Em Conversa looks to uncover the secrets in Latin America (LatAm) that have caused the fintech market to boom, from being worth less than US$50million in 2016, to US$2.1billion in 2022.
CloudWalk, the owner of the InfinitePay financial services platform, achieved a total revenue of US$151.350million in the first half of 2023 – a 56 per cent increase compared to the same period last year.
In an environment where many unicorns are struggling to break even, CloudWalk wrapped the first half of 2023 with a net income of US$13.2million, on track to hit US$300million in annual recurring revenue (ARR).
To understand what CloudWalk is doing differently, and how its finding success during a trying time, we sat down with Luis Silva, founder and CEO of CloudWalk.
Can you tell me more about the company?
CloudWalk is a global financial services platform and a pioneer in developing a cloud-based payments platform. The company’s primary mission is to revolutionise the way small and medium-sized businesses handle money. In 2019, we launched InfinitePay in Brazil, a service that started as a POS system. It has represented a turning point in the payments market in Brazil.
By using blockchain and machine learning, we were able to reduce transaction costs dramatically with InfinitePay. Up until then, the market practice was to increase profits and we decided to pass on those savings to customers – which led to a huge decrease in interest SMBs paid for anticipating their sales.
The practical result of this was the consequences that InfinitePay brought to the payments market in Brazil, forcing other players to recalculate their fees at the height of the so-called ‘POS war’.
In the last couple of years, we evolved our operation into a robust financial services platform with the goal of fulfilling all the needs SMEs have in order to succeed. This includes:
- InfiniteTap – the evolution of the POS, by transforming mobile phones with Tap to Pay technology;
- InfiniteCash, a lending product based on sales and with payment flexibility tailored for entrepreneurs; and InfiniteNitro, a fast way to anticipate your sales profits within six seconds.
Tell me about your role at Cloudwalk
I was born in the countryside in Sao Paulo, coming from a public school and restricted access to education. As a self-taught developer, I begin my journey as an entrepreneur very early on in my career, and CloudWalk is my fourth venture.
As founder and chief executive, my role is to ensure that the company continues to play a transformative role in the market, aiming to give SMBs increasingly fast access to money so their businesses can thrive.
We have over one million customers and exceeded US$138million in annual revenue in 2023, reaching the Centaur status. It is one of the fastest-growing financial institutions in Brazil and we have raised US$350million from investors such as Coatue and DST. This puts us at an estimated market value of US$2.15billion.
What are some SME payment trends we’re seeing in Brazil?
Small and medium-sized entrepreneurs in the region as a whole are looking for allies who bring services to help simplify their operations. Technology is a major catalyst for SMEs, as we have seen with the launch of Pix in Brazil – the instant payment method that has allowed millions of micro, small, and medium-sized merchants to start accepting payments via smartphone.
Pix is a big inspiration to the whole market. In order to achieve instant payments, we used our blockchain-based platform to create InfiniteNitro – a feature that allows merchants to anticipate their sales profits within six seconds.
What is CloudWalk doing to improve the SME payment sector in Brazil and LatAm?
As a company that always seeks to lead trends and solutions for entrepreneurs, in November 2022 we launched InfiniteTap, a tap-to-pay solution that has gained major traction with a 123 per cent increase MoM. In 2019, we led a big revolution for SMEs by democratising the access to POS with much cheaper costs. We view tap to pay as the next big revolution in the payment industry because of its ability to reach SMEs of all sizes in a much cheaper and faster way. Now, anyone with a smartphone is a potential seller.
Apple recently announced the launch of Tap to Pay on iPhone for its Brazilian customers and we’re their first partner in the country, which means today we’re the only company in Brazil that allows any smartphone – iOS or Android – to become a POS.
How does the Brazilian SME payment sector compare to that of the rest of the world? What are some unique challenges associated with the region/country in the SME payment space?
Brazil’s financial landscape was stagnant since the 80s – and the SME scenario was no different. In the last decade, the country has shifted its mindset, led by new entrants alongside the regulators. CloudWalk, as I mentioned, joined that change in 2019.
But there’s still a big financial inclusion challenge for us, considering we have a population of 34 million unbanked and underserved Brazilians, according to data from the Central Bank. And digital services have shown a huge potential to tackle that issue, especially due to our massive smartphone penetration (115 million active devices according to recent data).
In recent years, Pix played a huge role in providing a cheap and fast way to move money that was rapidly adopted by the population – which was quite impressive. In 2022 alone, Brazilians made over 24 billion transactions according to data from the Brazilian Central Bank.
We see the same possibilities for tap-to-pay as the next big revolution in the payment sector, allowing easy and cheap access to our massive SME market. With InfinitePay, we see a particular interest in this technology within the fashion and beauty segments, especially with entrepreneurs working in a more ‘premium’ segment.
This experience of checking out directly with a salesperson, who uses smartphones as a POS, has been consolidated in sophisticated services, in stores for companies such as Apple and Sephora. We have seen a similar movement of shopkeepers inspired by these brands. Attracted by the flexibility and accessibility of InfiniteTap, a second group of nomade entrepreneurs, who don’t work from a fixed location, such as freelancers, street vendors, etc.
Plans for the future (roadmap and growth plan)
In an environment where many unicorns are struggling to break even, CloudWalk achieved a total revenue of US$151.350million in the first half of 2023 – a 56 per cent increase compared to the same period last year. Since our last raise in November 2021, we’ve grown our revenue by four times. Our user base has also seen major growth thanks to InfiniteTap – we basically doubled our number of clients from January to September 2023.
And we plan on intensifying our product diversification strategy with InfiniteTap at the forefront. We strongly believe that the technology is mature enough and that at this point it’s a matter of changing user behavior and encouraging its adoption.
Much of our financial effort will be concentrated on this front, because it’s what puts us at the vanguard of the payments sector, maintaining our tradition of being the industry’s point of transformation. In addition to tap-to-pay, we are seeing solid growth in our credit and collection management operations.
These are two major pain points for our customer base that we are solving with innovative and flexible products. In InfiniteCash alone, our credit granting tool, we have already released more than R$260million in loans in 12 months. Our goal is to end 2024 with R$2billion.
We are also looking to expand our operations. We learned a lot from SMEs behaviour in Brazil and we are currently looking into opportunities in markets with similar market demands that could benefit from our successful experience.