China's Tencent, SoftBank invest $350 million in Uala

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Aug 13 - China's online giant, Tencent Holdings Ltd, and SoftBank Group Corp's Latin America-focused fund led an investment round for the Argentine firm Uala that raised its valuation to $2.45 billion, the fintech company said on Friday.

The $350 million investment comes several months after Uala announced its expansion in Latin America, as it tries to capitalize on the interest in the fast-growing fintech industry in Mexico.

Launched in October 2017, Uala offers a MasterCard branded prepaid card and an app that allows users access to a number of financial services including sending and receiving money, online shopping, withdrawing cash at ATMs and requesting loans.

The digital banking startup, founded by Harvard University Graduate Pierpaolo Barbieri, has a headcount of 1,000 and aims to increase it to 1,500 by the end of this year. Barbieri said Uala could eventually expand into Peru, Paraguay, Chile, Paraguay and Europe.

In June, the company said it had issued more than three million prepaid MasterCard cards in Argentina. Uala is also trying to expand through the acquisition of rival Wilobank, which is the first fully digital bank approved by the Central Bank in Argentina.

Investment giant SoftBank doubled down on its bets in Brazil, with the Japanese conglomerate investing in startups including Mexico's Clip and South America’s creditas.

New investors D 1 Capital Partners and 166 2 nd, a fund created by WeWork co-founder Adam Neumann, also participated in the round.