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Payments Briefing: ‘We penetrated the blue ocean opportunity of the Spanish-speaking market’ – NovoPayment’s Anabel Perez

  • This week, we take a look at Miami-based BaaS provider, NovoPayment.
  • We also discuss Bumped, a firm that rewards customers with equity in the brands they shop from.
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Payments Briefing: ‘We penetrated the blue ocean opportunity of the Spanish-speaking market’ – NovoPayment’s Anabel Perez

Banking as a service provider NovoPayment, which has been around since 2007, recently raised its first venture round in 15 years to scale its platform across the US, as well as internationally.

Headquartered in Miami, Florida, NovoPayment is an API-based platform that provides digital banking, payment and card solutions to banks, fintechs, merchants, and other service providers.

Since its launch back in 2007, NovoPayment has expanded to 14 markets across the Americas, including the US, Mexico, Panama, Colombia, Venezuela, Peru, Ecuador, and Chile, among others.

2021 was an important year for the firm, as it saw a 40% increase in client growth, including collaborations with major financial players such as Visa and Mastercard.

The firm’s co-founder and CEO, Anabel Perez, is a Venezuelan-born entrepreneur. Trained as a banker but a “techie at heart”, Anabel has more than 25 years of experience in banking and payments.

I spoke with Anabel to get some insight into why she created NovoPayment, the significance of Miami as a new fintech hub, and her plans for the firm’s future.

Can you share the story behind NovoPayment? How and why did you create it?

In all my years as a banking executive, it became abundantly clear to me that the future of financial services and payments was digital. This vision and its global implications led me to co-found NovoPayment around 15 years ago along with Oscar Garcia Mendoza, who now serves as chairman of our board.

Since the beginning, we’ve understood that fintech enablers are essential partners to financial and payment providers, reducing their technology gaps and accelerating the development of new fintech products. Connecting essential dots through tech enablement is how we’ve built and expanded NovoPayment across multiple markets.

What’s the significance of having NovoPayment’s headquarters in Miami? Why are Silicon Valley players moving there? And how does being based in the region help NovoPayment stand out from its competitors?

We’re proud to be early founders in Miami’s billion-dollar tech scene. It’s been a tremendous advantage to us because Miami is a well-known international gateway, especially across the Americas – the markets we set out to disrupt when first founding NovoPayment. Unlike other companies that are only now rushing into the LatAm region, we have a strong foothold in 14 countries across the Americas, including the US. Establishing those relationships, and understanding the nuances of each market, requires industry expertise and local knowledge that takes time to build. Our experience sets us apart from players new to LatAm or the US, and it positions us uniquely at the intersection of both to solve complex problems in a variety of markets.

Right now, companies are leaving Silicon Valley for Miami for a number of reasons, including lower taxes, weather, cultural diversity, and the city’s role as a global market connector. However, the real draw is our tech community, which we have been building since the early 2000s. Our ecosystem is one of the most supportive, driving friendly competition and inspiring innovation among its many entrepreneurs, new and established alike. Miami is finally getting the recognition it deserves as a major US tech hub, and I’m eager to help our community expand further. 

Why are American fintechs rushing to expand their services in Latin America?

The reason we’re seeing so many American fintechs heading to the LatAm market is the region’s significant need to build better financial infrastructure, which is a massive opportunity. We often hear about the large unbanked or underbanked population, but you also have to remember that most of these economies are still highly cash-reliant. What that means for fintechs is that there’s not only a tremendous opportunity to foster financial inclusion among the underbanked, but also a chance to modernize the existing financial ecosystem and improve access for everyone. Over $15 billion was invested in Latin American fintech last year, and the market will only continue to grow.

When NovoPayment was founded, we decided to penetrate the blue ocean opportunity of the Spanish-speaking market. We were intimately aware of the issues within the financial sector and the intricacies of traditional banking infrastructure. Our previous experience helped us foster strong relationships throughout the region, and it was due to those relationships that we were able to expand to so many different countries so quickly.

In 2021, only 2% of VC funding went to all-female founding teams or companies with Latinx founders. How did NovoPayment beat these odds? And what needs to happen in order to create more opportunities for female Latin American founders?

Our story is unique in the fact that we have been bootstrapped entirely, supported by a diverse and global portfolio of clients whose businesses rely on our platform. Finding the right investing partners who understood our business and shared our vision was at the center of our fundraise. In my career, I’ve always relied on a personal board of directors who were available to advise in any instance – we were looking for the same kind of relationship in our potential funding partners.

There’s a lot to learn from the Miami tech community that can make opportunities like ours more commonplace no matter the location: deep understanding and celebration of the Latino “American” mix of cultures; more women, specifically women of color, writing checks; greater Latin and Hispanic representation within venture capital; the list goes on.

Most importantly, Latin American founders can’t be boxed into a reductive idea of what a “Latin American” founder should be. Over the last decade, we’ve seen innovation explode from our very complex region, proving there isn’t one kind of Latin American founder or one kind of Latin American problem – Latina women have always been able to think out of the box in any environment. This curiosity, novel problem-solving, and drive are all qualities investors look for in any founder. Hopefully, as more stories like ours are heard, more Latina “American” entrepreneurs like me will be recognized for those qualities, and get funding from seed all the way to IPO.

Rewarding shoppers with brand ownership: How Bumped increases monthly spend at retailers

Brand loyalty is no longer simply tied to a good product. Firms seek deeper connections with individual customers to build retention and stickiness. This has created a world where brands not only want to ideologically align with consumers and facilitate their specific purchasing habits, but also reward them for their loyalty.

All sorts of methods have been tried and tested with rewards programs – like awarding points on purchases, or offering discounts on partner brands. Portland, Oregon-based Bumped took things one step further and built a network that rewards customers with equity in the brands they shop from. The firm likens this to “bringing Wall Street to Main Street”.

Functioning primarily as a B2B company, Bumped unlocks fractional stock ownership for end consumers. The firm works with brands and banks, leveraging their technology and brokerage to reward their customers in fractional shares of stock in their partners’ programs. For consumers, Bumped offers stock rewards for online shopping as a way to help them grow their fractional ownership and make the most of their Bumped brokerage accounts.

The Bumped network has now expanded to include a browser extension, which can be downloaded from the Chrome Web store. With the extension, shoppers are notified of every eligible purchase. The firm handles all of the stock purchasing, fractionalizing, and journaling associated with stock ownership.

Bumped sees its program as a natural evolution of loyalty programs. The firm traces early iterations of rewards programs to ancient Egypt, where consumers were awarded commodity tokens, most commonly for beer and bread.

Bumped operates with the philosophy that in today’s economy, ownership promotes repeat engagement – and a stake at a firm demotivates consumers from shopping at competitors, hence creating a new dimension of customer loyalty. 

“We’ve seen the evidence that access to ownership creates a mutually beneficial relationship between businesses and their customers – one that deepens loyalty while supporting customers’ long-term wealth goals,” Amy Dunn, SVP of marketing and communications at Bumped, told Tearsheet. “When a customer is rewarded in stock, we have found that on average they increase their monthly spend with the brand by 43%, visit 1.5 times more monthly, and spend an additional $51 a month, resulting in an overall 23x ROI for the cost of reward to the brand,” she said.

Bumped’s company data suggests the same. A survey revealed that 89% of users think ownership is more exciting than traditional rewards like points or cash back, and 65% of them have told their friends about a company because of a stock reward.

Highlights from our recent coverage

As Feds increase fintech scrutiny, experts outline a BNPL regulatory framework

After experiencing a meteoric rise in recent years, the BNPL industry is bracing itself for increased regulation in the US as government agencies are looking to widen their oversight into the fintech sector. With concerning signs regarding credit quality, risk intake and its effects on consumers, industry experts are advocating for more regulations and offer recommendations of what these could look like.

Q1 fintech earnings: stocks in the red, but growth prospects abound

Fintech stocks continue to dive in public markets as macroeconomic trends weighed on companies’ first quarter earnings, which came in below equity analysts’ expectations. We look at four major fintech players that reported their results – PayPal, Square, Robinhood and LendingClub – and outline the major takeaways from their Q1 earnings reports.

What we're reading

  • McKinsey on shifts and opportunities in card-based payments (McKinsey)
  • US Treasury rule could pave the way for on-demand wage payments (PYMNTS)
  • From partners to competitors: What Stripe’s latest move means for Plaid (TechCrunch)
  • How Klarna’s US payments innovations are going beyond BNPL (The Financial Brand)
  • PayPal helped spur EU antitrust complaint against Apple Pay (Bloomberg)
  • With Kard, banks and fintechs can build custom credit card rewards programs (TechCrunch)
  • MoneyGram defends itself against CFPB, New York AG attacks (Crowdfund Insider)
  • Experian to debut BNPL credit bureau (Finextra)
  • PayPal shares rise despite cut in annual profit view (Reuters)
  • PayPal’s blockchain chief on the future of crypto in payments (CoinDesk)

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