São Paulo — With the reopening of borders, Brazilians once again are asking themselves: how can I buy foreign currency? More cautious travelers still feel safer taking actual bills with them in their wallets or purses, in fear of blockages, loss of credit cards, and lack of access to their bank accounts through apps or the internet abroad. Having bills for unanticipated events, small purchases or tips is still a habit that survives the digitization of finance.
In the foreign exchange market, brokers are looking for more practical solutions and incentives to serve clients with such profile. For instance, Frente Corretora de Câmbio, owner of the Câmbio Online brand, an e-commerce of foreign currencies, signed a deal with Smiles, travel platform and loyalty program of the airline Gol, to provide miles on purchases of foreign currency and international remittance. On the other hand, Travelex Confidence joined TecBan – the owner of Banco24Horas, who operates 24/7 ATMs – to offer the option to withdraw euros at ATMs in the city of São Paulo.
First of all, you need to research the exchange rate in your city. Then, you can compare the amounts provided by Câmbio Online or another fintech in the industry before deciding whether or not it is a good deal. Bear in mind that the forex rate is not the only thing to be taken into account when calculating your expenses. The cost of the operation on Câmbio Online also includes a rate of 1.10% of the tax on financial operations (IOF, in Portuguese) and a fee for delivering the money to the location determined by the customer (R$39 – approximately US$7 – for delivery in downtown São Paulo). The amount varies according to the distance from the broker’s distribution center to the delivery location chosen by the customer and covers expenses with logistics and security, according to the broker.
To carry out a transaction, you must register your personal information on the Smiles website, which then redirects you to the Câmbio Online page. The consumer has an option to pay by PIX (an instant payment method) or wire transfer of immediately available funds (TED). For international remittance, you can use your debit card. Pay attention to delivery times and your schedule. “Due to high demand for bills these days, cash is scarce across the market. The deadline for the delivery of your order has been temporarily changed to up to 5 working days after payment confirmation”, according to Câmbio Online’s website. You must know who will receive the bills beforehand. “For transactions in excess of R$10,000 (approximately US$1,700), the purchaser must be responsible for receiving it, i.e., the recipient’s ID number must be the same as the one informed by the person making the purchase”, warns the Câmbio Online website.
The customer also has the option of withdrawing the bills at an ATM indicated by the broker and at a time scheduled by the customer. In the city of São Paulo, there are two places available (Shopping Parque da Cidade and Shopping Nações Unidas). In this case, it is necessary to wait up to three business days from payment confirmation. In addition to offering bills, the service also makes international remittances.
“We consider Smiles a strategic partner in our commitment to reaching people who are looking for a safe, light and accessible experience in foreign exchange transactions. With our advanced technology and an anti-fraud system, we are able to facilitate international remittances and the purchase or sale of currency through our delivery system and our ATMs, already installed in the main capitals and cities of the country. By the end of 2022, we will have expanded and reached 300 units”, says Carlos Brown, partner and manager at Câmbio Online.
The portfolio offers the possibility to buy up to 21 currencies (US dollar, Canadian dollar, New Zealand dollar, Australian dollar, euro, pound sterling, Danish krone, Swedish krona, Norwegian krone, Swiss franc, Japanese yen, Argentine peso, Colombian peso, Chilean Peso, Uruguayan Peso, Mexican Peso, Dirham, South African Rand, Ruble, Shekel and Chinese Yuan).
Quotes vary between the eight cities where the service is available (São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Belo Horizonte, Niterói, Porto Alegre, Cuiabá, Curitiba and Brasília). For exotic currencies, you must wait for the broker’s response about availability. In this category, one that stands out is the Dirhan, the official currency of Dubai, the largest city in the United Arab Emirates, which pleased high-income Brazilian travelers.
In a simulation carried out on the Smiles website, the purchase of US$ 500 in bills yielded 1,133 miles for a customer in the silver tier. The reward depends on which Smiles tier the customer is in. The top tier (diamond) yields 5,786 miles when you purchase US$2,000.
Travelex Confidence, on the other hand, is betting on the option of withdrawing euros and dollars at ATMs, which is already available to anyone, not limited to bank account holders. The company claims to be the first forex broker to close a deal with Banco24H to offer self-service. At first, nine terminals are operational in the city of São Paulo, and other 200 locations are expected to have terminals within the next few years, according to the financial institution.
Banco24Horas exclusive ATMs for this service are identified in gray, with the dollar and euro symbols. The initiative is part of the growth plan for phygital operations, which combine digital and face-to-face service, as ATM withdrawals can be made from transactions carried out via the website, application and by telephone.
“The advantage is that the customer does not need to have a checking account at any bank to withdraw from ATMs. All you have to do is purchase the currency through the broker’s remote channels, at lower rates than traditional banks not specialized in foreign exchange”, says Jorge Arbex, CPO at Travelex Confidence.
With over 100 stores in all regions of the country, Travelex hopes to further expand its operations and increase its physical presence with the implementation of another 200 ATMs. According to the broker, the move should generate 20% growth in digital sales next year, with about 5,000 transactions per month. Transactions are valid on purchases starting at $100 or €100, with a limit of 2,000 in either currency.
“Although the discovery of omicron has triggered an international alert, the tourism sector is resuming activities, with a movement similar to that registered in 2019. In November 2021, sales of dollars and euros grew 47% compared to the same period in 2020 and 40% compared to 2019. We are optimistic”, says Jorge.
The nine Banco24Horas Foreign Currency ATMs are currently located in the following malls of São Paulo: Cidade Jardim, Bourbon, Villa Lobos, Pamplona and Tietê Plaza.
For Vitor Chiavelli, business development and relationship director at TecBan, the new solution is in line with the strategy of increasingly expanding Banco24Horas’ services to the population. “The partnership with Confidence shows that our solution is available to the entire market, contributing to the increased capillarity and meeting customer needs. The expectation is to further expand the service, considered an option with high added value for our partners”, he concludes.