Alongside Brazil and Mexico, Colombia is among the top three Latin American countries when it comes to fintech innovation.
The country was home to 279 fintech companies in 2021, behind only Brazil (771) and Mexico (512). The figure makes Colombia the third largest fintech ecosystem in Latin America (LatAm), accounting for 11% of all fintech companies in the region, a 2022 report by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and Finnovista shows.
The rise of the Colombian fintech sector comes on the back of regulatory initiatives and supportive efforts from the government to foster innovation in the banking and financial sector.
In 2021, Colombia launched a regulatory sandbox, allowing fintech companies and financial firms to test out innovative products. Currently, the government is working on open banking regulation, unveiling in a recent national roadmap plans to introduce an open finance scheme.
So far, two documents outlining the foundations for open finance have been issued: a technical document that describes the general rules to implement open finance in the country and which suggests a regulatory intervention, and a draft decree approved in July 2022 that specifies the rules around the transfer of consumer data between financial entities.
As the fintech revolution continues to take hold of Colombia, we look today at six fast-growing fintech startups from the Latin American countries that are transforming the banking and financial landscape. These young, independent startups have witnessed notable growth this past year, have gained support from notable investors and are poised for further expansion this year onwards.
Founded in 2018 and based in Bogota, Addi is a buy now, pay later (BNPL) startup that allows shoppers to pay for their purchases in multiple monthly instalments, without any interests, hidden fees nor paperwork.
Through the Addi app, users can pay their instalments; track their purchases, available limit, and payment history; get payment reminders; and receive exclusive promotions from partner stores. Hundreds of merchants including Arturo Calle, Keep Running, Claro and Mario Hernandez are collaborating with Addi to increase their order sizes and shopping conversions.
Addi secured a Series B funding round in September 2021, bringing the startup’s 90-day funding total to US$140 million. The company disclosed that the round had nearly tripled its valuation into the “hundreds of millions”. It said at the time that it had experienced exponential growth with payment volume increasing 13-fold.
Addi said it would use the proceeds to continue to scale its current operations in Colombia and Brazil, expand to other Latin American markets and enhance its BNPL offering.
Founded in 2017 and based in Medellin, Finaktiva operates a digital credit platform intended to boost the growth of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and entrepreneurs in Colombia. Finaktiva uses technology to gain insights into each stage of business maturation and support companies at every stage. The platform offers flexible credit solutions for early-stage startups, credit solutions, factoring, and debt funds, helping fast-growing businesses access financing, acquire immediate liquidity, and disperse payment to their suppliers.
In September 2022, Finaktiva secured US$25 million in debt financing. Finaktiva CEO Pablo Santos said at the time that the company closed its first 2022 semester with a positive balance and that it had financed more than US$500 million to more than 6,000 companies, recording over 115,000 transactions.
The company acquired Libera, a Colombia fintech specializing in billing and online payments, in November 2021 to expand its services and payment capabilities to SMEs.
Founded in 2019 and based in Bogota, Bold is a payment services provider, or independent merchant acquirer, serving micro and SME merchants. Bold’s platform lets merchants enroll in just five minutes and offers low-cost payment terminals that enable businesses to accept link payments and other local payment methods, with no monthly point-of-sale (POS) fees.
Since its inception, Bold says it has scaled to more than 380 employees and generated strong traction with merchants, reaching over 100,000 acquired merchants. In Colombia, where cash still represents more than 80% of transaction volume, versus 35% in Brazil and 30% in the US, the company aims to lay the groundwork for small businesses to expand their customer bases and enter the digital realm.
Bold secured a US$55 million Series B in February 2022 which it said it would use expand its product and service offering into adjacent financial services for merchants, including working capital financing, lending, deposit accounts, debit and credit cards, as well as to accelerate geographic expansion and hire new talent.
Founded in 2018 and headquartered in Bogota, Movii is the developer of a digital payment application designed to make financial transactions more convenient and more accessible to unbanked populations.
Movii serves its customers through a mobile app as well as through a large network of agents and retailers which are in charge of offering services such as peer-to-peer (P2P) transfers, bill payments, correspondent banking and mobile top-ups. The Movii digital wallet also comes with an accompanying payment card, which allows users to shop online and at physical stores.
In February 2022, Movii raised US$17 million as part of a Series C. The company said at the time that the round was about with a total sum of US$65 million. It had accumulated around 2.5 million users and 60,000 merchants. The round followed a US$15 million Series B secured in October 2021.
Movii was the first licensed Sociedad Especializada en Pagos y Depositos Electronicos (SEDPE), or Specialized Electronic Payments Society, to launch in Colombia.
Founded in 2016 and based in Medellin, Sempli develops financial products for businesses. The company specializes in digital lending to small companies in Colombia, providing working capital loans of between US$10,000 and US$100,000 for periods of between three and 36 months.
Sempli blends human and technology approaches in its lending process, using both a data-based credit scoring system and a short on-site due diligence. This process, combined with Sempli’s user-friendly online client interface, allows the company to disburse loans in 72 hours.
Sempli announced in March 2022 a new financing round that brought the total raised by the company since 2017 to US$42 million. Sempli said it would use the funds to expand its portfolio, increasing its capacity to serve the small business and entrepreneur segment.
The company also aims to launch new products that will enable it to deepen its new functionalities for clients through embedded finance, payment solutions for businesses as well as financial advisory services.
Founded in 2015 and based in Bogota, Tpaga is a mobile banking and payment app that allows users to open and manage a digital account, make bill payments, transfer money, withdraw money, invest in funds as well as cryptocurrencies, and much more. The digital account works which a free accompanying payment card that allows users to pay for goods and service.
Tpaga claims more than 1.5 million users and operations in over 40 cities across Colombia.
The startup secured a US$10 million Series A in February 2022, bringing its total funding to US$15.1 million. It said it would use the proceeds to grow its team and further develop its product.
Featured image credit: edited from Unsplash