Chile has experienced incredible economic growth, even finishing last year out as the world’s best economy. They recently held an election, and we explore the potential impacts of that election on capital markets.
Gabriel Boric – a 35-year-old former social activist, and now President of one of the wealthiest countries in South America, won the election with a campaign based on promises of extreme reform.
What does this mean for the rapidly growing Chilean fintech sector? There’s a lot to unpack here, starting with the history.
Fintech Vs Banks: The State of Chilean Capital Markets
Last year, the state-owned Banco del Estado, or BancoEstado, inadvertently took to the general public the conversation regarding financial regulatory reform. They employed anti-bot technology and blocked users of the fintech startup Khipu from using their services. When Khipu took BancoEstado to court, the question of a fintech regulatory framework came to the forefront and put the ongoing Fintech Law discussion (currently in the House of Representatives) into the spotlight.
The Chilean fintech sector has seen huge growth, and the country appears to be moving firmly towards open banking – even opening an open banking exchange (OBE). This has contributed to Chile’s economic prosperity, and all seemed to be moving in the right direction.
A Sharp Left Turn as the President is Elected
Chile may be the wealthiest country in South America, but it is not without its inequities. Many saw the growth and increase in wealth as deepening inequalities, and organized demonstrations to protest what they saw as an unfair distribution of wealth. With this kind of rhetoric gaining momentum alongside Chile’s red-hot economy, they voted in a left-wing party.
Some gave a grim assessment of this situation. In a recent segment of What’s Ahead, Steve Forbes lays down a summary of why this is bad news for Chile, South America, and all of us.
Gabriel was elected on promises to raise taxes and eliminate student debt. It seemed that all of that promising regulatory reform for capital markets could be in jeopardy, though recent events suggest that all may not yet be lost.
The Future of Fintech and Capital Markets
On the 21st of January 2022, Boric presented his first cabinet, and to the surprise of many, decided on a centrist Minister of Finance. Mario Marcel the former head of the central bank, and his appointment to the role has many in the capital markets and fintech sectors breathing a collective sigh of relief.
In fact, despite his history of activism and his campaign built on reforms, the 35-year-old President Boric has appointed a centrist cabinet on the economy and finance cabinets. It seems that the recent success of the Fintech law and the Chilean economy is clear.
Upon the unveiling of his cabinet, President Boric vowed to stimulate economic growth, while restructuring the distribution of wealth. So, while markets feel some relief, players in the Chilean markets are still going to have to contend with the policies that come with very left-wing views.
Along with the announcement of his finance minister came other centrist ministers like Marcela Hernando, the new Minister of Mining. These announcements signal that Boric is likely to push for gradual reforms, rather than the abrupt halting that so many had feared. With the success of open banking and financial regulatory reform in Brazil and the progress made within his own country, there is still hope for capital market growth. Only time and the result of the new Constitution being written will tell.