Virtual card fintech raises $3M to extend reach in Latin America, Caribbean

by Loraine Lawson

(Reprinted with permission from Bank Automation News. Original article published on June 24, 2021 and can be viewed here.)

Digital card payment platform provider Moca announced Tuesday a $3 million series B funding round that will allow the platform to expand its foothold in Latin America and the Caribbean. The end-to-end solution is both a gateway to Visa and the card management system — functions that are typically handled by different vendors.

The investment round was led by Woodforest Financial Group, parent company of the Woodlands, Texas-based Woodforest National Bank. The group recognized that Moca’s platform could benefit community banks and credit unions, said Andrew Paur, executive vice president and chief operating officer at the $9.8 billion Woodforest National Bank, in a statement.

“Today’s account holders demand advanced and flexible ways to handle their money,” Paur said in the release, adding that Moca’s “management team’s deep and successful experience developing and selling products to community financial institutions was also a significant factor in our investment decision.”

A white-label cloud-based solution, Moca uses APIs to integrate with a bank’s core, Moca CEO John Burns told Bank Automation News. The integration allows the platform to automate customer identification based on a few details, such as the last four digits of a Social Security number or a birthdate.

Moca piloted its platform in May with the San Juan, Puerto Rico-based Alliance Capital International Bank, offering debit and gift cards to customers throughout Latin America and the Caribbean. Alliance and Moca plan to roll out virtual credit cards across the region later this year, Burns said.

The pilot has been a success: After six weeks, 90% of the customer base at Alliance Capital International Bank has opted into the virtual card program, Paul Ortega, director of technology at the bank, told BAN. However, it took three years for Visa to approve the pilot, he told BAN.

The fintech partnership means customers can deal in U.S. currency while still spending locally without converting their money, Ortega said. That appeals to customers in Latin America, where the currencies can be volatile.

“Latin American people, they’re always trying to protect their money because there is a lot of instability, politically and economically,” Ortega said. “So when you have your funds in local banks, you have your funds in local currency, which one day can be 50% less of what you had the day before.”

The virtual cards also solve another problem the bank has experienced: Getting cards into the hands of customers. Physical cards often disappeared or were stolen from the mail, Ortega said. In addition, the cards give customers a secure alternative to cash, he added.

Alliance Capital International Bank was also sold on Moca’s payment option, which charges based on what the bank makes, rather than charging the bank whether or not the cards are used. And Ortega likes that Moca has handled all the related IT infrastructure and support.

“I don’t want to deal with Visa, with a customer call center, and with a technological team; that is not our business,” Ortega said. “Our business is to open an account and to lend money.”