Argentina's Growing Tech Hub in Latin AmericaArgentina is one of three Latin American countries in the G20 and now has a booming tech industry. Though the industry has been on the rise since the 1980s after a major Argentinian recession, growth in recent years can be attributed to a few key factors.

One reason for Argentina’s growing tech hub is President Mauricio Macri’s new market-friendly policies. President Macri has sought to use the tech sector as a source for both new growth and reduced economic reliance on commodities. Though criticized, the policies Macri has introduced have helped the country reopen access to international debt markets and incentivized entrepreneurship. The Macri administration expects that 1.5 percent of GDP will come from the tech sector because of new policies.

The new law, called Ley de Emprendedores, or the Entrepreneur’s Law, replaces a previous law where approval and financing procedures took nearly a year to complete before entrepreneurs could legally launch their companies. The policy also allocates public funding to co-invest with private funding into businesses, by the means of the Fiduciary Fund for the Development of Venture Capital. This legislation is backed by both the Association of Entrepreneurs in Argentina and the Argentina Association of Private Equity, Venture and Seed Capital.

As such, the startup technological field continues to grow with a new generation of companies. These companies include the Y-Combinater backed Bluesmart, satellite startup Satellogic which raised $20 million last year to build imaging satellites and Affluenta, a peer to peer lending platform, which raised $8 million last year.

The stars of Argentina’s growing tech hub are three internet companies located in Buenos Aires that are worth over a billion dollars: MercadoLibre, OLX and Despegar. MercadoLibre is the only internet company from Latin America that is listed on NASDAQ. As the Huffington Post states, “a startup ecosystem is flourishing” in Argentina.

Gabriella Paez

Photo: Flickr

Paystack Bridges Gap Between Internet and Retailers
Nigeria is experiencing both a business and technology boom. Small businesses are thriving in the country. Last year, Nigerian businesses collectively made $150 billion. A majority of these transactions occurred offline while only one percent happened online. Online transactions are not common in Africa, even though in Nigeria, there are 57.7 million internet users. It is evident that businesses are not using technology to their advantage.

To address this issue, Nigerian tech entrepreneurs Shola Akinlade and Erza Olubi developed Paystack, an online payments platform. Akinlade believed that available systems in Africa were fragmented and inefficient.

Akinlade says “Having painstakingly identified the many barriers that merchants on the continent have when it comes to online payments, we have built and refined a product for Africa that we hope will act as a catalyst for the continent’s online economy.”

Retailers can set up the platform on their site or app for free. After that, customers can make purchases in three easy steps and have the option to arrange for a recurring billing. Paystack accepts credit and debit. All payments are processed within 30 minutes.

For security purposes, the platform is PCI DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard) certified. Additionally, they offer fraud prevention, which involves screening every single transaction and authorizes businesses to create their own transaction guidelines. Therefore, businesses and customers are less likely to be victims of frauds.

Paystack also contains a dashboard function that lets business owners view all their transactions, choose a payout schedule and analyze trends.

According to the developing team, it has processed $1 billion worth of transactions and approximately 1,500 Nigerians businesses use Paystack, including, Payporte, IrokoTV, Jobberman, Printivo, and hundreds of other.

Paystack is one the first Nigerian tech companies to join the Y Combinator program. The Silicon Valley program provides seed funding and other necessities for startups. Through the Y Combinator program, Paystack was given $120,000 as initial capital and gave them useful tools to further develop Paystack.

After being on the market for a year, Paystack was able to acquire 1.3 million seed investment from both international and domestic investors including Tencent, Comcast Ventures, Singularity Investments and others. This is the second highest seed investment raised by a Nigerian startup. Paystack will use the funds to expand their engineering team, increase sales and product development.

Shola Akinlade and Erza Olub created Paystack to offer a unified and multipurpose platform for businesses not only in Nigeria but in all of Africa.

Karla Umanzor

Photo: Flickr