Brazilian bank Itaú Unibanco is reportedly planning to introduce online-only bank accounts in Argentina to strengthen its presence in the country.

Itaú BBA CEO Eduardo Vassimon told Reuters that the initiative is part of the bank’s strategy to bolster its customer base in the country without expanding its branch network or purchasing new lenders.

Operating in Argentina for more than 20 years, Itaú Unibanco has 76 branches across the country with around 800,000 accounts.

According to World Bank, nearly half of the Argentine population do not have a bank account following a series of economic crises.

Itaú aims to cater to these people to bolster its footprint in the country, where it ranks 17th in overall assets.

“Argentina still poses some relevant macroeconomic challenges, but it offers great potential, particularly considering the country’s low banking penetration,” Vassimon was quoted as saying by Reuters.

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By GlobalData

In driving its online presence in Argentina, Itaú is expected to face the challenge of online banking ventures Uala and Wanap.

Banco Santander Río, one of the largest lenders in the country, has also announced plan to launch a digital service to reach the unbanked people.

Vassimon added that the various charges applicable on digital-only accounts and other associated details will be decided soon.

Besides Brazil and Argentina, Itaú’s also has retail banking operations in Chile, Paraguay, Uruguay and Colombia.