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Argentina’s Fintech Uala Raises US$150 Million, Mainly From Softbank and Tencent

Argentina’s Fintech startup Uala has raised US$150 million in a funding round led by Softbank and Chinese technology conglomerate Tencent.

The Buenos Aires-based company has stated that it would use the proceeds of the deal to develop more innovative products and increase its workforce by three times the current size.

As part of the agreement, a representative from each of both investors will get a seat at the startup’s board.

Founded by Harvard-educated Argentinean, Pierpaolo Barbieri, Uala provides mobile banking services.

Uala is capitalizing on the lack of financial inclusion in Argentina, where around 50% of homeowners own a debit or credit card. Getting access to credit is very difficult in Argentina, according to the World Bank.

With Uala’s mobile app, people can transfer money, pay utility bills, apply for loans, and invest in a range of financial instruments, such as mutual funds. Uala currently employs around 200 people, up from 60 last year.

The fintech firm is, however, not a bank, but it offers prepaid Mastercards, which people use to withdraw cash from ATMs and pay for online purchases. People without bank accounts can also use the app for managing their finances.

Uala’s wide-ranging services were what attracted foreign investors, who now believe that the startup will soon grow into another Nubank, the Brazilian fintech that gained unicorn status recently.

The fintech firm’s future is dependent on the number of financial institutions it allies within Argentina, say analysts.

Narayan Ammachchi

News Editor for Nearshore Americas, Narayan Ammachchi is a career journalist with a decade of experience in politics and international business. He works out of his base in the Indian Silicon City of Bangalore.

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