Mobile Payment Startup Stripe Moves into Mexico Following Launch of CoDi, Amazon’s Struggle to Compete with eCommerce Giant MercadoLibre in Brazil, and more from Latin America
Other featured stories include: 50,000 Brazilians Will Receive a Basic Income through Implementation of New Program in City of Maricá, MUY Closes US $15M Series B Led by ALLVP, and Santander CFO Cantera Discusses Cost Cuts, Latin America Growth, and more…
Mobile Payment Startup Stripe Moves into Mexico Following Launch of CoDi
Mobile payment startup Stripe Inc. launched operations in Mexico, just three weeks after the launch of central bank-backed system CoDi was introduced. General distrust of established banks is high among the Mexican population, and remains one of the key obstacles to widespread adoption of CoDi.
San Francisco-based Stripe differentiates itself from CoDi by allowing users can make and take payments worldwide.
John Collison, Stripe Co-Founder, told Bloomberg,
“We will make life simple, whatever the payment systems are required… You can just go back to building your business.”
CoDi, used by companies such as Uber Technologies Inc., was rolled out in conjunction with a group of Mexico’s largest banks. The system is best thought of as “the infrastructure upon which established banks can build their own payment applications using QR code technology.” Stripe aims to market its services throughout Mexico (Bloomberg).
Stripe says that it’s eager to listen to users to see if there is adequate demand for adding CoDi as a payment system on the Stripe platform.
Eduardo Serrano, the head of Stripe’s Mexico office, stated,
“We’re excited about any initiative that will help internet companies in Mexico reach more customers and grow more quickly… We’re certainly open to adding CoDi as a payment option as we expand our presence in Mexico.”
Amazon’s Struggle to Compete with eCommerce Giant MercadoLibre in Brazil
Seven years after entering Brazil, Amazon hopes to gain traction against a few established local competitors, who have extensive delivery networks, strong brands and a deep understanding of the Brazilian consumer base.
As reported by Bloomberg,
“When Amazon.com Inc. announced it was rolling out its popular Prime delivery subscription service in Brazil last month, shares of local e-commerce competitors tanked.”
With two distribution centers and a more limited selection than its Brazilian counterparts, Amazon has not been able to fully compete with MercadoLibre Inc. and Magazine Luiza SA.
In an effort to gain traction, Amazon has chosen to lure in customers with Prime services. The company is betting that if Brazilians get hooked on Alexa and Prime’s entertainment offerings—tailored for local consumption—they will start shopping on Amazon, too.
RBC Capital Markets Analyst Mark Mahaney stated,
“It’s an important market for them to succeed… It’s one that they recently made a major initiative into, and it’s a bit of a test on how globally receptive consumers are to Amazon’s value proposition” (Bloomberg).
Mahaney told Bloomberg that Brazil is probably Amazon’s second-most important international outpost. According to Nielsen’s e-commerce researcher Ebit, mobile shopping represents 43% of online purchases, compared with 5% five years ago.
Amazon is becoming increasingly reliant upon its international operations - which last year generated 28% of revenue - to help mitigate slowing sales growth in the domestic market.
On Thursday, Amazon posted its first year-over-year quarterly profit decline since early 2017 after acknowledging that it was spending more than expected on an ambitious effort to speed up deliveries (Bloomberg).
In Brazil, the largest—and only pure e-commerce player—is MercadoLibre.
“If you talk to any company that delivers all over Brazil, it has a network that it developed with a series of partners… We’ve nailed it.” says Chief Operating Officer Stelleo Tolda.
According to Bloomberg, MercadoLibre plans to spend more than $3 billion Reais (USD $748 million) next year on financial services and opening more distribution centers that will let it expand next-day delivery to at least 16 cities.
Amazon doesn’t need to dominate Brazilian e-commerce to succeed in Brazil. According to Euromonitor International, online spending is anticipated to grow 87% to $128.7 billion Reais by 2023, meaning Amazon could generate new international revenue, even if it doesn’t take share from local rivals.
As long as spending continues to shift away from stores towards websites and smartphones, the company stands to benefit simply by being a viable option.
In August, Amazon’s Brazil Country Manager Alex Szapiro suggested little urgency.
“We’re in no hurry… what happens in the United States today took 25 years. We want to do it fast, but doing it right is more important than doing it fast.”
50,000 Brazilians Will Receive a Basic Income through Implementation of New Program in City of Maricá
In the small city of Maricá, a suburb of Rio de Janeiro, roughly 52,000 people are set to receive a basic income; set at roughly three-quarters of the national poverty line as part of a major new program to test basic income policies.
The benefit, called the Renda Básica de Cidadania (Citizens’ Basic Income), is worth $130 Reais per person per month. According to recent OECD data, this represents about US $64 per month.
Photo Courtesy of Vox
As reported by Vox, Brazil’s nation’s poverty line is at $178 Reais a month, and the minimum monthly wage for a full-time job is $998 Reais; a family of four, each getting $130 reais each per month, would end up getting over half a minimum salary from the program.
This means that many Brazilian families living just below the poverty line will be lifted above it. As of November, nearly half the eligible individuals will be enrolled, and enrollment is expected to be complete by early 2020.
The Maricá program stands out for a few reasons. Primarily, this is not a pilot program, as is the case with other basic income programs. The Márica program it’s a policy being adopted across the entire municipality, meaning that everyone who has lived in Maricá for at least three years and with low-enough income to qualify (well above Brazil’s minimum wage) is eligible to receive the benefit. Consequently, the scale is considerably larger in comparison to the criteria of pilot programs.
According to Vox, Finland’s pilot involved about 2,000 people; about 26,000 people total got aid through the Kenya pilot; meanwhile 52,000 people are receiving aid through the Maricá program.
An important element of the Maricá basic income is that it doesn’t distribute reais, but instead distributes the local currency, mumbuca. Issued by the Banco Mumbuca in Márica, mumbica can only be used locally.
The city has offered an extremely small basic payment — about 10 mumbucas, or 10 reais, per month per person — to its poorest residents for a few years now, but this new program is a dramatic expansion of that initiative.
MUY Closes US $15M Series B Led by ALLVP
Colombian foodtech MUY recently closed a Series B round, led by ALLVP. This recent round brings MUY’s total funding to $20.5 million USD.
MUY calls itself a “virtual kitchen” and “smart chef system”. The company leverages AI to create food based on predicted demand and optimizes internal processes within the restaurant, allowing customers to place personalized orders through the app, or at one of its 20 physical dining locations (Contxto).
Although the company currently only operates in Colombia, the foodtech serves over 200,000 dishes a month, according to founder José Calderón.This recent capital infusion will go towards expanding the cloud kitchen trend into Mexico and eventually Brazil.
Calderón believes cloud kitchens will become the future of on-demand dining, which will make delivery more efficient in highly-populated cities. Calderón, who also co-founded Domicilios.com, helped the Colombian company raise US$47.7 million before he exited to Delivery Hero.
In recent email correspondence, Fernando Lelo de Larrea, a managing partner from ALLVP, stated
“We are thrilled to join one of the best teams in Colombia as they seize one of the largest opportunities in the region… Software is eating the foodservice industry globally and MUY is leading this phenomenon in the Latin American region” (Contxto).
Seaya Ventures also joined ALLVP as a follow-on investor.
Video: Santander CFO Cantera on Cost Cuts, Latin America Growth, Europe
Banco Santander SA Chief Financial Officer Jose Garcia Cantera discusses cost cuts and the impact of European Central Bank policy on the region’s financial firms. He speaks after the Spanish lender reported quarterly results which reinforced the bank’s dependence on a thriving Latin American business as it continues to struggle in Europe. Cantera speaks on “Bloomberg Daybreak: Europe.” (Source: Bloomberg)