By Riley Kaminer
6.47% in Brazil. 8.41% in Mexico. A whopping 83% in Argentina.
Inflation is no joke. It’s an international phenomenon that has a particularly acute effect on Latin American consumers.
On top of this economic uncertainty, more than two thirds of Latin Americans are under- or un-banked.
Miami startup Ping is on a mission to help. This company aims to simplify the process of global payments – while onboarding more Latin Americans to the world of crypto along the way. Ping announced yesterday that these efforts will be bolstered by a $15 million seed fundraise from investors including Y-Combinator, Race Capital, BlockTower, Danhua Capital, Signum Capital and Goat Capital.
At the helm of Ping is CEO and co-founder Pablo Orlando: a serial entrepreneur who previously co-founded Latamex, a platform that enables Latin American consumers to convert fiat into crypto, and e-Commerce platform Avenida.com.
Orlando built Ping on the rails of Latamex and with the help of sibling co-founder duo Mary and Jack Saracco. Mary brings her financial prowess to Ping, having worked at UBS and the World Bank; while Jack brings his experience as a crypto-native engineer. All three co-founders hail from Argentina.
With Ping, any individual or company can create a free account to receive US dollars, no matter whether these funds originate in a foreign currency or crypto. The platform, which launched four months ago, features a freelancer-friendly invoicing system – as well as the ability to buy and receive major cryptocurrencies. It is also available on mobile platforms and desktop. That’s crucial in a region where smartphone uptake continues to skyrocket.
“Ping is the perfect solution for freelancers to get paid and for gig economy platforms like Braintrust, freelancer.com, Upwork to offer to their users,’’ Orlando said in a statement.
“We established a platform that ultimately helps democratize access to higher paid jobs as a result of remote work,” Orlando continued. “Ping enables freelancers and contractors globally to see the possibility of earning in dollars and saving in an account in the USA as the highest possible dream.”
The Ping team signaled that this fundraise will go towards the expansion of their team, with an emphasis on marketing and sales roles.
Robin Chan, a general partner at Goat Capital, noted that Ping’s solution works particularly well for digital nomads – another increasing trend across Latin America. “Ping’s digital platform is the first of its kind for Latin America, and efficiently remedies ongoing payment issues with a mission to provide financial inclusivity on a global scale,” he said.
Mary Saracco told TechCrunch that Ping will launch a premium product in March, which will require a monthly subscription. The startup is also planning to start issuing Visa debit cards that work internationally. The team expressed excitement about its growth prospects, noting that it generated over $1 million in payment volume in just the first month of operations.
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