Belvo, LatAm’s response to Plaid, raises $ 43 million to scale its API for financial services – TechCrunch
Belvo, a Latin American startup that has built an open finance API platform, today announced that it has raised $ 43 million in a Series A funding round.
A mix of venture capitalists and angel investors from Silicon Valley and Latin America participated in the funding, including Future Positive, Kibo Ventures, FJ Labs, Kaszek, MAYA Capital, Venture Friends, the co-founder and President of Rappi Sebastián Mejía, Harsh Sinha, CTO of Wise (formerly Transferwise) and CEO and founder of Nubank, David Vélez.
Citing data from Crunchbase, Belvo believes the tour represents the largest A-Series ever raised by a Latin American fintech. In May 2020, Belvo raised a $ 10 million seed round co-led by the Silicon Valley Founders Fund and Argentina’s Kaszek.
Belvo aims to work with the leading fintechs in Latin America, spanning verticals such as neobanks, credit providers, and personal finance products that Latin Americans use on a daily basis.
The goal of the startup, with its API platform designed for developers, which can be used to access and interpret the financial data of end users, is to create better, more efficient and more inclusive financial products in America. Latin. Popular Neobank app developers, credit providers, and personal finance tools use Belvo’s API to connect bank accounts to their apps to unleash the power of open banking.
As TechCrunch editor-in-chief Alex Wilhelm explained in this piece last year, Belvo could be seen as similar to US-based Plaid, but more tuned to the Latin American market so that it can integrate a more diverse data set to better meet the needs of the various markets it serves.
Thus, while Belvo’s objectives are “similar to the overall objective[s] of Plaid, ”co-founder and co-CEO Pablo Viguera told TechCrunch that Belvo isn’t just starting a banking API business in the hope of connecting apps to financial accounts. Instead, Belvo wants to build a finance API, which collects more information than is normally collected by these systems. Latin America is massively underbanked and unbanked, so the more data from more sources the better.
“Basically we are pushing for similar results [as Plaid] in terms of when you think of open banking or open finance, ”Viguera said. “We are working to democratize access to financial data and allow end users to port that data and share that data with whoever they want.”
The company assumes that just because a significant number of the region’s population is underbanked does not mean that it is not yet financially active. Belvo’s goal is to link all kinds of accounts. For example, Viguera told TechCrunch that some companies in the concert economy in Latin America issue their own cards that allow workers to cash in at small local stores. Over time, all of these transactions are data that could be linked with the help of Belvo, creating a much larger network than we are used to nationally.
The company’s work to connect banks and non-banks with each other is key to the company’s goal of enabling “any fintech or developer to access and interpret users’ financial data.” according to Viguera.
Viguera and co-CEO Oriol Tintoré founded Belvo in May 2019, and it was part of Y Combinator Winter 2020 lot. Since launching its platform last year, the company claims to have built a customer base of more than 60 businesses across Mexico, Brazil and Colombia, handling millions of API calls monthly.
This is important because, as Alex noted last year, Like the other players in the API space, Belvo invoices each API call that its customers use (in this sense, it has a model similar to that of Twilio).
Additionally, over the past year, Belvo said it has extended its API coverage to over 40 financial institutions, giving businesses the ability to connect to over 90% of personal and business bank accounts in Latin America. , as well as tax authorities (such as the SAT in Mexico) and concert economy platforms.
“Essentially, we’re taking unstructured financial data that an individual might have outside of a bank, such as the integrations we have with gig economy platforms like Uber and Rappi. We can extract a driver’s information from their Uber app, which is sort of designed like a banking app, and turn it into meaningful banking information that third parties can use to make assessments as if it were data. from a bank, ”Viguera explained. .
The startup plans to use its new capital to expand its product offering, continue to expand its geographic footprint and double its current workforce to 70 people. Specifically, Belvo plans to hire more than 50 engineers in Mexico and Brazil by the end of the year. It currently has offices in Mexico City, São Paulo and Barcelona. The company also aims to launch its bank-to-bank payment initiation offering in Mexico and Brazil.
Belvo currently operates in Mexico, Colombia and Brazil.
But he sees “a lot of opportunity” in other Latin American markets, particularly Chile, Peru and Argentina, Viguera told TechCrunch. “In due course, we will look to continue our expansion there.”
Fred Blackford, founding partner of Future Positive, believes that Belvo represents “a real transformative opportunity for the region’s financial sector”.
Nicolás Szekasy, co-founder and managing partner of Kaszek, noted that the demand for financial services in Latin America is growing at an exponential rate.
“Belvo is developing the infrastructure that will allow both large institutions and the emerging generation of young players to successfully deploy their solutions,” he said. “Oriol, Pablo and the Belvo team have led the development of a sophisticated platform that solves very complex technical challenges, and the company’s exponential growth reflects how it delivers a product that perfectly matches the requirements. of the market. ”