September 30, 2020 | technology | No Comments
- Brazil-based neobank giant Nubank appears primed to launch in Colombia.
- Nubank’s experience in catering to underbanked yet tech-savvy populations will set it up for success in the market.
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While no official plans have been publicized, Peruvian newspaper La República unearthed commercial registrations that point toward the Brazilian neobank’s forthcoming entrance in the market, per BN Americas. A Colombian expansion would mark Nubank’s third market, following Brazil and Mexico. It also boasts a development hub in Argentina, though a full rollout was postponed amid the country’s economic downturn.
Nubank launched in 2013 with an early mover advantage as Brazil’s first neobank, and it has since replicated that success in Mexico. Nubank is the world’s largest neobank by customers and valuation, hitting 25 million users in June and a valuation of $10 billion as of its last funding round in July 2019.
It expanded to Mexico in May 2019, where it has seen rapid uptake: In Q1 2020, Nubank added an average of 42,000 users daily across both Brazil and Mexico, driven in part by the March launch in Mexico of its credit card to a waitlist of 30,000 people.
The neobank’s strategy of targeting underserved customers has supported its rapid growth. Nubank CEO David Vélez previously attributed Nubank’s success to the fact that it provides an uncommon service, saying that “personal finance tools in both Brazil and Mexico are so limited that Nubank has not had to spend a dollar on customer acquisition.”
In Brazil, 55 million consumers are underbanked, but 60% of the unbanked population have cell phone or internet access. And in Mexico, 42 million consumers are unbanked, but internet penetration stands at 67% in the country, which is almost 10 percentage points higher than the global average. That means digital-first services like Nubank’s are accessible to a wide base of tech-savvy consumers who aren’t already entrenched in an incumbent’s financial services ecosystem.
Colombia can offer an equally favorable environment for Nubank to continue building its customer base, and we expect it to find strong uptake there. Only 45% of Colombians aged 15 years or older have a bank account, but internet penetration at the end of 2017 stood at over 63%, setting up a sizable opportunity for digital banks.
And though Colombia boasts Latin America’s third-largest fintech ecosystem, it’s lacking in homegrown neobanks, setting up Nubank to take significant mindshare with its well-known brand name. With a lack of strong competition and a large underserved population, Colombia could become another success story for Nubank as it continues to shake up the Latin American financial services market.
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