Brazilian company Avante announced on Monday that it is acquiring Israeli startup Sling, which enables micro-businesses to benefit from a variety of financial capabilities through their smartphones. The price of the acquisition was not disclosed, but is estimated at $10 million.
Sling enables micro-businesses — including street salespeople, caregivers, fruit stand owners, home manufacturers and all sorts of self-employed people — to administer financial services directly from their smartphones, without contracts, hardware, or additional costs. Up until now, Sling has operated exclusively in Israel, currently serving thousands of small businesses. The startup expects to deploy its services in Brazil among 10,000 more merchants by the end of 2017.
The acquiring company also enables micro-businesses to obtain small loans (micro-credit) quickly. In this way, for example, a seamstress with a home sewing shop can obtain a loan quickly for buying another sewing machine without a bank and a long, laborious process.
The 21st century wallet
Sling actually provides a solution for both sides of the transaction: On the one hand, the business owner does not need a terminal, cash register, or special hardware to get paid, while a customer who forgot their wallet at home can buy a popsicle at the beach using a smartphone. Furthermore, customers can choose whether to pay by credit card or through their PayPal account, while the merchants get their profits deposited every week directly into their bank account or PayPal account, whichever they prefer.
Businesses using Sling’s services receive credit card clearance, an option for time payments, discounting, immediate crediting, and even the capability to manage a team of salespeople. Due to the mobile nature of most of these businesses, Sling supplies every business with a kit containing clearance stickers and a personal financial wristband with a smart code for them to wear. When being billed, the customer uses the app to scan the code and at the end of the process, which should take only a few seconds, the payment takes place securely and the customer is billed.
CEO Erez Yerushalmi, COO Yacov Cohen, CTO Tsadok Eliyahu, and VP R&D Michael Kessler founded Sling in 2014. The company, which currently has seven employees, has raised nearly $1 million to date from private angels and banks.
Following the acquisition, the company’s activity will move to Brazil, while its activity in Latin America will begin under the brand of the acquiring company – Avante. We asked Yerushalmi what has changed in the company since we first wrote about them, and he said that since that review, they had grown to serve thousands of micro-merchants, and had signed a strategic deal with ICC-Cal and a number of deals with entities in Brazil, Africa, and soon also in India.
In response to the acquisition, Yerushalmi said, “Avante is a natural partner for the vision we have built in Sling. The deal enables us to go on empowering the most disadvantaged groups in the new economy. In a world of banks and giant companies, small businesses are rapidly abandoned, and only making technology accessible to them can bridge the yawning gap that has been created among poor people.”