Fortú, the Miami-based neobank that launched in May to serve the needs of the Latino community, is built on the extensible payment processing platform provided by Galileo, the API standard for card issuing and digital banking. Fortú is focused on building culturally contextual financial services to meet the unique banking needs of Latinos and Hispanics in the US.
Fortú was founded by Charles Yim, a former Amazon Web Services and Google executive, and Apolo Doca, who previously helped build Lemon Bank, an early (pre-smartphone) Brazilian digital bank acquired by Banco do Brasil. Fortú has raised $5million, spending the last year in stealth mode building its product. Fortú joins other US and LatAm fintech companies that use Galileo’s API-based platform.
The Fortú team is a mix of first and second-generation immigrants with personal ties across Latin America (Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, etc.) and understands firsthand the tremendous quality-of-life improvement of culturally contextual financial products. According to Yim, the US banking system is not well suited to serve Latinos, presenting obstacles ranging from big issues, such as regulations restricting how and when banks provide non-English language services, to smaller, high-impact issues, including greater embossing flexibility to avoid randomly truncating Latino names that don’t fit within the 24-character embossing standard.
“By creating products to answer the needs of Latinos, who are more likely than the general population to be under- and unbanked, Fortú has set itself apart from other neobanks, while transforming financial wellness for the Latino community,” said Galileo CEO Clay Wilkes. “Building on the flexible Galileo payments processing infrastructure makes it all possible.”
The Latino community is one of the fastest-growing demographics in the US, yet college-educated Latinos are three times more likely to be underbanked than their Caucasian counterparts. According to the Federal Reserve, 10% of Hispanic adults are unbanked, and an additional 22% are underbanked.
“Compared to other demographics, Latinos in the US are more likely to live in multigenerational and multilingual households, with a significant percentage needing to send regular cross-border remittances, leading to an over-reliance on non-bank financial services,” explained Doca. “Latinos have unique challenges in managing finances, which is why we chose the flexibility of Galileo to build Fortú from the ground up. We have created a way to offer the best set of mobile banking solutions–with features and functionality sets that address the needs of Gen Z to Baby Boomers–with our commitment to help face financial hardships and opportunities together.”