It’s been a busy summer for Kitchener-based Vambora.

The startup entered partnerships with fellow fintechs KOHO and Neo Financial, was accepted into the IFH Lab program, and was among the 25 startups shortlisted to compete for the Digital Commerce Calgary Fintech Award.

“We’re excited to partner with Neo and KOHO, two major Canadian fintechs, to demonstrate how open banking can be a game-changer for unlocking economic opportunities and creating financial inclusion among credit-invisible individuals in North America,” Amadeu Ferreira, CEO and co-founder of Vambora, said.

Open banking enables banks and financial institutions to share their data with third-party developers through application programming interfaces (APIs) to create new financial products and services.

“Vambora is well-positioned to take the lead in building the first global financial identity system powered by open banking,” Ferreira said. “Our first use-case is in the immigration space, because all newcomers and international students need access to housing and credit products to settle in Canada.”

​​Located in the Communitech Hub in Kitchener's Innovation District, Vambora is in the business of innovating traditional credit-check systems by creating “trust profiles” that help international students and immigrants satisfy a landlord’s rental housing requirements and establish credit histories with financial institutions.

Ferreira has first-hand experience with the challenges involved in moving to a new country. 

“I personally experienced the challenges of relocating from Brazil to Canada without an established credit history,” said Ferreira, who moved here in 2016. “To overcome this hurdle, I had to rebuild some existing relationships.”

He and his co-founders launched Vambora in September 2021 to “build trust beyond borders.” 

“Working with Mark Dickens, co-founder and CSO of Vambora, we launched the project to address the increasing demand for immigrants to access the market, particularly in the housing sector, where landlords often request upfront payments due to a lack of trust,” Ferreira said. 

Vambora’s trust solutions are currently available to newcomers from 20 countries. 

“It is like a digital financial passport,” Ferreira said. “This comprehensive approach helps both consumers and businesses, including fintech companies, financial institutions and property management companies.”

Vambora’s process is simple and user-friendly, the company says. Customers sign up through the website, creating an account without any charges. 

The company is in a closed-beta phase, which means that access to the trust profile is restricted to those referred by affiliate partners or businesses, including property management companies. It’s gearing up to launch an open beta in the second half of this year. 

“During the open-beta phase, any property management company or landlord will be able to underwrite consumers using the trust profile,” Ferreira said. “We are excited to make this feature widely available and simplify the process for all parties involved.”

Vambora recently announced partnerships with both Neo Financial and KOHO, two Canadian fintech’s that provide alternative services to those offered by banks and other traditional financial institutions.

Without in-person identity verification, newcomers to Canada have difficulty accessing their bank accounts and other financial services. 

Ferreira ran into similar challenges when coming to Canada. While looking for accommodation, he was not able to provide a direct deposit form and could not secure housing. 

He and Dickens believe that working with Neo will remove this “blocker” as newcomers will get immediate access to bank accounts and other services, such as direct deposit forms. 

“This was a key reason for our enthusiasm in partnering with Neo,” Dickens said. “With a digital card and identity verification, newcomers can use their funds and accounts right away, making their relocation journey much smoother.”

The partnership with KOHO provides similar convenience to Vambora customers.

"We are an alternative to credit checks, but we don't replace credit as a whole,” Ferreira said. “That's why we announced this partnership with KOHO— to help newcomers build their credit history faster and provide security and ease in managing finances."

In other news, Vambora has been accepted into the Montreal-based IFH Lab, an accelerator program that provides fintech startups with a comprehensive program to guide them through the various stages of their company's growth. 

“We're excited that we've been accepted to the program,” Dickens said. “It obviously comes with resources and mentorship and a full program to help you work through the stages of your company and get to where we're looking to go as a company."

Vambora was also among 25 Canadian fintechs selected from over 150 applications to compete for the Digital Commerce Calgary Fintech Award. The program, which includes cash prizes totaling more than $300,000, connects fintechs with a roster of advisors, mentors and judges to accelerate the growth of their business. 

Vambora has received funding and support from Forum Ventures, and is currently speaking with potential investors.

“We want to hire engineers, developers, designers, and people in marketing and compliance,” Ferreira said. “We want our model to be scalable and support more users. We need people to have a fully built-out product.”

Going forward, Vambora plans to add AI and data analytics that enable them to present concise information to service providers and generate a unique score that users can potentially compare with their credit score. 

“We hope to have different kinds of financial services for people relocating to Canada,” Ferreira said. “We could be a one-stop shop for newcomers.”