Latin America

Mercado Libre and Kavak Boost Auto Lending, Companies Explore New Markets, and Layoffs at Cornershop – Contxto


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A week of few financing rounds but a lot of movements in the Latin American ecosystem, especially in the pre-owned car and e-commerce market. In less good news, Cornershop lays off 11% of its workforce.

This week, e-commerce giant Mercado Libre and Brazilian unicorn Creditas teamed up to offer credit for car purchases between individuals. This is not the only alliance between large technology companies in LatAm, as the Mexican used-car unicorn Kavak allied with credit institutions in Chile.

The big Latin American tech companies are betting on automobile financing when the demand for new cars has not yet stabilized after the pandemic, destabilizing the production and supply chain of new units. 

The companies seem to confirm that we are in the era of automotive credit in Latin America, where it is estimated that 90% of adopted car transfers occur between individuals and 40% have some kind of irregularity.

The alliance between Mercado Libre and Creditas to democratize the purchase of cars online began in July 2022 when they joined forces for users to obtain an automotive credit with just one click, receiving a personalized offer along with the support of an advisor.

Due to demand, both companies offer financing for the sale of a car between individuals. With this solution, people can access a credit ranging from 50 to 500 thousand Mexican pesos, have a down payment starting at 20% of the car’s total value, and defer payments up to 60 monthly installments.

On the other hand, Kavak, the best-valued startup in Latin America, announced the launch in Chile of its financing platform that, in alliance with MAF, Forum, and Tanner lending institutions, will make it easier for Chileans to access pre-owned cars. With the alliance, the unicorn valued at US$8.7 billion ensures that it will offer competitive rates to customers. 

Kavak has become a safe option for buying and selling used cars in the region, leveraged by technology. In the startup world, Kavak is a leader in purchasing and selling pre-owned cars and competes with Odetta and Caranty. These companies are also Mexican, but Kavak is the only one that has crossed international borders, reaching countries such as Peru, Chile, Argentina, and Brazil. 

Startups explore new markets in LatAm

It was a week full of startups landing in new markets. The Argentine crypto wallet Lemon arrives in Mexico to compete with the leader, Bitso, while two e-commerce startups are looking for new markets in the region: the Chilean LAP and the U.S.-based Liquido. 

Lemon

Lemon unveiled its launch in Mexico this week with an app that allows users in the region to send and receive cryptocurrencies without commission, interact with DeFi (decentralized finance), and participate in the NFT ecosystem. 

It will be a head-on competition for the Mexican leader, Bitso, a company that has tried to democratize cryptocurrencies in the country and whose valuation is US$2.2 billion.

Founded in 2019 by Marcelo Cavazzoli, Lemon seeks to simplify access to crypto and web3, allowing more users in Latin America to interact with the new digital and borderless economy. It is one of the Argentine startups that are democratizing cryptocurrencies and shares the mission with Belo and BuenBit in its home country.  

LAP

LAP, a Chilean startup seeking to democratize electronic exports and sales of Latin American products, arrives in Mexico with more than 20 integrated marketplaces worldwide, among which Amazon, eBay, Etsy, Walmart, and Mercado Libre stand out.

The startup, founded in 2017 by Nicolás Leal (CEO), Felipe Reyes (COO), and Nicolás Risso (CTO), connects Latin American sellers with different marketplaces and international e-commerce platforms. According to LAP, it has been growing at an average rate of 120% per year for the last four years.

It currently has a presence in Colombia and Ecuador, in addition to Chile, where it has 300 clients, 70% of its total portfolio. It aims to add 9,000 clients by 2025 and expects at least 65% of them to be Mexican companies, CEO Nicolás Leal told Contxto. 

In 2020 LAP raised US$1 million, with a focus on technological development. In 2022 it received a new round of investment led by Amarena, the family office of Patricia Angelini and Sons. Leal says they have an open Series A, so the amount is still confidential.

Liquid

The payment processing platform for merchants in Latin America, Liquido, announced the raising of US$26 million in investment rounds to consolidate its technological infrastructure.

The startup, which competes with giant Stripe, claims to process more than 5 million transactions a day. In LatAm, it is operating in countries such as Mexico, Brazil, Colombia, and Chile, and according to its data, has achieved more than US$300 million in transactions in the last year. 

With the investment, Liquido is doubling its bet on Latin America. According to Juan David Vahos, director of operations and expansion for the region, the next markets to be entered are Peru and Costa Rica.

The company expects to grow at least 300% before the end of 2023 with its payment collection and dispersion services, which seek to boost the growth of e-commerce in the region.

Cornershop lays off 11% of its employees and Shopify cuts 20% of its staff

Cornershop, the Chilean grocery delivery startup acquired by Uber, announced the layoff of 11% of its staff (250 employees), mainly from the technical team, spread across different markets in the region. The announcement was made by founder Oskar Hjertonsson in an email to employees. 

The layoffs come just over three months after Cornershop employees were hired by Uber and integrated into its organizational structure. Uber explained in a statement that the layoffs are a result of analyzing non-core functions to carry out its overall strategy. According to Uber, laid-off employees will receive severance packages and customized benefits.

In the midst of the e-commerce boom in Latin America, Shopify informed in a statement that it would lay off 20% of its workers worldwide.

The logistics part will be separated from Shopify. It was also revealed that Flexport will buy Shopify Logistics, becoming Shopify’s primary logistics partner.  

Lütke said that the Canadian-based company has been subtracting everything that gets in the way of making the best possible product over the past year. “We will need speed, agility, and a lot of innovation,” he said in reference to the changing times ahead. 

Shopify’s restructuring is relevant because it is one of the largest global e-commerce startups, which could reflect a slowdown in this type of business as a domino effect in Latin startups. Mexico is one of Shopify’s most important markets, where it landed in 2014, two years after its founding.

Round of the week: Senzai

Mexico City-based Senzai raised US$2 million in pre-seed capital to offer outcomes-based artificial intelligence (AI) for enterprise customers. 

The round, which comes amid the AI boom, was led by ALLVP, one of Mexico’s leading early-stage venture funds. The fund has also backed startups such as Cornershop, Fintual, Nuvocargo, Flink and Flat.

Senzai’s solution changes how companies use AI to optimize customer sales, retention, and collections strategies. It seeks to help banks, telcos, and insurance companies improve their business results by generating a measurable value proposition.

Currently, such strategies focus on predictive models, targeting top customers with offers, discounts, promotions, and so on. The startup argues that this is inefficient because a high probability of canceling or buying something doesn’t mean you can influence outcomes.

 

Main image: Adobe Stock

You may also be interested in: Over 40 and Want To Launch a Startup? It Could Be the Perfect Time

 





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