After $2M Round, San Diego’s Quippi Aims to Disrupt Money Transfer

Each year, an estimated 6 million American households send money abroad to help support their families and friends around the world.

While major banks and companies like Western Union, MoneyGram, Xoom, PayPal, and Viamericas offer a variety of money transfer services at widely varying rates, Michael Aleles says he sees an opportunity to provide an alternative financial service. The startup Aleles founded in 2012, San Diego-based Quippi, offers gift cards in the United States that are intended for making purchases in Mexico.

“We don’t charge consumers anything for that service,” Aleles says. Instead, major retailers in Mexico pay Quippi to provide the cards—which can be used only to purchase merchandise at participating retailers. “It’s not a service that can be redeemed for cash,” Aleles says. Consumers can buy virtual cards on the Quippi website (activating a PIN code for use in Mexico) or at certain retail outlets in the United States.

The startup began offering its cards in December, and recently raised $2.2 million in a Series A round of venture capital led by San Diego-based Avalon Ventures. Accion, the New York microfinance lender affiliated with Accion International, also invested in the round. Altogether, Aleles has raised about $3 million since founding Quippi two years ago.

Quippi CEO Michael Aleles

Michael Aleles

Aleles, who previously led Latin American business development for PriceSmart and oversaw investments for Intel Capital and TerraSur Advisors, says conventional money transfer services take advantage of consumers by charging high transfer fees or low currency exchange rates—or both.

On the Quippi website, Aleles explains that after spending years living, working, and eventually marrying into a family in Latin America, he realized that “consumers who deserve a fair deal are usually the last to receive one. Millions of hard-working consumers in the U.S. support their families back home but it costs them far too much to do so. And so I thought, ‘Why can’t we put out a better … Next Page »

Bruce V. Bigelow is the editor of Xconomy San Diego. You can e-mail him at or call (619) 669-8788 Follow @bvbigelow

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