The story of Ualá app

What is Uala app?

Uala is an Argentinian fintech startup that lets people manage a prepaid credit card, payments, and investing from one app.

The company was founded by Pierpaolo Barbieri in 2017 and investors include a large list of great funds and people. We will see it. 

What does Uala do?

Uala’s mission is the democratization of finance on LATAM. The app wants to offer a universal account for finance and payment management.

Though one app Uala offers a long list of things:

  • Management of a prepaid credit card.
  • Investing
  • Pay services.
  • Pay at commerce
  • Pay subscriptions to digital services like Netflix or Spotify.
  • Take loans
  • Create a credit history
  • Insurances for pets, cell phones, etc
  • Discounts at different stores, businesses, and services.

The Startup has a service for businesses too, the app lets small businesses charge their sales by Uala’s app through a QR code. 

Uala’s products

As was already mentioned, Uala offers a lot of options in one app. We can say that the main product of Uala is its app.

Despite that, we can see on the app how the company customizes its different products. Let’s see a summary of the main products:

Investing

In the investments sections. Uala works through Ualintec and Uanex, its trades and exchange companies respectively. 

It gives us options to invest in Funds and buy stocks, dollars (with currencies from Latam countries), and crypto.

Pay services

With just one click or by scanning the bill, the user can pay services like energy, transport, Internet, games, or taxes.

Pay purchases with QR

By scanning a QR at a physical store, the user can pay directly from the app.

That reduces the necessity to use cash and lets people have a credit history from everyday purchases. 

Prepaid credit card management

From the app, the startup let users manage a prepaid credit card. You can activate and deactivate at any moment from the phone.

The prepaid credit card has a long list of uses like buying at eCommerce, subscriptions to digital services, sending money fast to friends or family, and purchases at physical stores, among others. 

Loans

The app offers users to divide their purchases into different dues and pay them a long time after buying. This is a big adventure for the user in countries with high inflation.  

Charges

For small businesses, ualá offers different ways to charge their sales directly on the app. There are three different options:

  • By a personalized QR: Here the commerce generates a QR directly from the app, for each customer.
  • By a general QR: The store just has a unique QR that the customer scan and customize the price.
  • By a Postnet: With a service named Ualá Bis, the company lets commerces accept payments from debit and credit cards. 

How does Uala make money?

The Uala team has a long-term perspective, they want to offer the best user experience possible. 

In order to do that, they charge small fees and interest on their products. Here are the 3 main sources of income for Uala:

  • Fees for commerce that use Uala to charge their sales. 
  • Interest from Lonas that uala gives to the users
  • Fees from the investments

Founding Story

The emergence of the idea and the mission

Pierpaolo Barbieri, who is the founder and CEO of Uala, studied history at Harvard. There he learned about the problem with the financial integration at Latam.

When Pierpaolo finished his studies. He started looking for a solution to that problem, this is how the idea emerged. 

Uala’s idea from the beginning is to let banks and financial possibilities to everyone.  For that, they are looking for the digitalization of finances and transactions.

This digitalization would let people create a credit history and from that access new products, services, and financial instruments.

This is how in 2017, Uala launched its app.

Uala’s Investors and funding story

From 2017 until today ualá has received a total funding amount of $544M. This funding makes the startup a unicorn since his series D in August 2021. 

The main investors at Uala are: 

  • Soros fund management: From Series A at 2018
  • Goldman Sachs: From Series B at 2018
  • Tencent: From Series C at 2019 and Series D at 2021
  • Softbank: From Series C at 2019 and Series D at 2021

FAQs about Uala

Is Uala a bank?

Ualá is considerate a Neobank, the company provides different services and finance management products to let more people access bank services.

How many customers does ualá have?

In 2023 Uala already has more than 5 million users in 3 countries (Argentina, Mexico and Colombia).

Where is Uala located?

The Uala’s HQ is at Buenos Aires, Argentina. 

Uala has operations in Argentina, Mexico, and Colombia. The objective is to expand to all of Latam, Europa, and the US. 

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