Bolivia’s Banco Mercantil Santa Cruz (BMSC) has long been this Andean country’s largest private bank –and it got even bigger in 2023.
The bank took over a chunk of the assets of domestic peer Banco Fassil after the state intervened to stop that institution from imploding. It was the fourth time since 2006 that BMSC either absorbed fully or partially another bank.
According to Andrea Urquidi, BMSC’s marketing manager, the partial acquisition of Banco Fassil’s loans and deposits represented an “important milestone” for the bank. “We now have a bigger share of the market in Bolivia,” he says.
The bank’s performance was already noteworthy prior to the takeover. It has more 1 million active customers and is the biggest private bank on every level, including deposits, loans, assets and physical footprint. It operates 114 branches nationally and has a network of more than 450 ATMs. Total assets topped $6 billion at the halfway point this year.
Net profit was up a staggering 109% year-on-year in June 2023 to $31 million, while return on equity jumped by 111% and return on assets 101%.
Urquidi says the bank’s success is a combination of a “risk-focused with an appetite for continued growth.”
Despite limitations from the Bolivian government’s strict oversight, BMSC continues to expand its digital offering. It was the first bank in the system to launch a digital service, Cuentas y Créditos Online, that lets Bolivians open accounts and request loans. The platform, which was opened during the pandemic, now provides consumer loans, car loans and mortgages, as well as allowing customers to request credit cards.
Mobile and internet banking account for more than 90% of the bank’s transactions.
“It is important for us the Bolivians and access diverse financial products and services that are useful and can be done quickly and safely,” says Urquidi.