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Naspers’s Prosus leads R246m investment in Mexican digital bank

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Naspers’s Internet asset division Prosus Ventures has announced its first investment in Mexico, leading a $15 million (R246 million) Series A funding round in Klar, a leading challenger bank in Mexico.

Prosus Ventures is the early-stage venture investing arm of Prosus, the global consumer Internet group and one of the largest technology investors in the world.

Klar is a 100% digital alternative to traditional debit and credit services in Mexico.

In a statement, Prosus says the Series A funding included participation from new investor International Finance Corporation (IFC) and former investors Quona Capital, which led Klar’s seed round, Mouro Capital (formerly Santander Innoventures) and aCrew.

It notes the round brings the total debt and equity funds raised to approximately $72 million since Klar was founded in 2019.

“Prosus Ventures partners with entrepreneurs that are solving big societal problems with technology, in a uniquely local way,” says Banafsheh Fathieh, Prosus Ventures principal, who led the investment for the firm.

“We invest in sectors of the economy where technology can lead to meaningful change in the lives of consumers. Klar has identified a massive need in the Mexican financial market and brings a unique solution through their credit and debit offering.”

Fathieh adds that in less than a year, the Klar team has shown an ability to build a world-class digital bank for the masses, one focused on financial access and inclusion. “We are very excited to partner with them on that mission.”

According to Prosus, aging, archaic architecture has made it difficult for traditional banks to serve the needs of the growing middle class in Mexico, with a mere 10% of adults in the country owning credit cards.

“We’ve built a new banking infrastructure core that aligns with the financial needs of consumers and allows us to service a massive segment of the population in Mexico that has previously been left behind when it comes to financial services,” says Stefan Moller, Klar’s co-founder and CEO.

He points out that Klar’s significantly lower cost of technology is what allows it to offer premium products to segments under- or un-served by traditional banks.

Alongside Prosus Ventures, IFC joined the round. According to Leila Search, of IFC’s FinTech Investments Group: “Since more than half of Mexicans don’t have a basic bank account, financial access is going to be the main battle for Mexico over the coming years. We know Klar will be an inspiring contributor to it.”

The funds will be put to use to grow Klar’s engineering capabilities in both its Berlin and Mexico hubs in order to expand the company’s product suite to help users manage their liquidity with simple, transparent and affordable credit products.

“Klar is making credit accessible to all Mexicans, including those with no credit history,” explains Daniel Autrique, Klar’s co-founder and CFO.

“We help people build credit by looking at how and where they spend their money, instead of being stuck with traditional credit scores that are backward-looking and obsolete.”

Prosus notes Klar’s business has experienced rapid growth, having issued over 25 000 credit lines among its 200 000 customers in less than 12 months since inception.

Moreover, it notes, the business has shown significant resiliency to the COVID-19 crisis, as growth has tripled during the pandemic.

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