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Argentine fintech Ualá raises US$150 million in Series C led by Tencent and SoftBank

Don't worry, we speak : Español (Spanish), too!

Contxto – Proceeding its recent mobile app launch, earlier today the Argentine fintech Ualá announced that it has raised US$150 million in a press release. The Series C round was led by Asian financial powerhouses, Tencent and SoftBank. Executives from both companies will now join Ualá‘s board. 

Supplemental contributions also came from Endeavor Catalyst, Goldman Sachs Investment Partners (GSIP), Soros Fund Management LLC, Monashees, Ribbit Capital, and Jefferies LLC.

Portions of the new financing will go towards organic growth. This will certainly entail issuing more banking cards linked to the app. As a result, these actions will also involve developing more product offerings for purchases, savings, as well as financing.

All the while, scaling will also be on the agenda. Some of the new capital will reportedly go towards tripling its size. This will inevitably create 400 additional positions over the next year. 

Since beginning operations in October 2017, Ualá has seduced international investors. Past investments include a US$10 million Series A led by Soros Fund Management LLC. Following this in September 2018, it closed a Series B worth US$34 million with GSIP leading the pack.

Tencent reportedly made its first investment in Ualá back in April of this year. 

“We are excited to witness the rapid growth of Ualá since our first investment earlier this year,” said James Mitchell, Tencent’s Chief Strategy Officer. Specifically, his company provides internet services in China, not to mention owns WeChat, China’s largest social and communication platform.

“Through this new investment, we strengthen our support in the development of this robust financial services platform, promoting financial inclusion and technological innovation.”

Financial services with Ualá

Argentina is no stranger to financial hurdles, ranging from deflation, currency depreciation… the list, unfortunately, goes on. Based on figures from the World Bank, only 41 percent of Argentines own a debit card. Reaching even lower numbers; only 7 percent have applied for loans at traditional financial institutions.

Easier management of personal finances is what Ualá wants to provide to users, specifically through its pre-paid MasterCard linked to the app. Financial transactions ranging from transfers, investments, loans, payments, pre-paid phone charges, among other features, are all available.

According to Pierpaolo Barbieri, Ualá‘s founder and CEO, disruption is the name of the game for this fintech.

“Financial services are based on three pillars: payments, credits, and investments,” he said in a recent press release. “Our goal is to disrupt access to these services, giving more people the ability to create a credit history in an inclusive and transparent manner. This round will allow us to boost our growth.”

Not slowing down anytime soon, Ualá has issued over US$1.3 million to customers since its launch two years ago. With 185 current employees in Argentina, today, it seems that 4 percent of the country’s population reportedly use its financial services. Of this number, 13 percent are between 18 and 25 years old.

Interestingly enough, 7 percent of the cards also belong to foreigners residing in the country.

-JA 

Jacob Atkins
Jacob Atkins is a journalist specializing in Latin America. He studied journalism and international relations at American University in Washington, D.C. and has previously reported from Chile, Ecuador, Haiti and Mexico. When he isn't writing he's most likely hiking or drawing.

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