Sequoia Capital Leads $39 Million Round to Back Chilean Fintech Startup
(Bloomberg) -- A Chilean asset manager with funds named after Hollywood stars, such as Conservative Clooney, Moderate Pitt, Risky Norris and Very Conservative Streep, is Sequoia Capital’s latest bet in Latin America’s burgeoning fintech industry.
Fintual Inc. secured $39 million from investors led by Sequoia with funds mostly going to speed up its growing Mexican operations, founder and chief executive officer Pedro Pineda said.
“Our challenge for the next 18 months is Mexico, Mexico, Mexico,” Pineda said in an interview via Zoom. “Chile is our main market right now and our plan is for Mexico to become our main market within the next one or two years.”
This is Menlo Park-based Sequoia’s first investment in Chile. It has invested in other regional startups such as travel website Despegar.com, lender Nubank and delivery service Rappi. Fintual is a part of a larger contingent of startups using technology to upend Latin America’s financial industry. Firms like Brazil’s Nubank have grown into multi-billion dollar companies by selling easier-to-use, cheaper products in a region where fees are notoriously high and service is lacking.
Fintual was founded in 2018 and provides savings and investment options through an online platform. Pineda said it was the first financial services company in Chile and Mexico that can do the onboarding of new clients fully online without having to sign a single paper.
Fintual manages $665 million in assets for more than 70,000 clients through passive investments, mostly exchange traded funds. The weighting of the ETFs in each fund is periodically reviewed through their own algorithms and a small team of investment managers.
Fintual should reach $1 billion in assets under management in Chile and Mexico in the next three or four months and about $2 billion by the end of next year, Pineda said. Chilean mutual funds had about $60 billion in assets under management at the end of September, according to the regulator.
The company began operations in Mexico last year and in July it acquired fund distributor Invermerica there for an undisclosed amount. The company claims to have grown its assets under management there 45% just in the last month.
Fintual secured about $15 million in a series A round from Kaszek Ventures earlier this year and Sequoia contacted them shortly after that expressing interest in entering the company, Pineda said.
Fintual plans to launch this year a “group investments” platform which will allow clients to pool savings for a common goal. Participants will be able to see the progress of the group investment while maintaining control over their own share. Friends will be able to save for a joint trip, projects or other investments.
In the future, Fintual may launch new products such as a savings account in dollars for retail clients and a debit or prepaid card that invests unused balances in Fintual’s own funds instead of not obtaining any returns, Pineda said.
Venture capital investments have been growing to record levels in Latin America as funds look for options amid volatile equity and fixed income markets and political concerns. In the third quarter alone venture capital investments reached $5.1 billion bringing the year-to-date’s total to a record $11.5 billion, according to The Association for Private Capital Investment in Latin America, Lavca.
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