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CVU for unbanked users in Argentina: What is it and how it works


Argentina becomes the first country in LATAM to offer interoperability between bank and virtual accounts

With the goal of formalizing the banking system as much as possible, the Central Bank of Argentina (the “BCRA”, after its Spanish acronym) has launched the first Uniform Virtual Key. The CVU allows users to make immediate money transfers between bank and virtual accounts, at no cost.

Virtual accounts are those that belong to fintech services such as virtual wallets, as well as those that are not adhered to a PSP (Payment Service Providers): PIM, Rapipago, MercadoPago, Ualá and others.

How does the CVU differ from the traditional CBU

The traditional CBU is a 22-digits long number that allows a bank account owner to receive deposits, make money transfers between accounts and pay for services through automatic debit.

While each bank tracks bank accounts using internal numbers, the CBU does it in a unified way for the entire Argentinian banking system, identifying any bank account when receiving and sending money.

The CBU and CVU are compatible.The CBU will still exist for banks while the CVU comes into play for the unbanked population virtual accounts.

The CVU regulation has been in place for a while now. But, for the first time a bank entity is offering this service. Banco Itaú will be the first to offer the administration service of CVU to PSP. Users don’t need to have a bank account to receive or make payments but they need the PSP to be allied with Banco Itaú.

How does the CVU work?

A user who owns a virtual account or a prepaid card can now receive payments from bank accounts by providing a CVU alias, just as it is with the CBU nowadays.

In the same way, a user who owns a traditional CBU will be able to make money transfers to an unbanked virtual account holder by inputting its CVU. The interaction between the virtual and banking sector helps to increase the banking system formalization across the population. It also facilitates the market entry for merchants….

What benefits does the CVU bring?

Fintech growth has significantly increased during the last years. This growth has been the result of a number of regulatory changes which facilitated the creation of payment services, as well as the increment in the transition of traditional banking to mobile channels. 

All in all, CVU in Argentina shows the intention by this country to give a step forward towards the digital economy. More precisely, towards the interaction between the digital and analogic economies. Merchants with access to local expertise and the ability to keep up with changes, are the ones that will probably be in the best position to catch the market opportunities that big changes normally bring.