BUENOS AIRES, Oct 4 (Reuters) - Argentina's fintech
unicorn Uala will invest $150 million over the next 18 months to
boost its digital banking business, mainly in Mexico and
Colombia, its Chief Executive Pierpaolo Barbieri said in an
interview with Reuters.
The fast-growing firm, which has a valuation of some $2.5
billion, is aiming to expand its user base at least fivefold to
25-30 million people in the next five years, from five million
users currently around in Latin America.
"In the next 18 months alone we are going to invest $150
million more in growth," Barbieri, 35, said at the companies
offices in Buenos Aires. "Most of those funds are going to be
destined to push growth in Mexico and Colombia.
Uala bought Argentine digital banking company Wilobank this
year and invested $80 million to operate in Colombia, after
closing an investment round for $350 million in 2021 and
acquiring Mexican bank ABC Capital.
"In a market context where others are cutting investment, we
are expanding because we already have the capital," said
Barbieri, adding the firm wanted to expand its financial
offerings into debit cards, loans, investments, and insurance.
Major investors in Uala include China's tech giant Tencent
and Japan's SoftBank. Uala, which faces
regional competition from the likes of Brazil's Nubank, Mexico's
Stori and MercadoLibre payment arm Mercado Pago is
aiming to tap Latin America's largely unbanked population.
"Latin America is 20% digitized against 50% in Europe and
70% in China. I know that digitization will continue," said
"It seems to me a great shortfall of Latin America's
democracies that we have so many people outside the system. In
10 years there will be no people outside the financial system."
(Reporting by Nicholas Misculin; Editing by Adam Jourdan and