Brazilian banking-as-a-service startup QI Tech has raised $200 million in a Series B round of funding led by New York-based General Atlantic. The raise is believed to be the largest in Brazil — across all industries — this year so far, according to Crunchbase.
Founded in 2018 by Pedro Mac Dowell, Marcelo Bentivoglio and Marcelo Buosi, QI Tech is an infrastructure platform enabling the development of credit, payment, and banking solutions through a modular API. It also holds a Direct Credit Society (SCD) license. In Brazil, an SCD is a type of national bank charter but with some limitations, as explained by CEO Mac Dowell. (QI Tech claims to be the first SCD approved by the Brazilian Central Bank.)
Essentially, QI Tech allows any company to act like a bank and offer financial products to its customers, employees or suppliers. For example, if a telecom company decides to offer payroll loans to its employees, “the telecom could partner with QI and act like a bank,” Mac Dowell said.
Specifically, QI Tech’s offering provides digital registration tools, data validation, credit scoring, digital account opening, wire transfers, Pix, bank slips and credit underwriting for various sectors of the economy. It also powers a variety of use cases, including buy-now pay-later by e-commerce clients or the issuance of home equity and student loans by asset managers and fintechs.
“Our key differentiators are the technology and the combination of features that create a ‘one-stop-shop’ solution,” Mac Dowell wrote via email. “The technology is seamless, any developer can create digital accounts, make payments or issue loans in just a few integration steps, like Stripe, but for more complex financial products. In Brazil (or even in the U.S.), there’s no such tech company that can offer the complete suite of features. Fintechs often rely on bank partnerships to create their product offering, and banks usually have limited capabilities with modern modular technology. QI Tech created a solution that is the best of the two worlds: a tech company that holds the bank license.”
The new raise brings the São Paulo-based startup’s total venture capital raised since its 2018 inception to $262 million. QI Tech, which claims to have been profitable since its first year of operation, bootstrapped from December 2018 until November 2021, when it raised $50 million in a Series A round of funding led by the Sovereign Investment Fund of Singapore (GIC). Across Capital, which put $12 million in the company in October 2022, doubled its investment in QI Tech in the latest financing. The company declined to reveal its current valuation.
“Since the beginning, we aimed for scalability and profitability, a strategy that was not very well seen but turned out to be the new way,” Bentivoglio wrote via e-mail. “We kept strong on our main beliefs that a company can build highly scalable products with great cash generation (even in the first phase).”
During the first half of 2023, the company reported $21.2 million in net revenues, an increase of 89% compared to the same period of 2022. Its more than 300 customers include Shopee, Vivo Telefonica and 99 (Didi). The company charges its customers via a pay-as-you-go model. Customers pay a fixed fee for every transaction they process using QI Tech APIs.
The company currently has 120 employees, up from 50 a year ago.
QI Tech plans to use the new capital toward exploring “strategic M&A opportunities” and an “aggressive growth strategy.”
“We aim to accelerate growth through acquisitions, and the capital will be used to finance a few transactions that can help increase our product offering or consolidate a vertical presence,” Mac Dowell said. In December of 2021, QI Tech acquired Zaig, a startup focused on providing KYC, AML, Antifraud and Credit Scoring engines. And, earlier this year, QI Tech acquired Builders Bank, a banking application development startup. It also plans to use the money toward its lending-as-a-service business, and developing recent verticals, such as its banking-as-a-service segment (white-label banking and transaction experience, including digital accounts and card issuance) and the QI DTVM, the broker dealer license through which QI Tech can offer administration and custody services to investments funds.
Luiz Ribeiro, managing director and co-head of General Atlantic’s Brazilian office, said his firm has tracked QI Tech for several years and is impressed “by the vision of the leadership team.”
“We have been closely monitoring the financial markets infrastructure in Brazil for years, and QI Tech’s platform is one of the most compelling in the space. The company has grown substantially (and profitably) in recent years and is continuing to benefit from market tailwinds, including increased adoption of embedded finance and a growing appetite for digital payments and credit products in the country,” he wrote via email. “In addition to secular trends, QI Tech remains dedicated to providing customers with relevant, high-quality products – evidenced by high customer satisfaction rates. We’ve been impressed by the leadership team, their execution skills and forward vision – all of which allows them to establish and sustain a strong position in the market.”
Brazil has been home to a number of successful fintech companies. Nubank has grown to be a $35 billion-plus digital bank that offers credit cards, checking accounts and life insurance to consumers. And, in late June, credit card giant Visa announced it was acquiring Brazilian payments infrastructure startup Pismo for $1 billion in cash in what is likely to be one of the largest fintech M&A deals taking place this year.
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