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Mexico's Incode gets unicorn status after $220 million funding round

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BOGOTA, Dec 7 (Reuters) - Verification and authentication platform Incode received $220 million in its latest funding round, the company's chief executive said on Tuesday, turning the company into Mexico's sixth tech unicorn.

Incode, which was founded in 2015 and develops verification software for banks, hotels, and hospitals, among others, is valued at $1.25 billion following the investment, allowing it to join the club of unicorns, which are startups valued at $1 billion or more.

Japan's SoftBank participated in the funding round with $70 million, while other investors included JP Morgan Technology Ventures, Coinbase Ventures and General Atlantic, CEO and founder Ricardo Amper told Reuters in an interview.

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"This will allow us to expand geographically, to keep improving the product, and to work on our mission of building trust in societies," Amper said.

The round marks a step-up in financing, after a first round in March drew $25 million in investments.

Incode is present in six countries outside Mexico: the United States, Brazil, Colombia, Argentina, Canada and the United Kingdom.

The investment will help push expansion into countries further afield in Europe and the Middle East, Amper said, as Incode takes advantage of growing interest in fintech.

At the same time, the coronavirus pandemic drove growth of biometric security, a trend Amper says is here to stay.

"With COVID bringing such a big change, where so much is going digital...I believe this is a defining moment," said Amper, 42. "The pandemic has gone on a long time and unfortunately it doesn't seem go be leaving anytime soon."

Incode will go through several more funding rounds before launching an initial public offer, probably in the medium-term, Amper said.

"These funds will go towards mergers and acquisitions, which will need additional capital in the coming years and, if all goes to plan, in a few years we'll be heading to the stock market," he said.

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Reporting by Nelson Bocanegra Writing by Oliver Griffin; Editing by Sam Holmes

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