A Latin American tech company is planting itself in South Florida — and has a fresh round of funding to grow on.
YellowPepper, which provides mobile-banking and payment solutions in the region and recently moved to Miami, announced it has received $15 million in venture funding.
The Series C fund-raising round, which brings the total venture funding to $30 million, was led by Latin Idea Ventures, and included IFC/World Bank and other investors. Serge Elkiner, YellowPepper’s CEO and co-founder, said the funding will be used to sharpen its new focus on the mobile payments industry and initially launch into four key markets: Colombia, Mexico, Ecuador and Peru. After that, YellowPepper may enter other markets — including possibily the United States. “When we decided to enter Mexico, we looked for an investor with deep roots in Mexico who would also see their investment as a regional play with potentially an extention to the U.S.,” Elkiner said in an interview last week.
“We are thrilled to be new investors in YellowPepper, a company that fits into Latin Idea's investment strategy perfectly,” said Alex Rossi, managing partner of Latin Idea Ventures who will be joining the board. “We were attracted by the large market opportunity to roll out mobile banking and mobile payments regionally on a first mover basis matched by a top-notch entrepreneurial management team.”
The company, which has offered mobile banking in eight countries, thinks mobile payments are a logical next step and the way forward is with an app that can be used everywhere — no cards needed.
“We’re trying to make mobile payments a reality in Latin America,” Elkiner said. “Our philosophy is that if you really want to go to mobile payments and replace the card use, you really need to replace it in every single place possible.”
Case in point: YellowPepper’s recent mobile-payment launch in Colombia, a country where there are more cellphones than people, according to the World Bank, but the “unbanked” population is estimated at 35 percent.
“It is the first time in the region and maybe anywhere in the world that there will be a nationwide solution for all the banks to join that is available on every point of sale in the country. Seventy percent of the ATMs in [Colombia] will be compatible by the end of the year, and most of the e-commerce sites will be compatible as well,” Elkiner said. “Our next step is Mexico and Ecuador — we’ll try to do the same thing. A lot of people are craving these kinds of apps.”
For the past four years, YellowPepper has grown 50 percent year over year, Elkiner said. The company currently caters to 6 million users monthly in Latin America and employs about 70 people globally, including five in South Florida. For Elkiner, who lives in South Florida, Miami — and its burgeoning technology community — seemed a logical choice for a base. “Miami is the capital of Latin America — I really believe it is true. We are in the financial business and cater to the different financial players... and all of those headquarters for Latin America are in Miami. It is the business center for the region.”
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