Borderlands: Tribal aims for Latin American SMBs using blockchain, crypto – FreightWaves

Wealthlandnews July 3, 2022
Updated 2022/07/06 at 9:08 AM

The global cross-border payment market totaled $903 billion in 2021, and the worldwide blockchain and cryptocurrency market is expected to reach $23 billion by 2028, according to Vantage Market Research.
Fintech companies such as San Francisco-based Tribal see big opportunities in challenging established payment services for cross-border trade using blockchain and cryptocurrencies.
While cryptocurrencies have been under fire in recent months as their values have fluctuated wildly, the basic blockchain technology on which many cryptos are based is being adopted quicker in emerging markets such as Latin America, the Middle East and Africa, said Mohamed Elkasstawi, chief strategy officer of Tribal.
“In the Middle East, even though you are a startup and you raise $10 million or $20 million, it’s still very hard to get a bank account for your company,” Elkasstawi told FreightWaves. “It can take up to three years to get a credit card in some countries. We have heard similar stories in Latin America, where some companies pay up to 300% interest for credit.”
Tribal is a crypto-focused B2B financing and payment platform focused on emerging markets, providing spend management solutions, multi-currency corporate Visa cards and payroll services for employees and contractors to small and midsized businesses. The company currently operates in about 26 countries, including Mexico, Brazil, Colombia, Peru and Chile.
About 62 million SMBs are transacting globally every year, with Latin America representing a $175 billion market opportunity led by Mexico, according to Tribal.
“There are a lot of opportunities for countries like Mexico and other Latin countries to leapfrog to the new technology using new financial rails, where it can provide faster and cheaper ways to send money around the globe,” Elkasstawi said.
In December, Tribal partnered with the Stellar Development Foundation and Latin American cryptocurrency exchange Bitso to launch a cross-border B2B payment service between the U.S. and Mexico using Stellar’s U.S. dollar-based stablecoin for that purpose.
Stellar Development Foundation is a nonprofit based in San Francisco that supports the development and growth of Stellar, a blockchain network that connects global financial infrastructure. Bitso is a Mexico-based global cryptocurrency exchange founded in 2014.
Along with services such as corporate cards and digital spend management solutions, Tribal is  launching a few crypto-specific products.
“We’re launching a crypto as a cash-back service. You can think about it as crypto, but for businesses,” Elkasstawi said. “We are also launching a platform to connect to crypto lenders with SMBs.”
Tribal also aims to connect crypto lenders with borrowers who are running successful businesses and have a good credit score but can’t get access to lower cost capital with traditional banks.
“A lot of traditional banks prey on [SMBs], so we would like to connect these lenders with these borrowers at much cheaper rates and for a fixed period of time like one to three years,” Elkasstawi said.
Logistics startup Nuvocargo has launched a carrier billing platform with the goal of helping carriers get paid faster, save time on invoicing and reduce complexities when receiving data from multiple communication points.
Anaid Chacón, Nuvocargo’s head of product, said the company’s clients pointed out existing billing processes in the transportation industry were a major point of inefficiency.
“Nuvocargo’s carrier platform keeps track of all invoices and load details all in one place, helping carriers streamline invoicing,” Chacón said in a press release.
New York-based Nuvocargo also announced that Jonathan Rojas, a former vice president at Transfix, has joined the company as head of supply to lead the carrier sales and operations team and execute the rollout of its carrier platform.
Nuvocargo was founded in 2019 as a digital logistics platform for cross-border trade between the U.S. and Mexico. The company offers freight forwarding, customs brokerage, cargo insurance and trade financing services.
Japan-based Daikin announced it will build a $230 million manufacturing facility in Mexico, according to the Cooling Post.
The 761,000 square-foot facility — the location of which has not been revealed — is scheduled to be operational by 2024.
The company said the new plant is a response to increasing demand for its products in North America and Latin America, which include the Daikin, Goodman and Amana brands.
Daikin is a global manufacturer of air conditioning and HVAC products. The company’s North American headquarters is in Houston.
During the first five months of the year, seaports across Mexico handled 3.3 million loaded twenty-foot equivalent units, a 9.8% increase compared to the same period last year.
Mexican ports handled 1 million TEUs of empty containers from January through May, a year-over-year increase of 14.3% compared to 2021, according to data from Mexico’s secretary of the navy.
Imports from January through May totaled 1.6 TEUs, a year-over-year increase of 11.2%. Exports also totaled 1.6 million TEUs, an increase of 10.9% compared to the same year-ago period.
The Port of Manzanillo on the west coast of Mexico handled the most containers between January and May at 1.3 million TEUs, followed by the ports of Lázaro Cárdenas (853,782 TEUs), Veracruz (470,998 TEUs), Altamira (334,543 TEUs) and Ensenada (174,442 TEUs).

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