In the last year, we have seen a dramatic increase in startup success stories coming from Latin America, specifically in the fintech space. In May, Bitso, a crypto exchange startup in Mexico, raised a $250M Series C round, becoming the second Mexican unicorn and Latin America’s first crypto unicorn. More fintech startups have also joined Techstars accelerator programs, including Firmus Linxe (Colombia), MiBolsillo (Perú), and Nufi (México)—all of which recently joined the Techstars and Western Union 2021 Accelerator Class. This momentum has been shaped by a variety of factors such as a large market (650M people live in Latin America), an increase in internet penetration, and a new generation of consumers who expect their bank services to be friendlier and digital.
Fintech is growing rapidly with new offers for underserved markets that include digital banks, customizable insurance services, lending options for unbanked people, and more. But this is not enough. The reality is that COVID-19 has accelerated the consumption of digital products and services, not only in a national market but across the region; thus the need for financial services is greater than ever.
This is where Visa and Stellar Development Foundation have joined forces to provide entrepreneurs with tools to build innovative solutions tailored to the needs of the region.
Stellar is an open and decentralized network that connects the infrastructure of the global financial market, facilitating international payments instantly. Visa is the global leader in digital payments, enabling persons, businesses and economies, via their trustworthy and secure network. They have been working together since the beginning of the year to provide opportunities to use their resources together to create innovation in the fintech sector.
Techstars, believing that entrepreneurs can change the world, partnered with both institutions to bring together innovators in the region to build new solutions with blockchain technology during Techstars Startup Weekend Blockchain Latam.
The online event took place October 15-17 with 137 participants gathering from 15 different countries in the region, representing Mexico, Argentina, Colombia, Bolivia, Dominican Republic, and more—all of them interested in building solutions based on blockchain.
The focus of the Startup Weekend event was to gather entrepreneurs, finance professionals, developers, and enthusiasts of blockchain technology from all over Latin America to educate them on blockchain technology and build a new wave of startups to solve regional problems. The participants received the support of mentors from Mexico, the United States, Argentina, Spain, Perú, and more during the 3-day online event.
With experts from Visa, Stellar Development Foundation, Techstars, and the local startup community, 11 projects were created with blockchain technology during the course of the weekend. A panel of international judges selected three winning teams to receive further support from Visa and Techstars, plus a prize worth $6,000 of XLM value from the Stellar Development Foundation.
The winning projects will receive private mentorship hours with experts from both Visa and Techstars to refine their value proposition and business model, as well as guidance on how to use technology resources provided by Visa. Stellar Development Foundation is supporting the 1st place winner with $3K, 2nd place with $2K, and third place with $1K to help finance the team members in pursuing their projects.
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