Bloomberg Línea — Dock, a Brazilian technology platform for payments and banking services, has become the second Latin American company to surpass the one-billion-dollar valuation in a week after it announced on Thursday that it raised $110 million in growth capital.
The round was led by Lightrock, a global private equity platform, with Silver Lake Waterman, part of Silver Lake, a global technology investment firm.
They were joined by existing investors Riverwood Capital, Viking Global Investors, and Sunley House Capital.
The round lifts the company valuation to $1.5 billion.
Despite having achieved unicorn valuation, Dock’s CEO and founder Antonio Soares is reluctant to give the company that label.
“As a 20-year-old company that has been transformed over the last eight years, we consider that its path is different from those traditionally called unicorns,” he told Bloomberg Línea in an interview.
“During this period, Dock has accumulated several lessons learned from the startup market, and from current unicorns, but has come along a different path,” he says.
Earlier this week, Habi, a Colombia-based proptech startup, became that country’s second unicorn. According to data from Bloomberg Línea and Distrito, Latin America now has at least 44 unicorns - counting those that have been acquired and have already undergone IPOs but which reached billion-dollar valuation when they were still private.
Dock’s idea is to deliver financial products to companies, from banks, to fintechs and other industries.
Dock was founded 20 years ago as Conductor, by Soares, an entrepreneur who was already active in the corporate market with retailers and consultancies.
“At a certain point in my forties, I decided to literally drop everything and went into a company called Conductor. We bought 100% of the company and that’s when Dock was born,” Soares says.
The Conductor acquisition was made with Riverwood Capital.
In Brazil, the company operates by acquiring and issuing cards and is now taking this to other Latin American countries, with digital account and banking services for client companies to be “their own bank”. This works with Dock’s own license to issue cards or the client’s own license.
In Latin America, the company already has more than 300 clients and more than 65 million active accounts.
No Transaction Fees
Soares explains that the fintech does not charge a transaction fee because it is a technology provider. “We charge for the technology. If you transact 10 reais, 10 pesos, or $10, for us it is the same. We charge a fixed fee for the transaction”.
This fee is related to scale, that is, the more transactions the client carries out, the less they pay, according to the CEO. “In the beginning, we were questioned if we were not leaving money on the table. I like to look back because that discussion was tough, but we believed that this was a more sustainable way to maintain the relationship with the client”, he explains.
In Brazil, Dock operates with the license of a payments institution (as does Nubank) and bought a company that makes it a direct participant in Brazil’s instant payments system Pix’s payment arrangement. “We now make it possible for various companies to have Pix indirectly on top of our license,” Soares explains.
Dock was already a non-regulated payment institution but obtained Central Bank regulation after it bought the BPP company. “The Central Bank approved the exchange of control [of the license] from BPP to Dock”, Soares says.
It was also through an acquisition that the company arrived in Mexico, with the purchase of Cacao, a company that had the same business model in the country. Soares does not rule out new acquisitions this year. In 2020, the year the company raised $170 million, Reuters reported that Conductor was preparing for an IPO.
At the end of March this year, Soares told Bloomberg Línea that the company did not intend to go public.
“IPO for us is a consequence, we understand the responsibility with our shareholders even though we are a privately held company. The IPO is one of the ways to raise capital for the company. I as CEO will always be looking at what is the best way to raise capital,” he said.
In addition to its credit card, Dock also has a buy now, pay later solution and is working on cryptocurrency initiatives. The company wants to reach the figure of one billion accounts.
Dock also has its own early-stage acquirer in Brazil. “We will help our clients who need an acquiring solution, the intention is not to be a traditional acquirer,” Soares said. “Payment is present in everything we do today and we have created a technology that enables any company to have the same service”.
Last year Dock grew 55%, with an average growth rate of 45% in recent years.
Expansion Across Latin America
The company already has a presence in Peru and Colombia, thanks to organic growth, but Soares says that Latin America has a very large banking concentration and the company wants to accelerate to replicate its success in Brazil in Spanish-speaking Latin American countries.
Now the company has a country manager in Colombia and an office in Mexico, to drive its acceleration in the region.
The fintech offers a cloud-based solution and embeds APIs in its platform.
“We have a global product which is a current account, debit cards, credit cards, and which is the same in all countries,” Soares says.
Dock’s business model is geared towards client companies also engaged in regional expansion, he says.
“We democratize means of payment and technology so that any company can enter this segment. We are enabling companies to operate in other countries through us. There is a client of ours from Mexico that is coming to Brazil and from Brazil going to other countries, using Dock as an accelerator,” he explains.