Bank of the Year 2018 -- Uruguay: Santander Uruguay

Bank of the Year 2018 -- Uruguay: Santander Uruguay

Private-sector banks in Uruguay have long faced tough competition in a market dominated by the government-backed lender Banco de la República Oriental del Uruguay.

But the local division of the Spanish bank Santander, which ranks second in loans and deposits in Uruguay, increased profits by 19% in 2017 and continued its push into peso-denominated financing for small businesses, an area long dominated by the state-owned banks.

According to Moody’s, dollar-denominated loans made up almost 72% of Santander Uruguay’s loan book at the end of March 2018, but they contributed only 28% of total loan revenues. Peso-denominated loans, which carry rates that are five times higher than dollar loans, supplied 64% of loan revenues.

To deepen ties with small businesses in Uruguay, the bank has launched the Santander Advance program, offering credit as well as online classes and business seminars at local universities, and rolled out a Santander PyME project to approve small business loans in as little as 24 hours. LF