Argentine FinTech Ualá has reached a valuation of $2.45 billion following a $350 million infusion of new private funding, the SoftBank-backed company said Friday (Aug. 13).
As the Financial Times reported, Ualá’s growth comes at a time when investors are tapping into a shift in Latin America from cash toward a more digital economy. Ualá was valued at $900 million in 2020.
Ualá provides various financial services connected to a prepaid card and works via a mobile app. The company has issued more than 2.5 million cards in Argentina since launching in 2017. It debuted operations in Mexico in September of last year, issuing around 1,000 cards a day.
According to the news outlet, Ualá’s Series D funding round is part of a larger trend of foreign investment in FinTechs in Latin America, with private investors putting $7.6 billion into the sector in the first half of 2021, more than double the amount from the previous year.
“Ualá has already demonstrated impressive traction in Argentina and Mexico, and we believe they have a significant opportunity to expand in broader Latin America,” David Silverman, an investor at New York-based D1 Capital Partners, told the Financial Times.
Earlier this year, Ualá announced plans to acquire Wilobank, the country’s first digital bank, a move that would help the company reach more unbanked customers in a region where nearly half the population has no access to financial services.
“In some countries in the region, the use of digital payments is sometimes discouraged directly from shops due to high taxes or the high informality in the economy — also a direct consequence of a poor financial education — that contributes to many people only using cash,” Paula Arregui, chief operating officer for Mercado Pago, told PYMNTS in April.