Ualá is an application that created a shock in the world of banks. Created by Pierpaolo Barbieri, an Argentine businessman from 34 years who studied History and Economics at Harvard, this Friday he became the 10th Argentine unicorn to pass one billion dollars. But, What is Ualá?
It is a personal financial management mobile application that is linked to a prepaid card (not credit or debit) that can be used in all merchants and websites that accept Mastercard, inside and outside Argentina.
As the card is prepaid, it allows money to be added from a bank account or cash through Easy Payment. Allows you to withdraw cash through ATMs the Banelco network and Link twice a month at no cost.
To register, as a security measure, Ualá asks for a selfie and an official document (ID or DNI). In addition, Ualá allows you to track expenses as applications such as Monefy, program to track personal finances.
Pierpaolo Barbieri, founder of Ualá. Photo Ualá
The difference with respect to more traditional services such as banks is that Ualá always put simplicity first: the registration process is in a couple of taps, swipes or clicks. “There is no charge for opening, maintenance, closing or renewal… and for life ”, its founder was tired of repeating over and over again.
In fact, if the user loses or their card is stolen, from their cell phone they can “freeze”The bill: no phone call is needed.
This simplicity, in fact, was what pushed many banks to try to imitate this registration process. To apply for UALA you have to download the App. And with the UALA application you can see your available balance, transactions, purchases and monthly consumption, view and make transfers to any bank or virtual account, and more options.
How the card works
Ualá has a prepaid Mastercard card. Photo Ualá
To use your UALA prepaid Mastercard it is necessary to have a balance, because it is a prepaid card: it is not a credit card and it is not a debit card.
The prepaid card is a rechargeable card, a means of payment can be used if and only if you have a balance. Every time a payment is made, that amount is deducted from the balance, and if the balance of the card is not enough, the operation is rejected.
How is it regulated?
Central Bank of the Argentine Republic. Photo David Fernandez
Ualá Ualá is within the category of “fintech”: “The term ‘Fintech’ is born from the union of the words Finance and Technology in English. The sense of the union of both words is generated because Fintech companies seek to offer people various financial services taking advantage of technology and, therefore, making them products and services offered are more accessible, so that more people can have them and more comfortable so that people can use them more easily ”, they explain from the official site.
How is it regulated by the BCRA? This is one of the most frequently asked questions. According to the current regulations of the Central Bank of the Argentine Republic, Ualá is a Payment Service Provider, and a fundamental difference is that it does not lend deposits from its users.
“It is not authorized by him to operate as a financial entity (as a bank or as a financial company) under the terms of Law No. 21,526. Therefore the funds deposited in the payment accounts do not constitute deposits in a regulated financial institution and they do not have the guarantees of deposits in financial entities ”, they explain.
The investment that turned her into a unicorn
Ualá, in New York: the company on the traditional Nasdaq screen. Photo Twitter
Ualá starred in two milestones this Friday by announcing a new injection of $ 350 million from investors.
On the one hand, the amount of the investment makes the company reach a valuation of 2.45 billion dollars, as reported, which makes her a new “unicorn” 4 years after her birth, in October 2017. Unicorns are fast-growing firms whose capitalization manages to exceed US $ 1 billion.
Second, it represents the largest private investment round that an Argentine company has received.
The injection of funds was led by the Chinese company Tencent and by Softbank. And it again received investments from George Soros, Goldman Sachs, Ribbit Capital, Greyhound Capital, Monashees and Endeavor Catalyst, who had previously supported Ualá.
New funds were also added in this round, such as D1 Capital Partners and 166 2nd along with angel investors like Jacqueline Reses and Isaac Lee.
“Being a unicorn or not doesn’t really matter. Nothing changes when the US $ 1 billion valuation threshold is passed. The important thing is to create the best team of collaborators. We have 14 nationalities in Ualá and in 35 cities in more than 6 countries. “Barbieri assured in a press conference.
About 22% of Argentines between 18 and 25 have a Ualá card, according to the company.