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Buenos Aires, Argentina, November 25, 2019 – Ualá, the Argentina-based fintech, announced today that it has completed a Series C financing round totaling us$150 million. The round was led by Tencent, a leading provider of Internet value added services in China and owner of WeChat, the largest communication and social platform in China, and SoftBank Innovation Fund, the largest-ever technology fund focused exclusively in Latin America. Representatives of both Tencent and SoftBank will join Ualá’s Board of Directors.
Endeavor Catalyst, a co-investment vehicle designed to support Endeavor entrepreneurs, and existing Ualá investors – affiliates of Goldman Sachs Investment Partners (GSIP), Soros Fund Management LLC, Monashees, Ribbit Capital, and Jefferies LLC – also participated in the round. Hughes Hubbard & Reed LLP served as legal counsel to Ualá in its Series C financing round, and in all previous fundraisings.
Endeavor Entrepreneur Pierpaolo Barbier, co-founder and CEO of Ualá | Photo courtesy of Ualá
The financing will support the continued growth of Ualá, which issued more than 1.3M cards since inception two years ago and has most recently been focused on expanding its product offering. In early 2019, it launched a lending platform to originate personal loans and has just premiered mutual fund investments. The company will use the capital to further scale its business and aims to triple in size in the next year, hiring over 400 people between technology and operations.
Ualá has captured attention from international investors since before its launch to the public in October 2017. After a us$10M Series A round led by an affiliate of Soros Fund Management LLC, along with Jefferies LLC, Point72 Ventures, entrepreneur Kevin Ryan, and others, Ualá raised us$34M in 2018 in a Series B round led by an affiliate of Goldman Sachs Investment Partners (GSIP), with Ribbit Capital and Monashees. Tencent invested an undisclosed amount in April 2019.
According to the World Bank, only 41% of Argentines have a debit card and only 7% have requested a loan or saved at a traditional financial institution. Ualá aims to improve financial inclusion by helping users better manage their finances hassle-free. The personal finance management app is linked to a prepaid, global Mastercard and allows users to transfer money, invest in mutual funds, request loans, pay bills and top-up prepaid services.
James Mitchell, Tencent’s Chief Strategy Officer, said “We are glad to witness Ualá’ s rapid growth since we first invested in the company earlier this year. Through this stepped-up investment, we will strengthen our support for Ualá in its development into a full-fledged financial services platform, promoting the financial inclusion and technology innovation.”
“Uala’s growth has been truly remarkable. What the team is building has revolutionized financial services in Argentina. We believe the strategy and exceptional execution demonstrate great potential.” said Shu Nyatta, Managing Partner, SoftBank Innovation Fund.
“Ualá’s mobile-first finance technology brings access, transparency and convenience to the consumer,” said Christopher Dawe, Managing Director at Goldman Sachs. “This investment is consistent with our philosophy of backing mission-driven teams who are promoting financial inclusion.”
“Financial services are based on three basic pillars: payment, credit, and investments. Our objective is to disrupt access to those services, giving even more people the opportunity to build a credit history, inclusively and transparently. This round endorses our strategy and will allow us to boost our growth,” said Pierpaolo Barbieri, founder and CEO of Ualá.
Ualá is a fintech that offers a personal finance mobile application tied to a global prepaid Mastercard. Founded by Pierpaolo Barbieri, it launched to the public in October 2017, with the goal of democratizing access to financial services.
Users load funds through cash networks Rapipago and Pago Fácil, as well as any bank or virtual account in the country, fully compliant with Argentina’s CVU interoperability standard. In addition, Ualá offers a wide variety of financial services such as money transfers, over 4,000 possible bill payment options, as well as mobile phone and transportation card (SUBE) top-ups. The app also allows users to track their expenses through a personal financial management tool (PFM), apply for loans, and invest in mutual funds with neither minimum investment nor lock-up period.
Ualá is available in Argentina for Android and iOS. Any person older than 13 that has an Argentine ID (DNI) can open an account for free in under five minutes.
Tencent uses technology to enrich the lives of Internet users. Our communications and social platforms, Weixin/WeChat and QQ, connect users with each other and with digital content and services, both online and offline, making their lives more convenient. Our targeted advertising platform helps advertisers reach out to hundreds of millions of consumers in China. Our FinTech and business services support our partners’ business growth and assist their digital upgrade.
Tencent invests heavily in talent and technological innovation, actively promoting the development of the Internet industry. Tencent was founded in Shenzhen, China, in 1998. Shares of Tencent (00700.HK) was listed on the Main Board of the Stock Exchange of Hong Kong in 2004.
Endeavor Catalyst is the innovative co-investment fund of Endeavor, set up to invest exclusively in Endeavor Entrepreneur-led companies and to sustain Endeavor’s long-term operations in a mission-aligned way. Since launching in January 2012, Endeavor Catalyst has raised over $110M in donated and invested capital, and invested in more than 100 Endeavor companies in over 25 markets. To date, Endeavor Catalyst has co-invested alongside a number of leading venture capital and growth equity funds, including Accel Partners, General Atlantic, NEA, Sequoia Capital and Tiger Global. Investments include Globant (NYSE: GLOB) in Argentina, Yemeksepeti.com (acquired by Delivery Hero) in Turkey, and dr. consulta in Brazil. Learn more here.
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