By Aluisio Alves
SAO PAULO (Reuters) – The unique biometrics company announced this Tuesday that it received a contribution of 625 million reais in a round led by General Atlantic and SoftBank funds, becoming the new Brazilian example of unicorn, market jargon for startups valued at at least $1 billion.
The announcement, almost 11 months after unico received another round of 580 million reais also led by General Atlantic and SoftBank, illustrates the rapid expansion of demand for biometrics for uses as diverse as opening accounts to remote classes, a movement accentuated by social isolation measures.
Created in 2007 and headquartered in São Paulo, unico, formerly known as Acesso Digital, has grown driven by companies that have also taken off in the online environment. Currently, the company has around 800 client companies, including Magazine Luiza, Pernambucanas, C6Bank, Banco Original and B2W.
With the soaring demand for digital identification, unico also accelerated the pace with acquisitions. In 2020, it bought the image analysis startup from Rio Grande do Sul, Meerkat. This year, it acquired Vianuvem and CredDefense, specialized in biometrics for vehicle trade. It also helped triple its headcount to around 700.
According to Diego Martins, founder and president of unico, the funds from the contribution will be used for the company to expand the development of proprietary technology and for acquisitions.
“The new investment will make our M&A (mergers and acquisitions) machine more consolidated,” said Martins in an interview with Reuters, adding that he is also setting up a group to detect possibilities for expansion abroad.
According to the partner of SoftBank Latin America Fund, Paulo Passoni, a biometric identification service with a high degree of assertiveness like that of unico is a difficult business to build.
“Unico’s ecosystem makes the company a barn of innovation inside and outside Brazil,” said Passoni.
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