for Costa Rica, the company also sought an opportunity to utilize the national 100% renewable power grid by deploying its e-bikes and EVs awarded to OMNi affiliated taxis.
With over 90 million people across Central American and Caribbean Island nations, the startup highlights how much venture capital and private equity funds often overlook the CAC for digitally inclusive initiatives. Ushering an overdue modernization for the region, OMNi is now betting on the regional digital readiness to develop and consolidate the regional digital infrastructure via its Super App.
OMNi’s team believes that nation’s digital connectivity often dictates the thresholds for its microeconomic efficiencies, the digital infrastructure established to facilitate the vast reach of a Super App’s ecosystem will foster an environment for interoperable systems. OMNi is now unleashing the digital elements to ensure a paperless, contactless and digital economy for the CAC block.
In addition to an interest in smart cities and infrastructure of the future as it envisions CAC cities of the coming decades, OMNi is on a mission to pave the way for the 4th Industrial Revolution to transform the CAC.
Capitalizing on trends such as accelerating smartphone and internet penetration, it is geared on utilizing a robust mix of digital media and service channels to disrupt the fragmented industries and consolidating under one platform.
Although other tech startups have garnered interest in the region over the last few years, they are yet sparse. Inspired by Asian SuperApp playbooks, the startup can better navigate the local needs and culture to deploy around current pain points in consumer experience across these unsaturated markets. OMNi notes that the deployment of the micro mobility fleet in Costa Rica was its twist on market verification for the degree of digital friendliness, while acting as its “Trojan Horse” in acquiring the digital savvy user base.
“In these emerging markets, where public administration cannot adequately promote digital inclusion, we believe a tech-leveraging company must rise to the occasion and bridge such digital polarization,” OMNi declares. “This is our founding mission to secure progressive economic trajectories throughout CAC.”
Since securing its 9-digit credit pool for personalized loans, OMNi rises to the challenge of distributing over 1 million debit cards issued by MasterCard in Costa Rica.
OMNi enables the user to open an RTGS digital wallet with a debit card and soon will provide personalized credit line of up to $2,000 within 1-hour approval time. To address the impact of COVID-19 on many consumers and SMEs at unprecedented levels, this global startup is certain that these consumers will utilize its credit pool to generate economic stimulus and relief through digital means. The startup knows that the Neobanking model will minimize the infection risk for commuters.
“Behind the spearhead of a SuperApp, we are promoting digital culture to bring out digitally-driven efficiencies for modernization,” OMNi highlights. “We are considering various externalities that analog processes have, especially on our user opportunity cost that spills over to their socioeconomic context. We hope that in the next few years, our long term strategy of maximizing time utility will have more sustainable impact for the economies ahead.”
Transforming from Analog to Digital
Focusing on converting cash-dependent processes into a digital model, OMNi is integrating QR code transactions through its Neobank division along with further vertical development for its affiliated merchants.
While local public transportation in Costa Rica and across the region still relies on cash fares, OMNi believes that QR-encoded digital transactions will optimize microeconomic cycles and alleviate traffic conditions when it soon integrates with mass transit. QR code payments also establishes the foundation of the digital economy to come, with 0 fees for OMNi affiliated merchants — this disruptive initiative abides to the global prospect in payments for the coming years.
To disrupt the local banking scene, OMNi partnered up with Central America’s largest cooperative bank, Coopenae, to facilitate its neobanking offerings. This strategic partnership enables OMNi to scale and deploy financial services in compliance with regulatory requirements for users.
“We are creating a virtuous economic loop within our platform to capture real-time and actionable insights,” OMNi explains. “This will ensure that we are operating with full compliance while being able to benefit from different mixes of financial offerings through OMNi.”
Growing through Covid-19
OMNi, now with just shy over 300 local developers in Costa Rica, has developed its SuperApp core solely with Costa Rican talent while hiring over 300 staff within the year.
In tandem with launching digital entertainment content to net over 10 million views within the month, the startup reacted promptly and pivoted its marketing activities to accommodate a digital lifestyle to stay competitively relevant.
Connecting APAC and CAC
In today’s digital age where technologies continue to converge, countless observable societal paradigms are being redefined. To address these disruptive opportunities across a technologically underserved region with necessary innovation, OMNi is seeking to raise $250 million for its Series A to consolidate its SuperApp business around the CAC bloc.
Prior to its development in Central America, OMNi was founded in Singapore, where Mr. Lim How Teck, Chairman of Heliconia Capital Management, Temasek’s investment subsidiary, came on board as Investment Advisor to execute OMNi’s ambition in the CAC region. He did so along with Erik Cheong, who co-founded Park N Parcel, and made it on the Forbes 30 Under 30 Asia in 2019, as CEO of OMNi APAC. This global team is essential in bridging the gap between emerging technologies and investment trends to one untapped region.
As its name suggests, OMNi is to continue its fearless development to impact all segments and industries ripe for digital disruption – through COVID-19 and pioneering as the first mover in its markets.