Brazil, a Hard Nut to Crack for Digital Banks?

  • Leandro Gimeno , Business Developer at Strands

  • 17.03.2017 12:45 pm
  • undisclosed , Leandro Gimeno is responsible for Strands business development in Latin America, including direct sales as well as creating an indirect revenue stream through partners.

Brazil, the Latin American superpower and force to be reckoned with. The Portuguese-speaking titan in the midst of a sea of Spanish speakers, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

A vast expanse of country with some 204 million inhabitants, Brazil is fundamentally self-sufficient and can afford not to look too far beyond its borders for innovative inspiration, not only because as far as innovation goes, they are some of the continent’s heavyweights, but also because the average Brazilian is a decidedly ‘local’ person. The choice of digital banking provider, in particular, is for most a no-brainer, opting for homegrown varieties over American or European alternatives. Could it be that the sheer size of the country and its densely populated major cities - São Paulo, the country’s financial hub, has a population of 40 million - leads Brazilians to veer towards more personalized, inward-looking banking services? Perhaps this is the only way they achieve a sense of being a marginally bigger fish in a somewhat smaller pond.

In comparison to their Spanish-speaking neighbours, they are infinitely more mobile; of the nearly 170m smartphone users country-wide, a staggering 60m are mobile banking customers. So is the banking system offering its users the bespoke experience they so clearly crave? Do they know where to find them to offer their services?

If you’re looking to target millennials on Facebook, that ship has long since sailed. For the average young adult, they’ve already moved on to Instagram and even then, that will be short-lived. The key is focusing on long-term strategy; it’s not enough to go where you think your target audience is, you’ve got to be there waiting when they reach their next destination.

Brazil has the benefit of not having fully tapped in to the huge potential of tailor-made online
banking or Personal Finance Management (PFM), and still having an important part of the population still to target. PFM, as its name suggests is highly-intuitive, adapting to the financial
needs of the end user, but also puts banks in a powerful position, now more able to pre-empt their bankers movements and build revenue by offering fitting solutions to their needs.

It is not a case of simply looking the part either: to offer the level of service that PFM requires,
banks need to work from the ground up, and should avoid attempting to reinvent the wheel themselves, running the risk of bypassing the all-essential user experience. In short, innovate quickly, before you’ve missed your window, but get help - preferably from expert niche companies rather than the larger corporation purely for reasons of familiarity or trust- as doing it yourself can be counterproductive and costly in the long run.


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