Village Capital has unveiled the names of the 12 companies that will participate in its Finance Forward Latin America 2020 accelerator program. The incoming cohort will get five weeks of training to help them improve their business models and tailor their solutions for the current demands of the marketplace. The top two peer-selected startups will be eligible to receive $50,000 each in grant funding from program partner MetLife Foundation. Startups ranked third to fifth each will receive $16,000 in grant funding.
What do the 12 startups chosen – from an applicant pool of more than 140 – suggest about the state of fintech innovation in Latin America?
First of all, in some ways, the geographic distribution of companies is representative of what we see in terms of fintech’s strength in the region. Mexico has three representatives, Argentina has two, and Brazil and Chile both have one. Perhaps more surprising is the representation from Colombian fintech, with the country bringing five startups to the program.
Village Capital notes that the selected startups also reflect impressive gender diversity, with more than 80% of the participating companies having one or more female founders. The accelerator also credited the more than 40% of these companies that are innovating “outside major fintech hubs.”
The startups are involved in a wide range of fintech focus areas – from debt management and credit services to e-commerce, “buy now pay later” solutions. Many of these firms offer innovations that are particularly geared toward un- and under-banked populations. Among the more interesting startups in this category are Fundefir, a Colombia startup that specializes in bringing credit and insurance to the underbanked, and Quipu Market, also based in Colombia, which offers an e-commerce marketplace that enables informal microbusinesses to buy and sell locally using community tokens rather than cash.
Village Capital’s accelerator program features the support of PayPal and Moody’s, as well as MetLife Foundation. Since its launch in 2009, Village Capital has worked with more than 1,000 early stage entrepreneurs via its accelerator programs.
“The coronavirus pandemic has had devastating financial effects on low-income populations in Latin America,” Regional Manager for Village Capital Daniel Cossio said. “Now more than ever, tech-driven innovation can be at the forefront of helping small businesses stay afloat, families manage their income, and the region embark on what is bound to be a challenging recovery.”
See the full list of the incoming companies.
Some of the more recent research on fintech in Latin America includes this February report from CB Insights, which helps provide context for the expectations many analysts had for the region at the end of 2019. For insights since the COVID-19 crisis, the May discussion published by Latin America Reports shows how fintech has played a “stabilizing” role in helping businesses and individuals cope with the economic and social impact of the pandemic.
Here is our weekly look at fintech around the world.
Latin America and the Caribbean
- Brazil’s Nubank acquires U.S.-based consultant firm Cognitect.
- Payment solutions provider Cohort Go teams up with Brazilian bank Itau as it expands into the country.
- Konsentus and Open Vector collaborate to bring open banking to financial institutions in Latin America and Canada.
- Hong Kong payments network infrastructure startup EMQ raises $20 million in funding to accelerate cross-border payments.
- Venio, a mobile app that specializes in providing financing in emerging markets, goes live in the Philippines.
- AEE News Today profiles Malaysian fintech Instapay Technologies which recently partnered with Mastercard to launch an e-wallet service for migrant workers.
- Alegra, a cloud-based accounting software provider based in Colombia, announces expansion to Kenya, Nigeria, and South Africa.
- Airtel Africa teams up with Mukuru to enable cross-border payments.
- Mobile money operators are among the biggest players in fintech in sub-Saharan Africa. TechZim reviews the state of mobile money in the southern part of the continent.
Central and Eastern Europe
- A biometric facial recognition-based payments system developed by Romanian fintech PayByFace goes live in Bucharest’s Tucano Coffee shops.
- Nordigen scores payments license from Latvia’s Financial and Capital Markets Commission (FKTK), enabling it to provide account information services.
- Lithuania’s Bankera introduces business loans for SMEs.
Middle East and Northern Africa
- Arabian Business takes a look at the rise in popularity of buy now pay later platforms in the UAE.
- Dubai International Financial Centre inks Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with China’s Jiaozi Fintech Dreamworks.
- Al Khaleej Today profiles Saudi Arabia-based payments company Tap Payments and its initiatives to help small businesses during the COVID-19 crisis.
Central and Southern Asia
- Indian online investment and wealth management platform, Paytm Money, introduces new Chief Executive Officer Varun Sridhar.
- Uzbekistan’s first digital bank, TBC Bank, goes live with technology from Capital Banking Solutions.
- Niyo, an India-based neobank, acquires mutual fund investment platform Goalwise.