This startup wants to make it easy for Latin American freelancers to get paid in US dollars

By June 5, 2024

Like elsewhere in the world, the COVID-19 pandemic helped accelerate the shift to a remote-work culture in Latin America.

According to Texas hiring firm CodersLink, prior to the pandemic, people who worked full-time remotely in Latin America was at 14%. Following the pandemic, that number jumped to 36%.

As remote working for United States companies has become more popular for well-educated and technology savvy LatAm professionals, in some countries, freelancers and remote workers have run into challenges.

For example, extremely high taxes on the import of US dollars in Argentina drove some freelancers in 2022 to find work-arounds via crypto exchanges.

Read more: How Argentines use cryptocurrency to avoid high taxes on US dollars earned abroad

But as companies in the US and Europe begin to expand their workforce globally via the freelancer and remote work marketplace, more solutions to such challenges will certainly be created.

On such solution comes from Argentine fintech startup Belo, which created a digital wallet to connect freelancers and remote workers into the global economy.

This week, the startup announced the launch of Automated Clearing House (ACH) transfers in US dollars (USD) directly to their users’ wallets. The move is meant to simplify the payment process for Latin American-based workers who earn income from the US, while also cutting out the middleman, and providing a “one-stop shop” to manage their finances, according to a company statement.

Manuel Beaudroit, CEO of Belo. Image credit: Belo.

“Latin American freelance workers now have a one-stop shop where they can receive payments from the US in the most simple way,” said Manuel Beaudroit, CEO of Belo. “We are determined to provide the most time and cost-efficient solution to this increasingly segment of the economy, which poses the opportunity to change the socio-economic tissue of the region. Once forgotten, LatAm workers now have a powerful tool to become a beacon of change globally.”

Beaudroit co-founded Belo during the height of the pandemic in 2020. The Belo app offers a number of different fiat and crypto currencies, including Bitcoin, Ethereum, Tether – a stablecoin tied to the US dollar.

With the new feature ACH transfer feature, users can open a dollar-receiving account in their Belo wallet. After setting up the account, they can start receiving ACH transfers, with a 2% transaction fee, according to the company.

The senders can range from personal US bank accounts to digital platforms such as Deel, Airbnb, YouTube, Upwork, Hotmart among others.

Once the funds are credited to the wallet, the company says that customers can use them as they wish. They may swap the coins, make purchases at physical and virtual merchants, or withdraw the money to a local bank account in their native currency in 14 countries in Latin America.

This new service will be available for users in 17 countries including Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Panama, Peru and Uruguay, among others, and reportedly has an annual subscription fee of $25.

In a statement, the company said it will soon expand its capabilities to include ACH transfers from business accounts. This means users can get paid directly from a US employer. Freelancers, remote workers, and entrepreneurs from all over the region will no longer need intermediaries or high-fee transfer services.

Image credit: Belo

Disclosure: This article mentions a client of an ESPACIO portfolio company.