MEXICO CITY, Aug 30 (Reuters) - Latin American delivery app Rappi plans to almost double the number of cities it operates in by year's end, its co-founder said on Friday, following a $1 billion injection from Japan's SoftBank that signals growing foreign interest in the region.
The deal in May made SoftBank a majority owner in the five-year-old startup that specializes in on-demand deliveries for restaurants and supermarkets, Rappi co-founder and President Sebastian Mejia told Reuters.
"We're close to 55 cities now, eight countries," he said. "We plan to accelerate that."
Founded in 2015 in Colombia, Rappi also operates in Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, Chile, Peru, Uruguay and Costa Rica.
The company plans to reach close to 100 cities by the end of the year, a spokeswoman for Rappi said.
Tie-ups with other startups in the SoftBank portfolio could be a possibility down the road, Mejia said, naming sectors such as healthcare, hospitality, travel and automation as possible areas to consider.
For now, Rappi is in talks with at least 10 other SoftBank-backed firms across various sectors, including in the United States and Asia, to share ideas and best practices, Mejia said.
SoftBank has also invested in ridesharing firm Uber and office-space provider WeWork in the United States as well as e-commerce giant Alibaba and rideshare company Didi Chuxing in China.
The Rappi deal was SoftBank's first splash in Latin America after creating a $5 billion fund focusing on the region. It has also invested smaller amounts in other startups.
"Rappi ... is basically their anchor investment in the region," Mejia said of SoftBank.
In addition to its geographic expansion, Rappi is working to add banking services that could include loans, credits and insurance, Mejia said. The move would address Latin America's vast population that lacks bank accounts, and the many others who are wary of shopping online.
"We are not just a logistics company," Mejia said. "We have a broad range of vision that includes fintech and banking." (Reporting by Daina Beth Solomonl Editing by Will Dunham)