There are 80 million consumers in the US that are unbanked or underbanked, according to data from a 2015 FDIC report. These consumers make an estimated $500 billion in payments annually.

Without access to traditional banking products, unbanked consumers rely on cash transactions and money transfer services for their financial needs, creating myriad challenges to meeting basic needs in an increasingly digital world.

The proliferation of mobile technology, a surge in financial technology (fintech) innovation, and a rapidly growing Miami-based firm called Cuentas (OTCQB: CUEN) are about to change all of that.

Cuentas mobile app

Mobile payment revenue is expected to surpass $1 trillion by 2019.

Your favorite stores and restaurants are learning that consumers are increasingly relying on a variety of payment options beyond traditional cash and credit, and if they don’t meet this evolving demand, they risk losing business.

These days even the corner coffee shop needs to offer in-store as well as desktop and mobile ordering options to customers, while accepting physical payment in cash, credit, debit, gift cards, as well as digital payments from mobile wallets on phones and wearables to money transfers from apps.

But not all consumers have access to these new payment options.

Nearly all mobile payment platforms require their users to already have a credit and/or debit card as well as a bank account. This is in large part due to anti-money laundering (AML) and “Know Your Customer” (KYC) regulations in the US.

a person utilizing digital banking on the computer

Banks in turn require social security numbers and approved US IDs to open new accounts.

Those with limited or restricted access to banking services due to poor credit, or their international status, are getting left behind as the fintech revolution gains speed.

In 2015, Latinos in the US controlled $1.3 trillion in buying power, an amount larger than the GDP of Australia or Spain, according the Selig Center for Economic Growth, up 167% since the turn of the century.

The increase is more than double the 76% growth in non-Hispanic buying power during the same period.

Analyst projections show US Latino buying power continuing this trend, reaching $1.7 trillion by 2020.

Yet nearly one third of this community is underbanked, according to a 2014 report from the Center for American Progress.

The US Latino population has unmet needs for remittance, payment, and purchasing facilities for themselves and the millions of their extended families living throughout the Americas and the Caribbean.

Not having a bank account is a primary disadvantage, but more so, the underbanked are challenged to transfer money electronically, purchase online across all platforms, pay bills online or by mail, or benefit from loyalty programs and new payment trends like mobile banking and wallets.

The Cuentas brand, created in partnership with global branding and advertising powerhouse Crispin Porter + Bogusky (a shareholder of Cuentas), was designed to cater directly to the US Latino community, particularly its underbanked and unbanked segments.

Comparison chart of the competition

Developed to be a robust solution on par with the payments industry’s biggest players, Green Dot (NYSE: GDOT) and PayPal (NASDAQ: PYPL), the Cuentas platform provides banking services, mobile wallet, bill pay, gift cards, pre-paid credit, ATM access, telecom, and other complementary services designed to meet the needs of underbanked consumers.

Despite the size and reach of payments leaders GDOT and PYPL, neither company has successfully gained significant market share within the underbanked/unbanked Latino communities in the US.

Cuentas sets itself apart in this arena.

Through its partnership with Ohio-based Sutton Bank, founded in 1878, and IDology, an industry leader in identity verification, Cuentas has the unique ability to meet KYC/AML requirements through the acceptance of a variety of international IDs, in addition to standard US-issued IDs.

This key differentiator places Cuentas in an ideal position to service the immigrant-dominated US Latino market.

Further strengthening its position, Cuentas has built a vast network of bodegas, small grocers often found in Latino and immigrant communities.

Through joint ventures with Black011 and SDI Telecom, leaders in the prepaid international calling markets, Cuentas has gained exclusive access to prime counter space at more than 30,000 bodegas in key markets across the US, which is expected to lead to rapid user adoption within its key target market.

Once a customer obtains a Cuentas general purpose reloadable (GPR) card, which is the cornerstone of Cuentas’ offering, providing access to a comprehensive suite of banking and consumer services, they can reload their card at more than 200,000 locations across the US.

Credit Cards with Cuentas logo on it

Cuentas GPR Cards will be able to be reloaded at Vanilla Reload locations, the same POS network used by the largest operators in the reloadable card market, such as American Express, H&R Block, Jackson Hewitt, and others.

Vanilla Reload POS network locations include Walmart, 7-Eleven, Walgreens, Rite Aid, Speedway, CVS, Family Dollar, and more.

Cuentas has developed relationships with InComm, Crispin Porter + Bogusky, Black011, CIMA Group, Sutton Bank, and other important companies, creating a solid foundation for growth.

In forging these key relationships, Cuentas’ management team focused on identifying the intellectual property, transactional, and point of purchase requirements of each its core service offerings, then went out and acquired, joint ventured, or partnered with the leading companies in each area, ensuring its robust fintech offering meets nationally-recognized banking standards.

Cuentas chart show revenue made from each cardholder

Cuentas earns a nominal one-time initial account opening fee from new customers, which is one of the lowest in the industry, the bulk of its business model is built around repetitive transaction-based user fees.

The Company conservatively estimates each customer will generate an average of $17 in monthly recurring fees from activities such as bill payments, credit card and ATM use, money transfers, and more.

At just 100,000 users, or just over three users signed up from each of the 30,000+ bodegas in its POS network, Cuentas will generate an estimated $1.7 million in monthly revenue.

At three million users, less than 10% of the US Latino population, and less than 5% of the US underbanked market, the monthly revenue potential jumps to $51 million.

Cuentas chart show possible revenue growth

These eye-popping figures represent fee generation only from Cuentas mobile wallet and GPR cards.

The Company also has robust pre-paid mobile phone and international telecom services, both highly in-demand services within Cuentas’ target demographic.

Telecom services could average another $5 per month in recurring fees. This is in addition to the $17 in monthly fees generated from the Company’s mobile wallet and GPR cards.

At three million users for both Cuentas wallet and telecom services, the Company could generate $66 million in revenue per month at 3 million users.

Cuentas generated more than $60 million in revenue in the first nine months of 2018, surpassing its total revenue for the prior fiscal year.

Not only did revenue surge in 2018, the company also posted profits for the period, with net income of $0.1 million, a big improvement over the multi-million-dollar net loss in the same period of 2018.

"We have been working very hard to improve the revenue and profits for the Company," said Michael De Prado, President of Cuentas. "While we are pleased with our year-to-date results, we believe our best days are ahead and look forward to reporting our ongoing successes to you in the coming months."

Cuentas secured much needed capital access in February 2019 with the signing of a binding term sheet for $2.5 million in funding from Optima Fixed Income LLC. The first $500,000 tranche was paid at signing on February 28.

"This year-long funding agreement with Optima should be the catalyst that Cuentas needs to jump start our marketing and distribution plans," said Arik Maimon, CEO and Founder of Cuentas. "We have a great partner in Optima. Their understanding of the potential that Cuentas has and their business acumen should make for a very successful relationship. This is a very important step towards our NASDAQ uplisting strategy.”

As a relatively unknown stock on Wall Street, CUEN trades for a market cap of around $3 million today.

As word gets out about the company’s strong performance and big potential, with every indication pointing to much more impressive results ahead, the stock will begin to catch the interest of more investors, eventually sending shares to a much more realistic valuation.

When that happens, investors accumulating at current prices could see big gains.