We live in a world of instant gratification where we just want things to work the first time around. This is especially true when it comes to digital experiences, where a delay of mere seconds can seem like an eternity. Imagine this common scenario for a moment: You download a new financial app to take control of your savings and build a rainy day fund. The app needs to connect to your bank account to work properly, so you enter credentials for your financial institution. In a few seconds, the accounts are linked and you’re all set up. You go on with your life.
It sounds simple enough on paper, but that seamless integration between your bank and the latest financial services app is a modern luxury afforded to you by companies like Belvo. The fast-growing startup aggregates banking information from multiple sources and helps to connect the dots between institutions and consumers.
Belvo is often compared to Plaid in the United States, but there are two big differences to their model. First, the startup is exclusive to Latin America. Second, Belvo’s web of data stretches far beyond personal banking information—mostly because it has to. The financial landscape is much different in the region, especially when it comes to personal financial data. In order to serve consumers and clients appropriately, Belvo has to capture information that’s normally siloed and make sense of it all. At the moment, Belvo is connected not only to banking institutions, but also to fiscal and gig economy platforms.
“Belvo is turning the rich and diverse ecosystem of financial institutions in Latin America, to an API,” says Giuseppe Ciotta, Head of Engineering at Belvo. That ambitious mission is what led Giuseppe to Belvo in the first place. The Eventbrite alum knew he was going to be part of something special, and working directly with Belvo’s founders, as well as joining a world-class engineering team, made the decision to join the company easy.
The year-old startup was co-founded by Pablo Viguera and Oriol Tintoré who met each other at Verse, which is Europe’s version of Venmo. Oriol, a former NASA aerospace engineer and founder of Capella Space, found his way into digital banking while getting his MBA at Stanford.
“I was trying to develop my coding skills by building my own personal finance manager app that could reconcile accounts from the US and from Spain. I had no idea what an API was at the time, but digging in and learning was really interesting for me,” says Tintoré.
Oriol eventually ended up at Verse where he and Viguera explored how they could expand Verse to Latin America. In that process is where they uncovered the opportunity for Belvo.
“We realized the infrastructure that everyone needs to operate new financial services was completely missing in Latin America. Companies were struggling to access information from their users in order to provide credit assessment in their finances, accounting services, really any type of financial service that is part of the modern fintech ecosystem. These new applications require a lot of information that nobody can access in Mexico, Brazil, Colombia, or other Latin American countries” says Oriol.
With a mission to build out an easy-to-use fintech infrastructure for LATAM, the team at Belvo had to first seriously strategize how to build out their own infrastructure. After surveying the market, Ciotta and his team decided to partner with AWS to take advantage of the cloud provider’s vast regions and selection of managed services. “For us, the fact that our team can be located in Barcelona, but easily spin up and manage infrastructure in Sao Paulo, or anywhere else for that manner, is amazing,” says Ciotta. “Outside of the ability to serve our customers wherever they are, the team has really loved digging into the AWS managed services. We’re currently using north of 20, but lean heavily on Amazon Aurora and EKS to free up our time to focus on our customers.”
So what’s next for Belvo?
“In the next half a year and the next year, Belvo is going to be positioning itself as the open banking and open finance leader in the most important markets in Latin America,” says Oriol. “Not only will we be the go-to provider of aggregated financial information, but we’ll also be providing an added layer of intelligence by offering integrated analysis directly on the platform. And we are also building a new bank-to-bank payments platform on top of our data API. Imagine instant ACH all over Latin America, that’s huge. In the next five years, that’s when we want to have a complete market presence in every single country in Latin America,” says Oriol.
Those are big goals, but Belvo was created to solve a major challenge and there’s no signs of the company slowing down. The team secured a $10 million Series A led by Kaszek Ventures and Founders Fund in May of 2020, and is actively hiring, despite the difficulties all companies are currently facing. If you’re interested in joining the team, visit belvo.com/careers.