Puerto Rico is unique. It does not immediately come to mind as a potential global financial center. But Puerto Rico-based Zenus Bank is making a splash, and as founder Mushegh Tovmasyan tells RBI, its track record of its first three years demonstrates how perfectly positioned it is to drive financial inclusion for consumers in Latin America.
Puerto Rico’s Caribbean location means it is perfectly positioned to potentially rival international financial centers such as Singapore, Switzerland and Hong Kong. At first glance, that may seem like little more than an exaggerated claim by the local in-house investment agency, but there’s an argument here.
As a Commonwealth country under US jurisdiction, Puerto Rico operates in US dollars (USD). This means that Puerto Rico can offer USD to the rest of the world, so that people can take advantage of the stability of the currency.
Strategically speaking, the island is in the perfect location, being a bridge between the US and Latin America. Then there is the matter of language. The vast majority of the island is bilingual in English and Spanish, the most widely spoken language and the fourth most widely spoken language, respectively. This means that Puerto Rico can open the doors for people in LatAm to access a stable currency like the USD.
In 2019, Mushegh Tovmasyan founded Zenus Bank, the first Puerto Rican bank with an international license. Headquartered in Puerto Rico and in partnership with Microsoft and Visa, it exports and provides a USD-based digital bank available to citizens in more than 150 countries.
Since then, it has grown into a global digital bank, with operations in four countries. It has customers using its apps in more than 90 countries, leveraging the benefits of their US bank accounts.
And so, Zenus Bank makes it easy and secure for customers to access, send, receive and store money in the US from anywhere in the world. Zenus’ argument gets better: it gives customers in Latin American countries access to a US bank account without the need for US residency, providing access to the US dollar in developing countries. Then there are the key factors like access to the US market and credit rating.
Empowering people through borderless banking
The end result is the promotion of financial inclusion in the developing world. Zenus also operates a fractional reserve bank which is becoming increasingly important in the current global recession. It means that clients in LatAm have a safe alternative to keep their money in local currencies that can fluctuate and be subject to volatile currency changes depending on political, economic and other external events.
For Tovmasyan, the vision is to create a world where physical borders do not limit the financial services that consumers have access to. And his mission is to continue the growth of a financial institution that gives people and businesses around the world access to the security, freedom and convenience of American banking.
Tovmasyan is a fintech entrepreneur and a veteran of the online trading industry. His CV has C-level management experience in regulated financial services companies in the US, UK, United Arab Emirates, Germany, Switzerland, Cyprus, Armenia, Japan and New Zealand.
He also has a track record of creating strategic alliances across industries and developing new business opportunities. In addition, he has been involved in several traditional M&A transactions on both sides of the table.
And he’s the principal behind seed and venture capital firm Forexify, which recently spun off two successful ventures: Divisa Capital and Equiti Group to focus full-time on Zenus Bank.
Zenus Bank 2022 Highlights
Tovmasyan tells RBI that 2022 marked Zenus’ most successful year to date. Despite challenging economic conditions and geopolitical turmoil, Zenus remains committed to promoting banking across borders. Zenus clients have already opened accounts in some 96 countries.
“We are focused on our mission to build a cutting-edge digital banking infrastructure for individuals and businesses and establish ourselves as the sponsoring bank for global brands and fintechs.”
Zenus announced partnerships with Microsoft, HSO, and Finxact in 2022. Tovmasyan says this demonstrates his drive to provide the best possible experience for customers.
By partnering with Finxact, Zenus benefits from a high-performance, highly scalable, real-time position maintenance model to meet its goals of delivering a secure, transparent and scalable international bank. The association is vital to bringing financial inclusion to millions of individuals, businesses and organizations operating in developing countries, as well as employees working for globally oriented companies.
In addition, the agreement lays the foundation for a world-class digital infrastructure, building on existing partnerships with infrastructure provider Microsoft.
“Working with such renowned brands will support our ambitious growth plans to become a global industry leader.”
In addition to the launch of a new website, recent product highlights included the launch of virtual Visa debit cards. In addition, Zenus continues to expand its agent banking network as part of its goal to be a truly global digital bank.
Now Zenus is working to launch a B2B offering to help SMEs in developing countries pay their staff instantly without the delays or fees associated with local banks and the difficulties that can arise when trying to grow a business. business, take care of one’s money or make a secure payment. channels with export partners. Zenus Bank solves this by offering institutional exchange rates and unlimited ACH payments and wire transfers.
“Most of the population faces currency challenges, but they are very digitally friendly. Our first target audience is Latin America and especially South America, but we are looking to quickly expand beyond that,” concludes Tovmasyan.
Video Interview: Mushegh Tovmasyan, founder of Zenus Bank, talks to RBI editor Douglas Blakey