Nequi is “El hijo rebelde de Bancolombia,” “Bancolombia’s rebel child,” this Neobank may change finances in Colombia
Nequi is a product from Bancolombia which was developed in the Vice-presidency of Innovation for Bancolombia and has become the “the rebel child” for Bancolombia. It is a product from Bancolombia that is 100% digital, and there are no commissions for transferring money between accounts. You do not have to be a Bancolombia customer to use Nequi. Nequi is a digital pocket where you can transfer money from your savings account from other Colombian banks to save money and set savings goals. And you can also pay others with Nequi. All you need to have to open an account is a Colombian identity document (Tarjeta de Identidad, Cédula de Ciudadanía or a Cédula de Extranjería) cell number with a Colombian operator, a Smartphone with internet capability and the Nequi app on your phone to begin.
To register for Nequi, you download the Nequi app for your smartphone, open the app on your phone, you put in your name, put in your phone number, then you await a code to verify your phone number. After you receive the code, you scan your identity documents, front and back, then you undergo facial and voice recognition. After that, you can begin to manage your money and have a savings account with no cuota de manejo–account management fee and no commissions. Anyone who is 13 years of age or older is eligible to open a Nequi account.
You can recharge your Nequi account and create savings goals and pockets for you to budget money for a certain amount for any given goal. You can also pay people using Nequi, and you will not pay a commission to pay people. If someone pays you using Nequi, you can go to a Bancolombia ATM and take that out in cash. You can also pay for services using Nequi.
The idea behind Nequi is to help people having savings accounts and savings goals in our modern age, all digitally. Instead of stashing money under your mattress they are incentivizing people to save money using Nequi and making it possible to have a savings account with no signatures, paperwork, fees or other complications. However, since this is a simplified savings account, there is a limit as to how much you cannot transfer more than two salaries, approximately $1.656.232 COP and your maximum balance cannot be more than eight minimum salaries, approximately $6.624.928 COP (with the current minimum salary at $828.116 COP for 2019). During 2019, Nequi made it possible for people who have Nequi accounts to get a debit card linked to their Nequi account. I believe if you pay $3.500 COP you will be able to get a physical debit card that is connected to your Nequi account, so you could use debit card connected to your Nequi account to make purchases. Nequi now also offers a digital debit card, but you will need to maintain a minimum balance of $15.000 COP to cover any charges associated with using the card. Nequi will eventually loan very small amounts of money with an extremely low-interest rate, in order to help democratize banking and help people access credit without going through a lot of steps. Doing this Nequi hopes to become like the Netflix or Spotify for online banking in Colombia.
Nequi and PayPal Colombia
At the end of September 2018, PayPal, the global leader in online payments and Nequi Colombia, which is part of Grupo Bancolombia, announced that they are joining forces. From what it appears, after 25 September 2018, any business or person which sells a product or service outside of Colombia will be able to withdraw their payments here in Colombia using any of Bancolombia’s 4,000+ ATMs located throughout Colombia at no cost.
Users only will need to have a Nequi account in order to link their Nequi and PayPal Colombia accounts. After this Nequi users will be able to transfer money from their PayPal Colombia accounts to their Nequi accounts, usually within a few minutes without having to fill out or file any paperwork. However, it is important to note that this service has a low cost per operation, as well as being fast and payments can be made through mobile phones. Each time a user transfers money from PayPal to Nequi, they must pay a 5% commission, (up to a maximum of $10 USD) and the money will arrive the same day in Colombia. Users can bring up to $500 USD per month to Colombia, on the same day, without having to any additional paperwork.
This strategic partnership between Nequi and PayPal is extremely valuable for those who receive remittances or who work remotely with foreign companies, since withdrawing money earned abroad in Colombia is frequently complicated. In this sense, the directors of Nequi hope to change people’s lives. It is no surprise that Bancolombia is the group behind Nequi since it was Colombia’s first financial service to use voice and facial recognition, to allow people to open traditional savings accounts from their cell phones and to allow silver shipments through Facebook Messenger/Chat.
How to use the Nequi App
If you want to withdraw money stored in Nequi from an ATM in cash, you will need to log into your Nequi App. First, you will log into your Nequi account, inputting the cell phone number linked to your Nequi account and then when prompted, you will input your four (4) digit Nequi pin number. When you reach the home screen in the Nequi app, you will click on the dollar ($) sign in the bottom right hand corner. When you click this button you will be presented with five (5) options: Recarga (Recharge/Reload) which allows you to add money to your Nequi account using a Colombian bank account enabled with PSE, Envía (Send) which allows you to send money to other Nequi users, Pide (Ask) which allows you to ask other Nequi users to send you money, Paga (Pay) which allows you to make payments to authorized merchants using funds from your Nequi balance, and Saca (Take Out/Withdraw), which allows you to withdraw money from your Nequi account at certain Bancolombia ATMs.
When you click the Saca option, Nequi will show you how much money you currently have available. When you will click that balance, and you will have the option to go to a Cajero (ATM), a Bancolombia ATM which works with Nequi or a Punto Nequi, a place that also allows to withdraw funds from Nequi in cash. If you click the Cajero option, you will receive a code via text message that is good for 30 minutes. You then will go to an ATM which works with Nequi, click on the option (Retiros Nequi), and when prompted about Nequi code, you will input the code you received via text message and withdraw your money in cash.
You can use this link to add funds to your Nequi account from any Colombian bank account connected to PSE, so you do not need to have a Bancolombia account in order to add money to your Nequi account. Here is a link to an article in Spanish which explains how you can recharge your Nequi account with cash. If you have cash, you can go to any authorized Nequi point (you can locate the nearest merchant which will allow you to do recargas for Nequi here, explain that you want to do a recarga for your Nequi account, provide them the cell number linked to your Nequi account and the cash you want to add to your account. The cash you are trying to add to your account should be in your account instantaneously.
More information and links
Nequi Centro de Ayuda (Articles are in Spanish)
Here is an article which further discusses Nequi from February 2018 published in La República, “Nequi es el hijo rebelde de Bancolombia y el Netflix de todo el sistema financiero”.
BN Americas 25 September 2018, “Nequi and PayPal join forces in Colombia”.
I will add that in October 2018, I tried to sign up for Nequi and the app would not recognize my cédula despite spending a whole afternoon trying to get it to work and talking to Nequi support. I tried a couple of other times and it did not work, then in the middle of February 2019, by this point I had deleted the app but I figured I should try once more. And y’all, Nequi worked like a charm, within five minutes I had signed up for my account and the app worked like a charm. I talked to a Brazilian friend of mine, who has an Android phone and he had the same problem as I did during 2018. I still believe Nequi as a concept is a great idea, in execution, I am not sure how well it actually works, since I have heard that during February 2019, before I successfully signed up for Nequi that were some issues with Nequi’s system not working for the Bancolombia corresponsales. And I had tried to talk to Bancolombia about my concerns, being Bancolombia, customer service or responsiveness is not a strength of theirs.
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