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Albo’s second round, $18 million funding was led by Peter Thiel’s VC firm Valar Ventures. The deal brought Mexico City-based Albo’s total raised to $26.1 million.
Nowadays we hear a lot about startups trying to capitalize on the fintech opportunity. One did such a thing now in Mexico by closing on a new sum of funding. What began as a $7.4 million Series A last January now has now grown to $26.4 million in a recent extension of Mexican challenger bank Albo.
Led by the U.S.-based Valar Ventures this event can be marked as one of the largest early rounds for a Mexican startup. It seems Albo got its investment from Paypal co-founder Peter Thiel, in the latest indication that the government’s push for financial inclusion places Mexico among the most attractive locations in Latin America for fintech investors.
This is however not the first Mexican company that managed to raise larger-than-average amounts in Series A rounds. There was Y-Combinator backed scooter company Grin which raised a $45.7 million Series A. There is also Klar, the Chime clone that managed to score $57.5 million in debt and equity seed funding.
As previously mentioned, Albo is Valar Ventures’ first swoop into Mexico, even though it has a sweet taste for neobanks across the globe. The fund, which was founded by Peter Thiel, allegedly invested in N26 and TransferWise.
Mountain Nazca and Flourish Ventures also joined Albo’s Series A.
Be it as it may, Albo represents both a Mastercard debit card and a personal finance app that allows customers to open a bank account in five minutes through a branchless experience.
This concept represents definitely one of the most profitable opportunities in Mexico, the second strongest economy in Latin America behind Brazil. 45% of Mexico’s population is underbanked. And, even though they have access to bank accounts, traditional Mexican lenders don’t offer them deep financial products that could enable them to form their wealth through lending and savings. So, there we have a market of 59 million people only in Mexico who need that kind of product, one with no high fees and guaranteed transparency.
Albo solely owns the market share in Mexico with 200,000 monthly active customers who are spending and making transactions in its platform. However, Albo cannot say it is the only consumer neobank option in the country. One of the highest funded startups in all of Latin America, Brazil’s Nubank, came to Mexico in May of this year. With its 8.5 million clients in Brazil, and $10 billion valuation, with the competitors as N26 and Revolut that also have their eyes set on the Mexican market, it will be hard to succeed.
Albo’s founder Angel Sahagun says that while there may be some similarities in Nubank and Albo customers, the offerings are different. Nubank gives credit cards to existing users who already have a certain credit history while Albo doesn’t target to those customers.
According to Sahagun, the new funds will help his company in expanding leadership roles, in addition to ramping up customer acquisition.
“New features are also on the agenda, such as saving products to assist users in budgeting funds more efficiently, as well as lending options.”
Be it as it may, Mexico sure isn’t easy to succeed if you’re into banking. There are ridiculously high-interest rates, low levels of institutional trust, and, of course, the infinite trails of bureaucracy that are all discouraging Mexican citizens from traditional banking means.
Credit Karma Goes Fintech with Their New App
Meanwhile, the U.S. personal finance company Credit Karma, which has managed to collect 100 million users to date, has acquired a five-person company to build out its savings app Haven Money.
The terms of the deal, including the price, were not disclosed, but Jagjit Chawla, the vice president and general manager of Tax and Savings at Credit Karma said this is all the part of the Credit Karma’s investment in autonomous finances for its customers, moving from understanding their customers money through credit scores and taxes to “playing an active role in it.”
“The industry of neobanks is trying to do a lot of different things. I don’t intend for us to ever become a bank. But we still operate in a highly regulated financial industry”, added he.