Bertrand and Roy Sosa, brothers who founded prepaid-card provider NetSpend Corp., have formed Mpower Venture LP, a venture-capital fund dedicated to investing in companies that help financially underserved consumers around the world.
Mpower announced June 23 that it has invested in Sapphire Mobile Systems, a Philadelphia-based company that provides mobile-banking and mobile-payments products. Under the terms of the investment, Mpower will rename the company Mpower Mobile Inc. and move its headquarters to Austin, Texas.
Bertrand Sosa, managing partner of Mpower Ventures, tells Prepaid Trends that despite the headquarters move and name change, Mpower is not buying Sapphire outright. The founders of the company are still running it and asked to change the name so that they could market the company better and by associating it with other Mpower investments worldwide, Betrand Sosa says.
"The Mpower name is carrying a certain type of equity that the Sapphire guys thought, 'If we're knock on doors with Mpower mobile, then we are going to go in that door with that flag,'" he says. "It is more of a way for them to accelerate their effort."
Mpower Ventures also announced on the same day an investment in Rev Worldwide, which is based in Austin, Texas, and is comprised of three companies: RevEurope Payments Ltd., Rev Latin America Inc. and Rev Asia Pacific.
Roy Sosa serves as CEO of Mpower ventures and chairman of Rev Worldwide.
The companies provide payments processing, marketing services and distribution to payments companies in their respective regions.
Other principals of the fund are Jorge Vergara Madrigal, the owner of Grupo Omnilife, a Mexican dietary supplements manufacturer; the Chivas soccer club of Guadalajara, Mexico; and the Chivas soccer club of U.S. Major League Soccer in Los Angeles.
The fund, which also is based in Austin, plans to invest an average of $5 to $10 million in early-stage companies with the figure tied to the returns the companies would earn and the social benefits they would provide in helping underserved consumers meet their financial needs, Roy Sosa says.
Mpower's first investment led to the formation of Mpower Labs, a research and consulting company to help the start-ups in which Mpower Ventures invests, Roy Sosa says.
Mpower Labs helps companies test their ideas and work out problems so the companies reach profitability more quickly, he says.
The company plans to establish offices on every continent except Antarctica by the end of the year, Bertrand Sosa says. "If there were penguins that could use debit cards, we would go into that part of the world," Roy Sosa says.