Americans expect credit cards.
Mexico makes it harder and less common. Fewer than 20% of people have credit, and only 10% have credit cards.
In recent years, several startups have emerged to provide underserved Mexicans with more options to increase inclusion. Vexi is a startup. Rojo Blasquez, Gabriela Estrada, Cinthia Merlos, Salvador Michel, and Carlos Franco co-founded the company in 2018. Merlos, the company’s COO, said all founders grew up middle class and are personally invested in helping Latin America’s emerging middle class access better financial services.
We’re all Mexican middle class. “We went to public schools and worked hard to get scholarships for private schools or to study abroad,” Estrada told “We want to change, and our customers are changing every day.”
Mexicali-based Vexi, a neobank, doesn’t offer checking or savings accounts yet. Its only product is an American Express credit card without third-party issuers or processors. Merlos says this boosts interchange fee revenue by 3x compared to startups that use third parties. Vexi offers interest-free installments, cash back, purchase insurance, and “competitive” interest rates. Competitive means 29%–79%, which is very high in the U.S. Merlos noted that microloan interest rates are much higher in Mexico.
Merlos said only 1 in 10 Mexicans have credit cards, usually because they earn less than traditional banks require or work in the informal economy due to a lack of formal employment. We compete with cash and high-interest microcredits, not traditional banks.
75% of Vexi cardholders are 18–35 and earn $600–800 per month. Nearly 60% of its customers are self-employed, and most use the cards to buy business supplies.
Merlos and Estrada say the company’s homegrown credit scoring system lets it offer credit cards in tiers for responsible lending. Credit limits and scores rise as users demonstrate creditworthiness, and interest rates fall. The pair also claim that users work hard to make payments on time to build credit and avoid losing access. The app educates users on money management.
“Our vision is to use our technology, talent, passion, and experience to break the vicious circle where a person in Latin America cannot access the first line of credit to start their credit history and gets stuck taking out high interest loans that they can never recover from,” said Vexi CEO Estrada.
Competitors don’t faze them.
“They are saying ‘I want to teach people how to drive a car, so we will give them a Nissan because they are learning,’ or in other words very basic products,” Merlos said. “However, we are saying ‘Okay, I will teach you how to drive. I’ll give you a better car if you start driving and improve. The company lets customers use credit cards on their phones.
Today, the company announced a “oversubscribed” $8 million Series A round led by Magma Partners. It raised $3.7 million in a seed round and $20 million in debt by 2021. Redwood Ventures and U.S.-based Rebalance Capital joined Alpha4Ventures, Noa Capital, and Pomona Impact in the Series A round.
“We’ve been strong Vexi backers since 2020 and decided to follow because the Vexi team is solving a real problem for Latin Americans. “We’re excited to help them build Mexican society’s finances,” said Magma Managing Partner Nathan Lustig.
Vexi plans to use the funds to expand its customer base, hire new staff, and improve its tech stack and risk algorithms. Merlos said the company’s revenue has grown “4x” in 24 months.
“We got 2.5 million applications with less than $4 million in equity raised before this Series A,” Estrada said. It has issued 850,000 credit cards.
“We believe in sustainable growth, a slower pace maybe compared to other startups but with solid, positive unit economics,” Merlos told “This fact allowed us to bootstrap during the pandemic and strengthens our company to handle economic downturns.”
Vexi currently only serves the massive Mexican market of nearly 127 million people. It plans to expand into other LatAm countries.
Stori, Klar, and ZenFi are other Mexican startups.