The move is another milestone for Ualá, which was valued at $2.5 billion in its latest funding round. The company already provides a slew of financial services based on a prepaid card managed through a mobile app. Uala, which has more than 5 million users in Argentina, Mexico and Colombia, created its own company called Uanex to manage the new products, founder and CEO Pierpaolo Barbieri said in interview.
“Argentina is the best market to make this investment, given that it’s one of the region’s countries where the adoption is growing fastest,” Barbieri said. About 4.5 million Uala clients are in Argentina, he said.
Due to strict capital controls and soaring inflation that could reach 100% annually this year, Argentines have been early and enthusiastic adopters of cryptocurrency technologies. The South American country is ranked #13 globally in crypto adoption, according to Chainalysis, a company specialized in blockchain analysis.
The company said in October that it plans to invest $150 million across the region over 18 months and aims to break even in Argentina in 2023. Uala expects to reach 25 million users in the next 5 years.
The crypto purchases and sales can be made with less than 250 pesos ($1.50), and initially the products will be switched on for a small number of select users. The remaining clients will be progressively enabled if they register on the Uala website. Currently, the Uala app also offers the ability to invest in mutual funds, dollars and Cedears.
Uala is also backed by Japanese conglomerate SoftBank Group Corp. and Chinese Internet giant Tencent Holdings Ltd., as well as early investors including Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Ribbit Capital and Monashees.
“Users asked us to invest in crypto through our app a long time ago”, Andres Rodriguez Ledermann, Uala’s Wealth Management VP, said in the interview.