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Tencent boosts Argentine fintech bet, leading US$150m round

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Chinese internet giant Tencent is increasing its bet on Argentina's mobile payments app Ualá, leading a US$150 million Series C funding round where it was joined by Japanese conglomerate SoftBank Group Corp and others.

[BUENOS AIRES] Chinese internet giant Tencent is increasing its bet on Argentina's mobile payments app Ualá, leading a US$150 million Series C funding round where it was joined by Japanese conglomerate SoftBank Group Corp and others.

Ualá plans to use the funds to triple its team to over 500 employees by the end of next year, expand its loans product, and develop new business units, said founder and chief executive officer Pierpaolo Barbieri. Some of the company's earlier heavyweight investors, including Soros Fund Management LLC, Goldman Sachs Investment Partners and Jefferies LLC, are among other participants in the funding round.

The announcement comes two weeks after the company rolled out a new investing tool in a low-risk mutual fund through the app. Ualá has issued 1.3 million prepaid cards since it started operating in October 2017, as part of a bet on long-term growth in a country in which less than half of the population has a bank account. Mr Barbieri declined to comment on plans to expand outside of Argentina or the company's valuation.

"It's by far the largest investment we've received," Mr Barbieri said in an interview. "We want to continue to partner with other players on financial services."

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Tencent first announced in April that it was taking a stake in the company, without disclosing the amount. Tencent and SoftBank will each have a representative on Ualá's 7-person board of directors. The investment also marks SoftBank's first venture in Argentina, Mr Barbieri said.

 

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