PayU doubles down on LatAm fintech, acquires Ding and leads $46M investment in ‘superapp’ Treinta in Colombia

PayU, the fintech business controlled by Prosus with operations in 50+ countries — it’s been described as the PayPal of emerging markets — announced a double-deal today to expand its presence in Latin America. The company has acquired Ding, a platform that lets people top up mobile phone credits for others remotely; and it has led a $46 million investment in to Treinta, a financial “superapp” aimed at small businesses. Ding has 300,000 monthly active users transferring about $10 million per month; and Y Combinator alum Treinta, which launched only 18 months ago, has 4 million customers.

Notably, both are based in Colombia but provide services across the Latin America region (and in the case of Ding, globally). For PayU and Prosus, the deals are significant for two main reasons:

First, they are helping Prosus tap into what continues to be a fast-growing market. The company quotes figures from the U.S. Department of Commerce that estimate Colombia alone to have the fifth largest e-commerce market in Latin America, which as a region is projected to reach 260.2 million digital shoppers by the end of 2022, overtaking the U.S., with $167.81 billion in purchases.

Second, the move speaks to how PayU and Prosus are looking to add more diversification to its investment base. It’s a development that’s interesting considering its proximity to Prosus rethinking investments in other regions, specifically the currently-pariah state of Russia, including a $770 million write-down in March of its investment in social network VK.

“Our recent activity in Colombia reflects PayU‘s desire to provide seamless online and cross-border transactions for merchants and consumers,” said Mario Shiliashki, Global CEO of PayU‘s payments division, in a statement. “These are just two examples of how we are providing useful products and services to millions of people in their daily lives. PayU has helped to facilitate the evolution of online payments in Colombia since 2011 and we are proud to be extending our services to promote financial inclusion for SMEs in both Colombia and globally.”

Digging into the individual deals, Ding is the operating name of Tecnipagos, which itself was a spinoff from CredibanCo, a payment services provider in the country that has been around for 50 years. It looks like Ding had never had any outside funding prior to getting spun out and scooped up.

The financial terms of the Ding acquisition — was first reported earlier this month, before it closed — are not being made public, but they may be in future financial statements from Prosus. Prosus itself was listed in 2019 by South African multimedia conglomerate Naspers as a separate, public company that contained all of the company’s tech businesses, which includes PayU and other e-commerce and fintech investments, as well as a significant holding in China’s Tencent. Prosus has a current market cap of $152 billion — a figure largely boosted by that Tencent stake.

For some context on the size of what PayU is acquiring, Ding claims to have some 300,000 monthly active users and makes 30,000 transfers daily totaling some $10 million processed each month.

PayU describes Ding as a payments app, but its focus has squarely up to now been transfers for a single purpose: topping up credit for mobile phones. This in itself is a significant business, and often one that goes hand-in-hand with more general remittance services. Mobile phone credits are used for more than just making calls in emerging markets (the phones become a proxy for bank accounts in many developing markets where traditional banking services are expensive or underdeveloped). Oftentimes money that is sent from friends or family comes in the form of mobile credits. This paves the way for PayU to develop more remittance services around Ding, and potentially extend its existing remittance operations to Ding’s customer base.

The Treinta investment, meanwhile, is a $46 million round along with participation also from LionTree Partners, Ethos VC, TEN13, and other undisclosed investors. Treinta had previously participated in a Y Combinator batch, and backers of the company in its $14.3 million in seed round in 2021 included YC, Levels Up Ventures, Outbound Ventures, Luxor Capital,, Goodwater Capital, Soma Capital, First Check Venture, Houston Angel Network, FJ Labs, Commerce Ventures, Rhombuz Ventures, Acacia Venture Partners and Evening Fund.

Treinta — which means “thirty” in Spanish — is not disclosing its valuation, and PayU also declined to comment on the figure.

The startup has only been around for 18 months and it says that it already has some 4 million SMB customers in 18 countries.

Treinta itself is tapping two trends that are big in fintech at the moment. The first involves a wave of fintech businesses building “all in one” platforms, where customers might come for one specific service — financing, or invoicing, or current account services, for example — and are being upsold to related offerings, which themselves are build around a wider dataset that the fintech is building about that particular customer. These services often bring in technology behind the scenes from third parties, using APIs to embed those white-label products and brand them as their own.

The second is Treinta’s focus on small businesses — a cornerstone of the global economy, yet one that has been traditionally underserved by technology. Treinta estimates that there are some 50 million small businesses (it describes them as “microenterprises”) in Latin America, with some 90% of them yet to adopt any kind of tech at all to manage their finances, so it’s a large potential market.

PayU, as a provider and builder of fintech solutions, will be able to leverage Treinta as a channel for getting its own customer-facing tech deeper into the market in Colombia and the rest of Latin America, but Treinta will also become another retail channel for PayU’s under-the-hood technology.

“By acquiring and investing in businesses like Ding and Treinta, both global and local SMEs are able to expand their business within LatAm, providing the best payments service with the consumer experience first in mind,” said Francisco León, PayU‘s CEO for Latin America, in a statement. “We are very excited to expand the reach of Treinta and Ding’s innovative solutions, particularly as these services are fully aligned with our strategic goal of creating a world without financial borders.”

While a lot of PayU’s activity has been in Asia and emerging markets in Europe, Latin America will be a big focus in coming months it seems. A spokesperson tells us that PayU plans to make further investments in the region this year.

Merge raises $15M Series A for its B2B integrations platform

Merge, an integrations platform that focuses on B2B use cases, today announced that it has raised a $15 million Series A funding round led by Lee Fixel at Addition, with participation from existing investor NEA, which led the company’s $4.5 million seed round, and a number of angel investors. In addition to the new funding, the company also today announced partnerships with HR providers BambooHR and application tracking system Lever.

Merge co-founders Shensi Ding and Gil Feig told me that when the company announced its seed funding, there were about 100 companies on its platform. Today that number is 600 and Ding noted that this now includes a number of public companies. As is often the case with seed-stage startups, Merge spent a lot of the last few months building the right tools for these larger customers, including single-tenant hosting for those enterprises that need those kinds of assurances. But the team also added features like CSV uploads, SAML SSO custom field mapping, more detailed logging and more.

The company’s vision is to become the de facto standard for B2B integrations. Right now, its focus is on HR, payroll, accounting and recruiting, but that’s mainly because the team is still small and had to focus its efforts.

Image Credits: Merge

“We are planning on crossing many categories and not only focusing on a few,” Ding said. “This was just the beginning. But to be honest, one thing that Gil and I previously experienced at our previous companies was that those broad integrations companies are too broad. They don’t really cover enough players in a space where if you have a customer who’s on one platform, sure, that one customer might be covered, but then the 10 other customers you’re trying to onboard probably aren’t covered by those broad integrations platforms. Having comprehensive coverage in existing categories has been really huge for us.”

As Feig also stressed, Merge doesn’t see itself as a workflow automation platform that wants to compete with Microsoft’s Power Automate and similar platforms. Instead, the team is positioning Merge as a tool to help B2B companies build customer-facing integrations. The average B2B company needs to integrate with dozens of vendors — and those integrations can often be brittle. Merge offers them a unified API that can then power all of these user-facing experiences.

Image Credits: Merge

“We’re seeing these bigger companies work on or acquire products like Dell Boomi and that sort of thing,” Feig explained. “They really are still workflow automation, which are mainly beneficial for internal use cases, like ‘when something happened on Salesforce, notify the sales team on Slack.’ The benefit overall of what we’re doing is the fact that we’re unified, the fact that you get 20, 30, 40 API’s all unified into a single format. That one build produces all of those integrations whereas those classic workflow products that more and more people are rolling out still require you to build one-by-one. They just move the implementation from code to having to drag and drop blocks in a UI.”

Currently, Merge features about 50 integrations. Unsurprisingly, the team plans to use the new funding to expand into more categories and to expand its engineering and sales team to do so.

“Merge continues to position itself as a leader in customer-facing integrations in the B2B space,” said Lee Fixel, founder of Addition. “Their track record to date demonstrates they’re solving the right problem with the right product, and we’re excited to support the company on its continued growth trajectory.”

Merge raises $4.5M to help B2B companies build customer-facing integrations

Merge, a startup that helps its users build customer-facing integrations with third-party tools, today announced that it has raised a $4.5 million seed round led by NEA. Additional angel investors include former MuleSoft CEO Greg Schott, Cloudflare CEO Matthew Prince, Expanse co-founders Tim Junio and Matt Kraning, and Jumpstart CEO Ben Herman.

Launched in 2020, the core focus of Merge is to give B2B companies a unified API to access data from what is currently about 40 HR, payroll, recruiting and accounting platforms, with plans for expanding to additional areas soon. But Merge co-founders Shensi Ding and Gil Feig, who have been lifelong friends and previously worked at companies like Expanse and Jumpstart, stress that the service isn’t aiming to replace workflow tools Workato or Zapier.

Image Credits: Merge

“What we built is more similar to Plaid than MuleSoft or other things,” Feig said. “We built a unified API, so we’re fully embedded in a customer’s product and they build one integration with us and can automatically offer all these integrations to their customers. On top of that, we offer what we call integrations management, which is a suite of tools to automatically detect issues where the customer would have to get involved — automatically detect that stuff and handle it without ever having to involve engineering again.”

When Merge’s systems detect issues with an integration, maybe because a data schema in an API response has changed without notice (which happens with some regularity), Merge’s engineers can fix that within minutes, in part because the teams also built an internal no-code tool for building and managing these integrations.

Image Credits: Merge

As Ding also noted, B2B buyers today also simply expect their tools to feature integrations with the service they use. “Companies, when they purchase a vendor, they expect that vendor to have integrations with all the other vendors that they own,” she said. “They don’t want to have to purchase a vendor and then purchase a workflow product and then connect those products.”

And while Merge’s focus right now is squarely on a few verticals, the plan is to expand this to far more areas shortly, likely starting with CRM. “Salesforce has a pretty large market share, so we thought that it wasn’t going to be as interesting of a market,” Ding said. “But it turns out that their API is so complex that customers would still prefer to integrate with us instead if we simplify it for them.”

Ding and Feig tell me the company, which came out of stealth about two months ago, already has about 100 organizations on its platform, varying from seed-stage companies to publicly listed enterprises. The team credits its focus on security and reliability (and its SOC II compliance) with being able to bring on some of these larger companies despite being a seed-stage company itself.

To monetize the service, Merge offers a free tier (up to 10,000 API requests per month) and charges $0.01 per API request for additional usage. Unsurprisingly, the company also offers customized enterprise plans for its larger customers.

“The time and expense associated with building and maintaining myriad API integrations is a pain point we hear about consistently from our portfolio companies across all industries,” said NEA managing general partner Scott Sandell, who will join the company’s board. “Merge is tackling this ubiquitous problem head-on via their easy-to-use, unified API platform. Their platform has broad applicability and is a massive upgrade for any software company that needs to build, manage, and maintain multiple API integrations.”

iPhone 12 mini Review: Tiny package, big bang

Reviewing the iPhone 12 mini and the iPhone 12 Pro Max at the same time has been an exercise in extremes. I noted in my earlier reviews of the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro that it was difficult to evaluate the middle of the lineup without having the extreme ends of the scale available to contrast them. 

Now that I have had a chance to examine those extremes, I have come away incredibly impressed with the job that Apple has done on the whole lineup this year. These phones are extremely well sized, highly crisp from a design perspective and generously appointed with features. Aside from a handful of small items, there are no glaring examples here of artificial cliffs on the feature side or price side that attempt to push people upwards in the lineup. Something that has been the case in some years. 

The most impressive of all of the iPhones 12 this year should be, by all rights, the iPhone 12 Pro Max. It’s big screen and beautiful casing make it very attractive and it has the best camera I’ve ever seen in a phone. 

But in my opinion, the iPhone 12 mini is the most attractive phone in the lineup. The dark horse that makes a strong case for itself outside of the ‘I just want a small phone’ crowd. 

The size

The iPhone mini is 20% smaller and 18% lighter than the iPhone 12 and about half the size of the iPhone 11. It really hits a nicely sweet note for fit, and the lack of a home button means that the screen can accommodate quite a bit more content on display at once. 

Though my larger hands do feel a bit more comfortable on the iPhone 12, I am happy to report that the typing experience on the iPhone 12 mini is far superior to the 4.0” first generation SE. It even gets a leg up on the 4.7” iPhone SE introduced earlier this year because the screen is the same width but taller — letting it pull of the Tardis trick of being smaller with a bigger screen. This allows the Emoji keyboard toggle and the voice dictation button to drop out of the bottom row of keys, relaxing spacing on the return, space and number pad buttons. This additional size, especially for the spacebar, improves the typing experience measurably. The key spacing is a bit less generous than the iPhone 12, but this is a workable situation for typing.

If you look at this and an iPhone 11, because of the way that the screen is rendered, you’re going to see pretty much the same amount of content. 

The iPhone 12 mini on top of an iPhone 12 Pro Max

On top of an iPhone 12 Pro Max

Speaking of rendering, the iPhone 12 mini is scaled, which means that it is displaying at roughly .96 of its ‘native’ screen resolution of 2340×1080. In my testing, this scaling was not apparent in any way. Given that the mini has a resolution of 476ppi in a smaller screen than the iPhone 12 which clocks in at 460ppi that’s not too surprising. iPhones have been doing integral scaling for years with their magnification features so Apple has plenty of practice at this. I didn’t notice any artifacting or scrolling, and most apps looked just fine proportionally, though some developers that do not take advantage of Apple’s native frameworks that support various screen sizes may have to do a bit of tweaking here and there. 

The iPhone mini has a nice lightweight compactness to it. In order to get a read on its vibe I compared it to the iPhone 4S, which felt far denser, the iPhone 5 which felt a bit more airy and the iPhone 5C which still feels fun but cheap. It shares pedigree with all of these devices but feels far more assured and integral. The iPhone 12 design language doesn’t feel like multiple materials sandwiched together in the way that these earlier devices do. It feels grown, rather than made. 

That integral quality does wonders when it’s such a small device because every millimeter counts. Apple didn’t cheap out on the casing or design and gave it an exterior to match its very performant interior. 

The speaker and microphone grills, I’m sad to say, are asymmetric on the iPhone 12 mini. Ding.

And don’t think you miss out on anything performance related when you go to the mini. While it appears that either heat management, scaling or power management in general has made Apple tweak the processor ever so slightly, the benchmarks are close enough to make it a wash. There is zero chance you ever see any real-world difference between the iPhone 12 mini and any other iPhone 12.

For what it’s worth, the iPhone 12 mini has 4GB of RAM, same as the iPhone 12. The iPhone Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max have 6GB. The biggest real world effect of RAM that I have found on iPhone is less dumping of Safari tabs in the background so if you’re a pro browser take that into account.

The iPhone 12 mini is basically identical in the photography department to the iPhone 12. You lose nothing, it’s a great camera. Nothing much to see there though so I’m not spending any time on it. You will have a world class phone camera, just no telephoto.

If you’re a camera-oriented iPhone user, your usage of the telephoto lens is probably the most crisp deciding factor between the iPhone 12 Pro and the iPhone 12. The LiDAR benefits are there, and they absolutely make a big difference. But not having a telephoto at all could be an easy make-or-break for some people. 

Cribbing from my iPhone 12 Pro review here, one easy way to judge is to make a smart album in Photos on a Mac (or sort your photos using another tool that can read metadata) specifying images shot with a telephoto lens. If that’s a sizeable portion of your pics over the last year, then you’ve got a decision to make about whether you’re comfortable losing that option. 

When I did this, just about 19% of my iPhone 11 Pro shots were taken with the telephoto lens. Around 30% of those were portrait shots. So for me, 1 in every 5 images was shot with that tighter framing. It’s just something I find attractive. I like a little bit more precise of a crop and the nice amount of compression (for closer subjects) that comes with the longer focal length.

You don’t get 4k/60fps video but you still can shoot 4K/30fps Dolby Vision video in this super tiny device, which is wild. It’s more than I think any normal iPhone 12 mini user will ever need.

Apple says that the iPhone 12 mini’s battery life is better than the 4.7” iPhone SE and that bore out in my testing. I got through a day easily, with maybe a few percentage points difference between the iPhone 12 mini and the iPhone 12. I didn’t have enough time to run a comparison against the battery king, the iPhone 11, but I doubt it would come anywhere near unseating it just from a physics perspective. This thing is small so the battery pack is small and the processor is not being majorly throttled in any way. 



I did have a chance to try the iPhone 12 mini slip case and I thought it was well made and clever, though absolutely positively not for me. I use my iPhone too much to be sliding it into a sleeve and back out again, it would be an exercise in futility. But if you are in the market for this kind of case, I hold that the Apple version shows off the company’s earned expertise in leather. It’s well trimmed, it has nice edge finishing and a clever clasp. 

It integrates Apple’s MagSafe magnet array to display a live clock on the OLED screen with a space for the ambient light sensor. The clock display is pretty clever. It has a lightly colored background that matches the leather color of the case using the same NFC trick as the silicon cases which display a color matched ring when you put them on. The clock fades in two stages over a few seconds but will turn on when the ambient light sensor knows it’s not in your pocket and the motion coprocessor in the A14 senses movement. 

So a quick lift will flip the time on and let you check it. It also still allows tap-to-wake in the clock window, showing you the color matched time. 

There’s also a hidden card slot for maybe 1 credit card or ID card inside the mouth of the case. Like I said, it’s not for me, but I can appreciate that a lot more is going on in this little case than meets the eye, and it shows off some of the sophistication that could be coming to other MagSafe accessories in the future. 

The conclusion

In my iPhone 12/12 Pro review I noted my rubric for selecting a personal device:

  • The most compact and unobtrusive shape.
  • The best camera that I can afford.

And this is the conclusion I came to at the time:

The iPhone 12 Pro is bested (theoretically) in the camera department by the iPhone 12 Pro Max, which has the biggest and best sensor Apple has yet created. (But its dimensions are similarly biggest.) The iPhone 12 has been precisely cloned in a smaller version with the iPhone 12 mini. By my simple decision-making matrix, either one of those are a better choice for me than either of the models I’ve tested. If the object becomes to find the best compromise between the two, the iPhone 12 Pro is the pick.

Now that I have had both of those devices in my hand, I can say that my opinion hasn’t changed, but my definitions of the lineup have a bit. 

Because the iPhone 12 mini has no appreciable compromises in feature set from the iPhone 12, I consider these one device with two screen sizes. Yes, this may feel like a ‘duh’ moment but I didn’t want to jump to this place without actually using the mini for an extended period. Most critically, I needed to get a feel for that typing experience. 

The iPhone mini is by far the best value per dollar in Apple’s 2020 lineup. With this you get all of the power and advances of the iPhone 12, everything but the telephoto camera (and 60fps/4k video) of the iPhone 12 Pro and everything but the new sensor in the iPhone 12 Pro Max. Those additions will cost you anywhere from $300-$400 more over the life of your device if you choose to step up. 

I’ve been thinking hard about what a clear break point would be between deciding on the iPhone 12 and the iPhone 12 mini. If you are someone who really likes or ergonomically needs a smaller screen, you’re being treated to a device with no compromises in core functionality. But if you’re not a “small boi” fan then what is the deciding factor?

For me, it comes to this decision flow.

  • Is the iPhone your only camera and do you use it constantly for images? Then choose the iPhone 12 Pro. 
  • Are you an iPhone photographer that regularly prints images or edits them heavily? Choose the iPhone 12 Pro Max.
  • Are neither of those true, but it is true that the iPhone is your only mobile computing device? Go with the iPhone 12.
  • If that’s not true and you regularly carry an iPhone alongside a laptop or iPad, then go with the mini. 

Here, I even made you a handy flowchart if that kind of thing is your bag:

This is one of the best years ever for the iPhone lineup. The choices presented allow for a really comfortable picking routine based on camera and screen size with no majorly painful compromises in raw power or capability. These are full featured devices that are really well made from end to end. 

I hope that this template in sizing sticks around for a while as the powerful camera tech creeps its way down the lineup over time, invalidating at least the photography side of my flowchart above. Until then, this is still one of the better “small” iPhones Apple has ever produced, and certainly one with the least overall compromise.