(Bloomberg) -- Brazilian payments company Ebanx Ltda, which operates in 18 countries in Latin America and Africa, will begin doing business in India by the end of the year as part of its global expansion to developing countries.
Ebanx, which counts Advent International LP and FTV Capital among backers, will soon begin allowing global merchants to process payments through its platform including India’s booming Unified Payments Interface in one of its biggest bets yet on large emerging markets.
“It’s in the center of our vision to expand into emerging markets — we call them rising markets — and connect them to global commerce,” Chief Executive Officer and co-founder Joao Del Valle said in an interview. “Our merchants in the US, Europe and China have demand for India, they have businesses there and they need support.”
Since its founding in 2012, Curitiba-based Ebanx has focused on cross-border transactions for clients like Spotify Technology SA, Airbnb Inc. and Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. It has grown into a leading player in Brazil’s own central bank-controlled instant payments platform known as PIX, which is used more than credit cards now in Latin America’s largest economy.
Expanding to India gives the company a presence in a country where 22% of the population of nearly 1.4 billion people currently uses the UPI platform, according to Ebanx. UPI will process about 1 billion transaction a day by the end of the year.
Ebanx aims to give merchants the flexibility to process payments in whatever methods their consumers prefer via a single platform, said Paula Bellizia, president of global payments.
“When we talk about rising markets, we talk about all kinds of payment methods that are preferred by the consumers,” she said.
The executives declined to comment on which multinational merchants will sign on initially as well as on who will run the India operation and the size of the team that will be based in Mumbai. Investments will be “relevant” as they’ll need servers on the ground.
Founded by a trio of Brazilians from legal, finance and technology backgrounds, Ebanx focuses on payments in areas like e-commerce, gaming, streaming, digital ads and online travel booking for companies including Sony Group Corp., Uber Technologies Inc., SheIn Group Ltd. and Shopee Co Ltd.
It doesn’t disclose the amount of annual payments processed. In 2022 the figure increased by 44% from a year earlier, the company said. Back in 2020, it had a payment volume of $3.5 billion across 150 million transactions.
In 2021, Advent invested $430 million in the startup for a minority stake, including funds to assist with an initial public offering in the US. A confidential IPO filing later that year was set to value the company at about $10 billion, according to people familiar with the matter. Ebanx postponed the listing last year.
Reviving that plan is not a focus for now, said Del Valle, “but it’s definitely a very well considered milestone” in a range of one to three years.
As headwinds struck the tech industry in the past 18 months, Ebanx did some “belt tightening,” scrapped some projects and cut headcount to 800 from 1,300, Del Valle said. Investments come from its normal working capital and they haven’t tapped new investors or taken on debt, he said.
Co-founders Alphonse Voigt and Wagner Ruiz have left executive roles and are now chairman and a member of the board, respectively.
Last year, the payments firm made its foray out of Latin America by expanding into South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria while hiring Wiza Jalakasi as its head for Africa. The firm is expanding into eight additional countries there.
“Credit cards are not super relevant there, penetration is very low except for one or two countries so alternative payment methods, especially mobile, is a must,” Del Valle said. “As European or American merchants are used to credit cards, when they go to these countries, they need a partner to enable like 90% of the population to pay.”
In the home market of Latin America, Brazil continues to be the gateway for global merchants, including Chinese retailers, to enter the region and Mexico continues to grow well, including through a partnership with Femsa at their Oxxo stores. Argentina has been “unstable” given the economy, Del Valle said.
The firm has also invested in C-level talent to fill out executive positions. Bellizia was hired last year from a marketing role at Google. The firm recently hired Valerio Zarro as VP of governance, risk and compliance from iFood, Fabio Scopeta from Microsoft as chief product and technology officer and Melissa Cherrey Johnson from PayPal as VP of merchant success for the Americas and Europe.
“To say that Ebanx is becoming global, I think it’s shy to our footprint today,” Bellizia said. “We’ve been global and we are reinforcing our global position.”
(Updates with details on operations in India in eighth paragraph. A previous version corrected the number of countries in first paragraph and deck headline.)
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