My guest today is Sebastian Kanovich, CEO of payments company dLocal. Sebastian founded dLocal in 2016 to bridge the infrastructure gap between payments in developed and emerging markets. Since then, the initially bootstrapped start-up has enabled global merchants like Uber, Spotify, and Google to service billions of emerging market users. And in doing so, dLocal has created $10bn of equity market value, having IPOd last year. Our discussion covers dLocal’s playbook for facilitating payments in emerging countries, what Sebastian has learned about great API building, and how he challenges himself to improve personally. Please enjoy my conversation with Sebastian Kanovich.
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[00:02:13] - [First question] - His take on global payments, what is interesting about this system today, and dLocal’s role within it
[00:04:06] - Approaching a country that could benefit from low-friction payments and the playbook for helping them improve their system
[00:06:10] - Differences between being an API business versus a protocol one
[00:07:13] - What companies handle these systems outside of emerging markets and why they haven’t entered the emerging market space
[00:08:59] - A specific example of the steps involved in getting a country integrated into global payments for an app or service provider
[00:11:22] - Whether or not they interact with consumers
[00:12:09] - The trading and foreign exchange component of global transactions
[00:13:16] - Country specific product teams and consolidating their process
[00:14:52] - What he would look for in early-stage payment companies to invest in
[00:16:23] - Defining excellent when it comes to working with regulators and regulatory environments
[00:17:53] - Their role in digital globalization and trends that might arise in the future
[00:19:52] - Ways that low-friction payments have helped accelerate regional innovation
[00:21:31] - The unit economics and costs of a single payment
[00:24:05] - What the source of cost is to process a payment or transaction
[00:25:10] - Variables in currencies that make them desirable to work with
[00:26:38] - Lessons learned from distribution and customer acquisition of their service
[00:29:23] - Advice he would give to developers building API products
[00:31:16] - An example of wanting to build a function into an API that was never built
[00:32:40] - How they’ve been able to move and scale so fast
[00:34:23] - Ways their business could most improve
[00:35:14] - The operating system he uses to run the company
[00:36:38] - Ways he’s most improved or gotten better as a CEO over the years
[00:37:58] - Why deep humility is such an integral part of his character
[00:38:30] - The biggest mistake they’ve ever made as a business and what they learned
[00:39:20] - The kindest thing anyone has ever done for him