How Bitso became the number one cryptocurrency exchange in Latin America



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Mexico’s unbanked population, which totals an estimated 42 million, according to S&P Global, continues to deal mainly with cash. However, during the pandemic, financial technology (Fintech) companies saw rapid growth. The Asociación Fintech México has said it sees 2022 as a consolidation year for this ecosystem, which will drive financial inclusion in the country.

To address the burgeoning volume of cryptocurrency transactions, the Bitso platform was founded in Mexico in 2014 to facilitate the exchange between physical and virtual money.

Bitso, one of Mexico’s leading fintech companies, is on a mission to expand the use of cryptocurrencies and redefine the concept of money. Since its founding in 2014, Bitso has become the largest digital cryptocurrency exchange platform in Latin America and the third most valuable Fintech in the region with roughly 2.5 million users, 10 billion (in volume) transactions traded and more than 400 employees in more than 27 countries.

To prevent fraud and protect users against fraudulent account-related charges, cryptocurrency companies need to verify that a user is who they say they are, or are trustworthy.

Mexico faced some hurdles to overcome in its journey in migrating to crypto currencies. Guaranteeing security was a priority issue—especially when it came to protecting users against fraudulent account-related charges and protecting user identities.

Crypto platforms would need to ensure that high-value transactions, account-related changes, and account access are protected and are only accessible by legitimate users.

Bitso—and all fintechs—need to ensure each interaction with a user is secure and authenticated. That’s why Bitso turned to Twilio for help and eventually chose to use Twilio’s Verify, a purpose-built solution that provides user verification in real-time to mitigate support issues.

The Twilio Verify API makes it simple to add user verification to your web application, supporting multiple channels including SMS, voice, and Whatsapp. With the help of solutions like Twilio’s Verify, Bitso has been able to build an end-to-end user experience that is more intuitive, efficient, and secure.

What was the process like?

Bitso’s early product managers were tasked with looking for service providers that would optimize the use of the platform’s existing solutions. Bitso started with Twilio Programmable Messaging SMS, which was recognized in the industry for communications. They used Programmable SMS for both OTP and marketing messaging, however they ran into challenges as they started to take off and expand globally.

As a result, the company started seeing an increase in support calls for global one-time passwords (OTP) that were not being delivered. OTPs are mission critical, meaning the user expects to receive them in real time. Unlike a marketing message that a customer may not expect to get, an OTP is requested by the end-user and so there is an expectation for the business to deliver. Some users were receiving OTPs in non-native languages, or messages about issues unrelated to Bitso, all of which resulted in a poor user experience. Faced with the challenge of improving their customer interaction system and making it reliable, Bitso switched to Twilio’s Verify single API for multi-channel verification, a purpose-built solution that provides one-time passcodes in real-time to mitigate support issues.

In Twilio they found more than just a provider, but a partner that helped them design a tailor-made product. Using Verify, helps to confirm at the point of new user registration that a user is who they say they are. This is of vital importance at these times of heightened cyber security threats.

“We found that with only one engineer, we were able to test and fully implement Verify.”

Product Manager

Thanks to its custom development, Bitso’s platform now has improved user interaction on different flows. The most important of them is perhaps the account creation flow, since it is the first interaction the user has with the application. This flow requires the user to provide basic information and then verify that they are genuinely a valid user. That is where Twilio Verify comes into play. The API sends a verification code to the user instantly so that they do not even realize that it has come from a provider other than Bitso.  

Bitso is constantly looking at ways to improve the customer experience by incorporating new technological tools that make the interaction with its users even more intuitive: “We are thinking of implementing push authentications, instead of having just a code. Users could use their cell phones to authorize transactions such as cash withdrawals or currency exchanges. That way we can simplify the process and provide a better user experience and, who knows, maybe someday we can use Whatsapp to interact with our users, which is very popular in Latin America,”  Bitso’s product manager said.

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