Mexico City – February 4, 2020. Recently, Mexico Digital Bank Stori announced its $10 million USD Series A2 financing, co-led by Bertelsmann Investments (BI) and Source Code Capital, and joined by existing investor Vision Plus Capital. Stori also announced the official launch of Stori credit card with compelling digital features in Mexico. This new round of financing will enable Stori to strengthen its big data and AI platform, grow its talent base, and serve 100,000 customers in Mexico. Since its launch in 2018, Stori has raised more than $17 million from investors.
It all started with the story of a helpful credit card almost twenty years ago. At that time, Bin Chen, Stori’s co-founder and CEO, was a graduate student in the United States. Born and raised in one of the poorest regions in China, he had to rely on university scholarships and teaching assistantships to make ends meet when studying in the U.S.. Unfortunately, those money were often not enough, and a credit card was the only tool he could access to finance the last months of his studies in America. After graduate school, Bin went on to join Capital One, one of the largest financial service providers to the lower income population. Bin managed both the credit card and deposit products there, and later worked with banks and credit unions in Asia and U.S. in developing suitable credit card products for consumers and small businesses. Some of those new products have gone on to serve millions of customers.
These valuable experiences led Bin to founding Stori with the help of his five co-founders, including two Mexican co-founders. Their mission is to deliver inclusive digital banking products to the seventy million Mexican people who are not accepted by the traditional banking system. The founding team is composed of banking, technology, risk management, servicing and marketing leaders from Mexico, U.S. and China. Together, they bring more than 100 years of experiences from Capital One, Mastercard, Morgan Stanley, Intel, GE Capital, and P&G.
Stori founders chose Mexico to focus on for its digital banking opportunity. Highly concentrated in the super-prime space, the banking industry has underserved the Mexico mass population. Only about 40% of the nearly 130 million population have a bank account, and less than 15% of consumers have access to bank provided lending. In addition, most banks have not caught up with the digital transformation and are not able to provide a compellingly simple and good customer experience. This is in stark contrast with Mexico’s solid per capita GDP of $9,600, and the fact that 72% of Mexico consumers are already using a smart phone to live a digital life, with apps such as WhatsApp, Facebook, Uber, and Amazon. As a result, a leapfrogging opportunity exists for strong digital bank startups to serve the 70 million unbanked and underbanked consumers, particularly the younger generation, with a superior mobile-first user experience and an inclusive approach.
The Stori credit card is a transformational product and experience for Mexican consumers who need it most. Within weeks, the first two thousand cards were already activated by eager customers due to its compelling features, which include:
Reflecting on Stori’s promising signs of success, Bin recounts that “Almost two decades ago, one credit card saved me from financial difficulty and helped launch my career. Now we are making it our mission to give the same opportunities to tens of millions of hard-working and responsible Mexicans. We are humbled to receive backing from three top investors who have each funded very successful fintechs who now serve tens of millions of customers. Their deep expertise will support our financial inclusion journey well. In last two years, we have developed a strong big data and AI based platform, and built a fantastic Mexico team supported by global talent and resources. The stage is set to turbocharge our growth in platform, people, brand and customer base, making a big impact on financial inclusion.”
Stori’s Mexico co-founder, Marlene Garayzar, said, “From Day One, our mission is to build a leading digital bank in Latin America, starting with Mexico, that drives financial inclusion with technology. Mexico boasts a large population of 130 million with higher than US$9,600 per capita GDP, yet only about 15% of consumers have access to bank provided lending. Our technology and products will enable average Mexicans to access quality banking products and write their own financial story.”
William Zhao, Bertelsmann Investments’ Head of Fintech, said, “We are very excited about Stori because we see the enormous Mexican market opportunity of using fintech technology to expand the financial coverage to millions of Mexican consumers. We are also very honored to partner with the very experienced and visionary Stori team.”
Di Yuan of Source Code Capital, said, “Emerging market fintech is one of the focuses of our global investment strategy. We are attracted by Stori team’s rich fintech experience, proven operational excellence in Mexico, and commitment to deliver unparalleled digital banking experience to Latin American customers through better technology, products and services. We look forward to supporting Stori to grow its customer base and make a huge impact on financial inclusion in Latam.”
Yiran Liu, Partner of Vision Plus Capital, said, “We are thrilled to work with Stori to bring innovative financial technologies and business models to Latin America. Stori is seizing the opportunity of Mexico's booming fintech market and has built up a global organization supporting a majority Mexican team in a short period of time. We are optimistic about Stori’s future development in Mexico as well as South America.”
Stori’s mission is to build a digital bank in Latin America and provide equal access to compelling financial products and services. Stori was founded by a team of leaders who collectively bring more than 100 years of top technology, banking, and operational experiences from Mexico, U.S. and China. Stori’s first major product launched is a consumer-friendly credit card with digital features in Mexico. Stori works with strong partners such as MasterCard to develop better products for the entire population and drive financial inclusion. Visit us at www.storicard.com!
About Bertelsmann Investments (BI):
Bertelsmann Investments (BI) is a global Venture Capital fund backed by Europe-based Bertelsmann Group, a media, services and education corporation that operates in 50 countries around the world. BI invested in Stori via its subsidiary Bertelsmann Asia Investments (BAI). BAI has invested in more than 160 portfolios including 10 IPOs and 20+ unicorns. BAI focuses on sectors including Urbanization and Retail, Finance, Social/ Media/ Content and Tech & Infrastructure. Specifically in Fintech area, BAI has been designated as top 3 funds in Asia and has backed numerous Fintech unicorns at its early and growth stage, including Yixin Group (HKEX.2051), Lexin Group (US.LX) and Linklogis Group etc. As an evergreen fund, BAI supports its portfolio company’s growth with not only long-term capital, but also Bertelsmann Group’s vast global resources and channels.
About Source Code Capital:
Founded in 2014, Source Code Capital is a leading TMT-focused VC investing in both early stage start-ups and growth stage companies. With $2 billion under management, Source Code Capital has successfully partnered with close to 150 technology founders since inception including Bytedance, Meituan, and Homelink. Source Code is focused on its investment theses of “Big 3” fundamental innovation drivers, which are Internet+, AI+, and Global+, and invests in sectors such as media and entertainment, consumer services, enterprise, finance, retail, transportation, housing, education, and healthcare.
About Vision Plus Capital:
Vision Plus Capital is a VC fund created in 2015 by Eddie Wu, a co-founder of Alibaba Group, and a number of partners from leading investment institutions and internet companies. Vision Plus Capital focuses on early-stage investments including consumer internet, Enterprise services/SAAS, FinTech, Digital Health and Advanced Computing. In Fintech area, Vision Plus Capital focuses on inclusive financial services brought by technology innovations, and has invested in start-ups from multiple countries in Asia and Latin America, including Stori, Advance.Ai and iPaylinks.