Bold, a technology company that enables financial access to electronic payments in Colombia, has raised $55 million in a Series B funding round led by Tiger Global Management.
General Atlantic and Endeavor Catalyst took part in the round, bringing the total amount raised from Bold to $65 million.
Founded in the second quarter of 2019, Bold, based in Bogota, is a payment service provider, or independent merchant acquirer, focused on serving micro and SME merchants. The company has declared itself mission is to promote financial inclusion by expanding the digital payments ecosystem in Colombia.
The startup launched its first product, a credit card reader, in the first quarter of 2020. In the first quarter of 2021, it also started offering a “pay-by-link” service.
Bold co-founder and CEO José Vélez said his company has a “relentless focus” on usability and customer experience.
“Most of our merchants receive card payments for the first time and we’ve worked very hard to make it easy for them to receive payments,” he said. For example, the company claims traders can sign up “in as little as five minutes – versus an average of 15 days at old banks.” Bold offers low-cost payment terminals that allow businesses to accept link payments and other local payment methods without monthly point-of-sale fees.
The startup must be doing something right. Bold ended 2021 with over 100,000 traders using his services. It also processed “31x” more transactions in 2021 than in 2020. It claims that merchants supported by Bold have seen sales grow by about 25% on average simply by enabling digital payments.
“If you go to a flea market in the main cities of the country, you will see that many of the sellers use Bold to receive payments. If you go to Cartagena you will also see that many of the tourist providers use Bold to receive their payments,” said Vélez. “Our vision is to go beyond just pay and become their banking and technology partner to help them grow and thrive.”
To realize that vision, Bold has established and is setting up a financial institution in Colombia to expand the offering, including adding a bank account, debit card and cash advances.
“We are excited about the opportunities ahead for the company as Colombia transitions from a cash-based economy to a digital payments ecosystem,” he added. Vélez, former co-founder and CEO of PayU Latam, a technology platform for online and cross-border payments.
In fact, he noted that cash still represents more than 80% of transaction volume in Colombia, compared to 35% in Brazil and 30% in the United States.
“Bold is laying a critical foundation for small businesses to expand their customer base and move into the next generation of payments,” said Vélez. “The Series B will enable us to scale faster, launch new and additional services for our vendors, and attract and retain top talent.” Currently, the company has more than 400 employees, up from about 120 employees at this time last year. It also plans to use the money to accelerate its geographic expansion into other markets in Latin America, including Peru, Ecuador and Chile.
Luiz Ribeiro, director of General Atlantic, believes that Bold plays a “unique” role as a gateway for small merchants to accept digital payments in Colombia.
Tiger Global Management Partner John Curtius agrees, noting that in the past, small and medium-sized businesses have not been able to access electronic payments “because they are constantly overlooked by established banks.”
“Bold offers small merchants a much-needed opportunity to access digital payments…with great products that are affordable and easy to use,” he said.