As investors continue to move more aggressively into Latin America’s startup scene, there’s one industry that seems to be drawing more attention than any others — financial services.
As wealth across the region continues to rise, access to adequate financial services — specifically debt — has become a pain-point for an upwardly mobile middle class that wants to be more entrepreneurial and have more financial tools than straight cash at their disposal.
That’s what’s driven companies like Nubank, the Brazilian consumer credit card behemoth, to valuations of roughly $4 billion; and it’s also what contributed to Creditas, a provider of secured loans, raking in $231 million in new financing from the SoftBank Vision Fund and SoftBank Group. Previous investors Vostok Emerging Finance, Santander InnoVentures and Amadeus Capital also participated in the round.
Founded by Sergio Furio in 2012, the company started as an originator of loans to Brazilian customers who were willing to offer up collateral in exchange for lower interest rates on their debt. Back in 2017, the company became more of a fully integrated lender for the entire process.
Thanks to investments from local and international investment firms, including Kaszek Ventures, Quona’s Accion Frontier Fund, Redpoint eVentures, QED Investors, Naspers Fintech, International Finance Corporation and Endeavor’s Catalyst fund, the company became one of Brazil’s largest new financial services startups.
Expect the company to use the new cash to expand its product portfolio and try to offer new lines of credit that it would issue itself — perhaps by trying to enter new businesses like unsecured consumer lending and credit cards.
If it does make its way into the unsecured side of the lending market, that would put the company squarely in competition with Nubank (which was reportedly in discussions with Creditas’ lead investor, SoftBank, about an investment earlier this year).
“At Creditas we relentlessly focus on creating an amazing experience that provides efficiency and lower prices to democratize the access to low-cost lending in Brazil. With these investments, we plan to accelerate this process and expand our business model in order to improve the lives of the Brazilian population,” said Sergio Furio, founder and CEO of Creditas, in a statement.
As a result of the investment, representatives from the SoftBank Vision Fund and SoftBank Latin America Fund will join Creditas’ board of directors.