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Non-Profit Group Backs Digital Payments Firm with $15M

US non-profit invests in Airtm in bid to open cross-border digital payments and foreign currency transactions in Latin America

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Non-Profit Group Backs Digital Payments Firm with $15M

Non-profit organization the Stellar Development Foundation (SDF) has invested $15 million in a Mexican digital payments company to boost cross-border banking access.

The US foundation has backed Mexico City-based Airtm, a blockchain and bank-connected digital wallet provider.

The investment will allow Airtm to bring secure and affordable financial services to businesses and consumers across Latin America, according to a statement from Stellar published last week.

Airtm will use Stellar’s payments network to aid efficient and cost-effective cross-border transactions.

SDF owns and operates Stellar, an “open network for storing and moving money”, according to its website. Based on open-source computer code, the network is designed the make digital payments more accessible and supports fiat and digital currencies.

Airtm CEO Ruben Galindo Steckel said: “Airtm exists because financial systems throughout the developing world are not aligned with their people’s needs and global aspirations.

“With this investment, and our integration with the Stellar network, we will continue to advance on our mission of helping consumers and businesses throughout the developing world access stable money that holds its value, is instant to transfer with no fees, compatible with the global economy, and can be withdrawn as local currency whenever, and wherever it’s needed”.

Fragmented banking networks across the region meant Latin America was a largely cash-based economy. In 2020 alone, 91% of all transactions in Mexico were still made in cash, Stellar said.

However, the non-profit group said countries were digitizing fast, with 13 million Visa cardholders in Latin America making their first-ever online transaction in 2020 – a trend accelerated by the pandemic.

In 2021, SDF’s Enterprise Fund invested a total of $24.5 million in global fintech or blockchain companies, for a combined total of $33.76 million in investments.

Virginia-based Blue Ridge Bank recently partnered with fintech company Aeldra Financial to a launch a new mobile neobank to boost banking access for overseas companies with US cross-border banking needs.

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