We’re excited to share some big news for any company that wants to build an investment app in Latin America. We are introducing Mentum, the first and only investment API for Latin America. We’ve closed a $4.2M seed round of funding led by Google’s Gradient Ventures and top fintech founders, and we’re preparing to launch in 4 markets.
Through our API, we want to help companies in Latin America offer investment services in a fully digital way using just a few lines of code. Over the past months, we have created the infrastructure that will enable companies like digital banks, super-apps, local banks, insurance companies, and retailers to offer modern wealth management experiences to their users. We’re already live in Colombia and Chile.
As Latin Americans living in the US, we’ve immersed ourselves in retail investing—from trading to sustainable investing and tax-loss harvesting, to retirement funds and micro-investments. After years of working at top tech and finance companies, our founding team realized that we could bring these types of apps to people across Latin America. We just needed to make it as easy as setting up a web page. When we examined today’s options in the different countries of Latin America where we grew up, we could only find a handful of up-and-coming alternatives that allowed us to invest our money in capital markets. We quickly understood that the lack of access to retail investing in the region was a symptom of the poor incentives that incumbent investment institutions had for reaching the mass market.
For too long, wealth management in Latin America was only accessible to the top 2% of the population, while the mass market was incentivized to spend and get indebted with multiple credit options. The very few retail investors in Latin America are either exposed to cash equivalents (illiquid Certificate of Deposits or low-yield savings accounts) or bricks (tangible investments like real estate). As an example, in 2018, Brazil’s pension funds portfolios had a staggering 74% allocation in short-term fixed income, while in Chile, real estate represented 55% of the alternative assets of local pension funds. As a reference, in the same year, fixed income and real estate as asset allocations for State and Local Pensions in the US represented 22.5% and 8.4% respectively in its portfolio. In between cash equivalents and bricks, there is a whole spectrum of investment products and services that lack the distribution needed to reach the hundreds of millions of potential retail investors in Latin America.
At Mentum, we are firm believers that the right solution for helping regional economic development can start from the wide spectrum of products that already exist in each of the countries (versus trying to offer investment products from a single country or stock market). We are believers in local investment products and local currencies, as they are easy to understand and a great first step into the world of investing.
After talking to multiple incumbent institutions, fintech founders, and broker-dealers, we understood that building a digital investment experience in Latin America is not easy. The few companies that have built or embedded investments in Latin America to date have had to deal with a range of challenges, including balance sheet requirements and other regulations for each country they want to serve. To try to move faster, some have acquired existing investment institutions. But acquiring an investment institution requires the balance sheet of a Series C+ or publicly-traded company and demands a burdensome legal and regulatory process subject to approvals and bureaucratic timelines. Other companies have bet on partnerships with powerful incumbent investment institutions. Here, problems include the paperwork taking a year or more before getting to market, limited incumbent interest in smaller companies, plus additional product and infrastructure issues. Finally, each country in the region has its unique mix of regulations and existing institutions to deal with (which is why you see a variety of Latin American companies limit their focus to just a few markets in the region).
At Mentum, we are solving the legal and regulatory landscape in each country in Latin America where we operate for other companies, the technology implications, and the do's and don’ts of building great local and digital investment experiences that scale. Here is what we have built to help you get started:
- Legal infrastructure: companies that partner with Mentum can offer fully-digital experiences without needing a financial institution license or requiring official authorization from regulators.
- Tech infrastructure: We are innovating on technologies like micro frontends and widgets that allow companies to build highly customizable investment applications with only a few lines of code. With our technology infrastructure, companies can offer local stocks and mutual funds in a matter of weeks.
- A new revenue stream: By offering investments, we also signed deals with multiple local investment institutions to distribute investment products and offer monetization opportunities to the companies that partner with us.
Today, any Latin American startup or company that wants to work with us can contact us here to get started.
We have consolidated two strategic partnerships with investment institutions that have decades of wealth management experience in Colombia and Chile, allowing us to offer a wide variety of investment products. From local high-yield money market funds to international stocks, companies can build investment products tailored to their clients’ needs. We are starting with two fast-growing fintech partners that are building their investment services on top of our infrastructure and are in talks with 25+ companies in multiple countries and industries to help them offer investment services digitally. To accelerate our growth, we’ve raised $4.2M in seed financing led by Google’s Gradient Ventures, and with participation from Global Founders Capital, TwentyTwo VC, Soma Capital, Y Combinator, and the Co-Founders of Plaid and Jeeves. Behind the curtains, we are a global team of engineers and operators who worked at companies like BlackRock, Wish, Apple, Confluent, IBM, and CI&T, building robust trading, payments, and data-streaming systems.
In the words of Gabriel Garcia Marquez during his Nobel Prize in Literature acceptance speech, “Latin America neither wants, nor has any reason, to be a pawn without a will of its own.” The region’s will to come out of the solitude it has long endured from economic and technological advances is so strong that the continent will eventually progress from being a spending machine to a wealth generation hub. At Mentum, we are building the tools and infrastructure that current and future Latin American fintech pioneers will use to help make this a reality. Join us on our journey and let’s start building a better Latin America!
Founded in 2021, Mentum enables companies in Latin America to offer investment services digitally. With Mentum’s APIs and widgets, companies can integrate account creation, multi-currency deposits and withdrawals, and investment management into their product. Mentum is backed by Gradient Ventures, Global Founders Capital, Y Combinator, and other top-tier investors from Silicon Valley, Europe, and Latin America.