Blog Article

Founder Journeys: Mary Saracco, Founder of Latamex


Caroline Young

Publishing date

Founder journeys



Our Founder Journeys explore the brilliant minds building real-world blockchain solutions on Stellar. So many of the innovations taking place on blockchain are built by people looking to address problems that have long persisted in communities they care about.

The fourth subject of the Founder Stories is Mary Saracco, Co-Founder and CFO of Latamex. Her career at financial institutions such as UBS and the World Bank Group has taken Mary around the world, but she has always felt connected to her home in Argentina. To open greater economic opportunities for those in her home region, Mary co-founded Latamex, the largest fiat gateway in Latin America.

Learn more about Mary’s founder journey and how her globetrotting experiences led her to build a company that empowers her home region. Read on!

Caroline: What was the pivotal moment that led you to found Latamex?

Mary: A pivotal moment in my life was when I was working at the World Bank. And at that time I was traveling all around the world. I had previously lived in Paris, London, DC, Miami, and San Francisco. I spent quite a lot of time in Asia as well, in Seoul, Beijing, Shanghai, Singapore.

I would experience the same situation where I am in a foreign place and I need to pay in a foreign currency. I’d find myself needing to either call my bank, asking them for permission to spend money abroad or calling my credit card company, letting them know that I'm traveling and I need to pay in this currency, or just even going to an FX exchange and trying to exchange cash. At all those points, I realized that there was tremendous friction and opening a bank account abroad has a lot of requirements.

You have to pass through so many levels of compliance and KYC. And sometimes they even ask you for proof of address. But if you're new to that city, you don't have a proof of address because you don't rent or own a place. So you're in this triangle of infinity where, to open a bank account, you need to have a proof of address, but in order to rent an apartment, you need to have a bank account.

That sounds so frustrating. Especially in a place where you might not speak the language.

At that time I said, how can it be that I am not the true owner of my money? It’s in the bank, and I need to keep calling the bank to allow me to use my own funds. That combined with my brother talking to me about Stellar became my “aha!” moment. I said, “Wow, this is where we need to go. This is where I should put all my effort in: concentrate on providing blockchain-enabled services for people in Latin America.”

Where was your favorite place to live?

My favorite place to live is a plane. I love to travel, but I love Buenos Aires – I’m from there. I invite everybody to come if you want to come, please call me. We'll host you a barbecue, a good asado.

I’ve heard so many good things about the barbeques in Argentina!

Yes, barbeques in Argentina are legendary. But I cannot live without pasta.

<laugh> Besides pasta, what are three things you care about? Professional or personally.

What I’ve learned from a very young age, being exposed to the Latin American market and economic and political volatility, is the importance of financial freedom. But the importance of financial freedom also depends on financial inclusion. And financial inclusion depends on financial education and literacy.

Those are three pillars for me that I strive to work towards every day. And at Latamex, we strongly believe in those three pillars moving forward and allowing financial inclusion to happen, providing all of these different solutions on our platform for other people.

What is your biggest dream?

World peace. <laugh> That's like the Miss Congeniality answer, right? My biggest, biggest dream would be financial freedom. My mother has been a lifetime mentor of mine, and she always tells me that financial freedom is extremely important, especially for women.

And this is something I have been working on every single day of my life and something I strive constantly to give to other people: by building different tools, either via gateways, on/off ramps, or payment processors to allow access to different financial instruments, all across Latin America.

What's your approach to team building? What do you look for in people that you are looking to hire?

When I'm looking to hire people, I look for three main traits. One of them is curiosity, and another one is diversity of thought. I also look for critical thinkers.

Most underrated skill in blockchain and crypto?

Resourcefulness and patience.


We’ve got some more Founder Journeys lined up for the next couple of weeks, so stay tuned! But while you’re waiting, you can check out Stellar’s vibrant ecosystem of projects and partners here.

And if you’re itching for more video content, you can catch Mary’s interview and other entrepreneur and developer-related content here.