Zippi, a Brazilian fintech that came to market in 2021 with a credit solution via PIX (Brazil‘s real-time payment system) for micro-entrepreneurs and self-employed people, today announced a $16 million (about BRL 82 million) funding round. The Series A was led by US fund Tiger Global and followed by Y Combinator, Volpe Capital, Rainfall Ventures, Globo Ventures, Hummingbird, Mantis, MSA Capital, Soma Capital, and founders of companies such as Faire, Robinhood, Plaid, Creditas, Kavak, Cobli, and GoJek.
Behind Zippi are André Bernardes, Ludmila Pontremolez and Bruno Lucas. The three worked in Silicon Valley when they decided to join their expertise in the financial and technology market to become founders, with an eye on the growing instant payments industry. In an interview with LABS, Bernardes said that the idea of founding Zippi came when the trio realized that most of the financial products available on the market for micro-entrepreneurs are actually made for individuals, and not to meet the specific needs of people who, somehow, are also companies.
“What motivated us to create Zippi was the context of the micro-entrepreneur in Brazil: today 30% of the country’s workforce performs this way, that’s a contingent of 23 million Brazilians who have a very specific working day. The micro-entrepreneur is a person and a company at the same time. We saw a great opportunity because the financial products available to this public are not compatible with the needs of the micro-entrepreneur, but rather with the needs of consumers”, explained Bernardes, CEO of Zippi.
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Zippi’s target audience is broad and comes from many sectors, such as food, beauty, and retail, among others. According to Bernardes, the common element between all customers of fintech is that their working life is about buying and selling – there is a constant flow of payments, with recurring inflows and outflows.
It was not so difficult to add PIX to the solution: launched in November 2020, the instant payment system developed by Brazil‘s Central Bank has achieved such popularity that it has already surpassed the number of TEDs and DOCs (types of electronic transfer) made monthly and has reached a penetration rate higher than that of credit cards. Data from the Central Bank shows that 110 million people, more than half the Brazilian population, have already made a PIX transaction. Last March alone, 1.6 billion PIX transactions were made.
“And particularly in this informal economy that Zippi serves, PIX overnight became the favorite payment method for all these workers, because it digitized an economy that until then was very much cash-based,” Bernardes added.
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Credit via PIX
Zippi presents itself as a “credit & instant payment method”, which allows the micro-entrepreneurs to use the PIX to buy inputs for their business using a credit made available by the fintech. The solution provides the micro-entrepreneur access to the working capital needed to keep their operation while the supplier receives payment on time. Zippi’s customer has a 7-day deadline to pay the credit taken with the fintech, which gets a fee of 3% on each transaction.
Although it sounds like a Buy Now Pay Later product, Bernardes explains that Zippi’s operation is more like a credit card: the customer has access to a monthly credit limit and can use this amount to pay suppliers via PIX. All is done by Zippi’s app, by which the customer can monitor all transactions made, the credit used, and the remaining balance. By being integrated with the Central Bank API, Zippi’s interface can perform PIX for any bank.
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To launch its operation, Zippi got a debt round from Empírica; fintech does not disclose how much it raised, but, according to Bernardes, the debt round allows the startup to invest the resources of Series A in other areas. The newly raised capital will be invested primarily in the team, currently of 26 people, in product development, and expanding the operation.
Zippi reported a 78% month-over-month growth in 2022; the goal is to finish the year with a 10-fold growth. The fintech does not disclose absolute numbers of the operation, such as revenue, customer base, transacted volume, or average ticket, but, according to Bernardes, there are tens of thousands of customers and a long queue of new customers, with more than half a million requests.