Argentine fintech company Ualá hits 1 mn issued cards

EFE Ingles |

Buenos Aires, (EFE).- Ualá, the Argentine financial technology company founded by young entrepreneur Pierpaolo Barbieri, said Monday that it had hit the milestone of 1 million issued cards in this South American country, where access to financial services is a challenge.

"We dreamt Ualá as an innovative hub of financial services, providing financial inclusion and better services to all. We never expected to issue 1 million cards in less than two years. This confidence from users makes us very proud, and it is an invitation to keep changing paradigms. We reached a million. Now we aim toward the next forty," the 32-year-old Barbieri, who serves as Ualá's CEO, said in a statement.

Ualá, launched just two years ago, seeks to provide access to the financial system in Argentina by offering a free prepaid international Mastercard card that can be used to shop in stores or on websites.

The fintech company has added new services this year for users, such as the ability to pay bills at some 4,000 businesses and reload the card for use on public transit via the Ualá mobile app.

In addition, the company said it recently started offering "selected users" loans of up to 100,000 pesos ($2,325).

Ualá is focusing on a market in which financial inclusion is an unfulfilled goal.

In Argentina, according to the World Bank Global Findex Report (World Bank 2017), only 41 percent of people have a debit card and just 24 percent have a credit card.

"Mastercard is convinced that financial inclusion is a key factor for the development of a country through the promotion of formal economy which, as well, is related with the reduction of poverty and the increase of prosperity," Mastercard Argentina business development director Bruno Pisani said.

Of the 1 million cards issued by Ualá in the past 21 months, some 7 percent were requested by people younger than 18 - cards can be obtained starting at age 13 - and nearly seven of every 10 cards were issued in Argentina's interior, outside Buenos Aires and its populous metropolitan area.

"Initiatives such as Ualá, and all its related products, such as our prepaid cards, are key to increase the access to financial services that facilitate people's daily lives," Pisani said.

The international Mastercard prepaid card, which can be obtained and reloaded with no fees, is linked to a mobile app that allows users to perform a large variety of financial transactions, such as "transferring money, paying bills, making payments and topping up prepaid cell phones and public transportation cards," Ualá said. EFE

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