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Goldman Sachs Sees Big Potential for Fintech in Brazil

Brazil is experiencing a wave of growth in financial technology that will most likely eat into the market share of the country’s huge and long untouchable banks, a new report from Goldman Sachs says.

Entitled “Fintech Brazil’s Moment,” the 45-page research report estimates that the more than 200 financial technology companies in Brazil should generate a potential revenue pool of about $24 billion over the next 10 years. Payments, lending and personal finance are three promising segments, as is insurance, the report found.

The report is a rare in-depth look at a sector that has received much attention and investment capital here but little serious analysis.

The impact from fintech disruption is expected to be greater in Brazil than in many other countries because of its highly concentrated banking sector, the report says.

“We believe the Brazilian financial system is particularly susceptible,” wrote the report’s authors, Carlos G. Macedo, Marcelo Cintra, Steven Goncalves and Nelson Catala.

The Goldman Sachs economists cited what they called “an oligopolistic market structure” in Brazil where the top five banks, excluding development banks, hold 84 percent of total loans. In retail branch banking, the top five banks have 90 percent of branches. That is up from 71 percent in 2007, the report said, observing that “the market has become more concentrated since the financial crisis” of 2008.

By contrast, in the United States, the top five banks hold just about 20 percent of all branches. In India, that figure is slightly over 30 percent, and in Turkey it is just under 30 percent. Mexico and Russia are also less concentrated than Brazil.

In Brazil, fees and interest rates for loans are also among the highest in the world.

“We believe this unique market structure positions fintechs to have a larger impact in Brazil than in other developed markets,” the report said.

The analysis is consistent with other recent market developments.

Venture capital investments in fintech companies in Brazil have been increasing. Private equity firms are also taking note. In March, the American private equity firm Advent International acquired a minority stake in Easynvest.

“We expect a lot more in the space to happen in the near future,” Isaias Sznifer, managing director at the boutique advisory firm Greenhill & Company in Brazil, said in an interview.

The report also comes on the heels of a major deal in Brazil’s financial services sector. Last week, one the country’s largest banks, Itaú Unibanco Holding, agreed to take a significant minority stake in the independent financial services and brokerage firm XP Investimentos for about $2 billion.

Brazilian banks are not expected to stay complacent as their upstart challengers gain ground, the Goldman Sachs economists said. That could mean copying some of their offerings or investing in them.

The report also contends that the growth of financial technology companies in Brazil will lead to a decrease in loan spreads and bank fees.

“In our view, the rise of fintechs is likely to spur incumbent banks to invest heavily in I.T., reducing costs and improving efficiency,” the report said, adding that “we see their impact starting now.”

Because of that, the economists said that while “in 10 years we expect incumbent banks to lose market share,” the effect should not be perilous. “We do not expect significant pressure on growth or profitability for large retail banks, despite market share loss and price pressure.”

The Goldman Sachs report cited Banco Original, a digital bank, and Nubank as leaders in fintech in Brazil.

Nubank, which provides a digital credit card, was formed in 2013 in São Paulo. Its initial financing came that year from the Silicon Valley stalwart Sequoia Capital and from Kaszek Ventures in Buenos Aires. It has since secured funding from investors including Peter Thiel’s Founders Fund and the Russian firm DST Global, both firms’ debut investments in Brazil.

The report’s authors see the case of Nubank setting an example, which spurred Banco Bradesco and Santander Brasil among others to push competing products.

“Nubank’s development followed a path that we believe may be replicated in several segments,” the report said.

Source: NY Times

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