Bloomberg Línea — Since leaving SoftBank in January, Bolivian entrepreneur and investor Marcelo Claure had been preparing the ground to invest in startups in Latin America with his own capital. Now that plan is starting to take shape. The former Chief Operating Officer (COO) of the Japanese conglomerate is the newest private investor in fintech Credix, which has just raised R$60 million (US$11.6 million) in a Series A round.
The investment is Claure’s family office first investment going public since he left SoftBank, where he led a series of the group’s investments in startups worldwide between 2018 and 2022.
In an interview with Bloomberg Línea earlier this year, Claure said he intends to invest in real estate, technology, gaming, blockchain, electric vehicles, artificial intelligence, and both public and private companies, from seed stage to more consolidated companies.
In addition to Claure, Itaú's president in Latin America, Ricardo Villela Marino, also invested in Credix.
Credix’s Series A was co-led by US venture capital funds Motive Partners, ParaFi, Valor Capital, as well as Circle Ventures, Abra, and global credit funds such as MGG Investment Group and native crypto funds, such as Rio de Janeiro-based manager Fuse Capital, also participated in the contribution.
Dan Yamamura, a partner at Fuse, told Bloomberg Línea that the firm saw an opportunity to make an early-stage investment that was “not yet being done in Brazil”. Yamamura comes from the private equity industry but created Fuse two years ago with the idea of helping companies grow “more because of the relationships than the money injected”.
Fuse recently launched its first fund focused exclusively on web3. In August, the fund manager began raising money for Fuse Capital Fund II, intending to raise $50 million, with the first closing of $10 million. Fuse intends to transform its equity investments into tokens. One premise of the fund’s investments is that investees issue tokens within the fund’s five-year term, allowing divestment to be made from the sale of those tokens.
Fuse Capital had already participated in Credix’s Seed in December 2021. At the time, the fintech raised $2.5 million with DRW Cumberland and ParaFi Capital. Solana Ventures, Transfero Swiss BRZ Solana Ecosystem Fund, Petrock Capital, MGNR, Mercurial, and Parrot Finance have also invested.
The Credix business
Chaim Finizola is half Brazilian and half Belgian. Alongside CEO Thomas Bohner and CTO Maxim Piessen, they created Credix to provide funding options for fintechs and companies that provide credit.
Companies apply for money through Credix’s marketplace, which connects that application with those who can guarantee the credit: institutional investors and borrowers ranging from banks, funds, and high net worth individuals. It is an alternative to Brazil’s FIDC (Receivables Investment Funds) where each company needs to issue its own FIDC for funding.
Investors can invest actively or passively and can analyze and underwrite deals one by one. According to Credix, these investors can anticipate a return of around 12% to over 20% per annum.
Credix started off by operating with tickets of up to $1 million. The company uses USDC stablecoins, dollar-pegged cryptocurrencies, to secure credit on the platform and converts the cryptocurrency to local currency for client companies.
In an interview with Bloomberg Línea, Bohner said that since the Seed round the crypto market and macroeconomic landscape have changed, but that given the collapse of cryptocurrencies, the company’s thesis has become even more relevant.
“At the beginning, our thesis was that cryptos and blockchain need to diversify. We need to tokenize real-world assets and blockchain technology needs to be even more connected to the real-world economy. We have seen that happening recently with this macro environment and there is a need for that infrastructure. It has given us the confidence that we are going in the right direction and we should double down on that,” Bohner said.
Credix launched its platform using the Solana blockchain. The product is working and Bohner said the company has already distributed almost $25 million in loans. “During the Series A funding process, the world has changed a few times from a macroeconomic and crypto perspective. But because we have a focus on being an institutional platform connecting real-world activity with decentralized finance, we were confident in our game and with our investors,” the CEO said, though he acknowledged that the process took longer than he expected, much because of the due diligence some investors did.
“We had a fair valuation, in line with what we expected,” the entrepreneur said.
Bohner doesn’t think that all assets in the blockchain and crypto world should be tied to real-world activity but believes that for the industry to grow, more assets need to be brought into tokenization. “If you look at the financial market today, credit and derivatives are much bigger than equity. And they are much bigger than Bitcoin and Ethereum. So we believe they can all exist together, but they can benefit by being tokenized digital assets on a blockchain, bringing more interoperability, scalability, and efficiency.”
According to Bohner, using blockchain to connect investors in emerging markets can ensure greater financial access and lower cost of capital. Today Credix has six clients in Brazil. Adiante, which offers working capital for small and medium-sized companies, Provi, which offers student financing, fintech a55, a revenue-based financing company, as well as providing credit for a car financing company.
The Series A funds will be applied to platform development, adding secondary market funding for fintechs, as well as hiring engineers and technology people. “We are hiring all over the world. We have 14 people but we plan to have around 25, depending on demand, in the coming months,” the CEO said.
Credix is a “remote-first” company but has an office in São Paulo and New York. Today, employees are spread across Brazil, the United States, and Europe. The company aims to reach $100 million in assets under management in the coming months.
For now, all of Credix’s client contracts are in Brazil, but Bohner said it already has the first contracts to run in Mexico and Colombia later this year.