Bloomberg Línea — Nomad, a US banking account fintech focused on Brazilians, said Monday that it raised $32 million (R$160 million) in an extension of a round led by the US venture capital fund Stripes accompanied by Monashees, Spark Capital, Propel, Globo Ventures and Abstract. With the round, the company is valued at $200 million.
Behind Nomad is iFood co-founder Patrick Sigrist. He says that the fintech idea came about when he lived in Silicon Valley. “Living abroad came this need. The accounts here in Brazil are dominated by banks, which have 90% of the market, and they are not interested in giving you access to the global financial world. But living abroad is difficult to make a payment, send money,” he said, in an interview with Bloomberg Línea.
When he returned to Brazil, Sigrist was one of the first investors in the Brazilian neobank Neon (now a unicorn after BBVA’s invested $200 million) and approached the fintech market. Sigrist’s partner, Lucas Vargas, CEO and co-founder of Nomad, also has a history of entrepreneurship. When he was doing his master’s degree in the United States, he tried to launch an “American Groupon”, which didn’t work very well. He ended up joining Groupon in Brazil and also had stints in executive positions at Zap Imóveis and OLX.
Nomad was born in 2020 with the proposal to be “a bank” that would allow Brazilians to have a dollar account. Vargas and Sigrist used their own capital to launch the company and then raised two rounds totaling about $7.5 million with angels and VCs.
With 260 people on the team, the company demands capital. “For us, it was not difficult to fundraise. There’s still a lot of money in the funds’ hands, and that money needs to be allocated somehow. What is changing is the requirement for companies that are not profitable to become profitable,” said Sigrist.
He believes that Nomad’s economics is well positioned in this regard because the company operates with a dollar-denominated financial product. “It’s something that has a high margin, that has good customers, and that adds to the traction we had,” he said.
For Vargas, the last three months of Nomad were inversely proportional to the market climate, with great acceleration in the number of clients. At the end of the first year of operation, from October to November 2021, the company reached 100,000 accounts. From November to April this year, the startup has already reached 300,000 accounts, tripling its customer base in six months. The company’s focus is on individuals and the goal is to reach 1 million users using the app.
“When we initially launched in the middle of the pandemic, what was a challenge that became an opportunity. There was a very large adoption by those who were in Brazil even without traveling who used the card to make international purchases and have the benefit of IOF and freight savings”.
As the card is not Brazilian, the tax on transactions abroad is lower. Fintech charges 1% on the transaction, and its remuneration comes, in addition to the spread, from the interchange fees charged when using the debit card. Another target audience of the startup is international travelers and Brazilian professionals who receive salaries in dollars from foreign companies.
Like the other digital banks that emerged in the wake of Nubank, Nomad offers a fee-free digital account and a debit card. The company does not yet offer credit, but that is in the plans.
The US account is insured by the FDIC (Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation). “If we go bankrupt, which won’t happen, our client’s account will be guaranteed up to US$ 250,000″, explains Vargas.
In Brazil, the fintech market for domestic payments has grown, and the same goes for startups with cross-border accounts and payments. XP launched a dollar investment account, competing with Avenue Securities. Wise, the British Revolut, and Remessa Online, bought by Ebanx, also offer an account in dollars and other currencies. But, for Sigrist, Nomad’s differential is that the company knows the Brazilian market.
Fintech recently released an update to the platform that makes it easier for you to buy individual stocks and ETFs abroad. “At the time of iFood we also had four much bigger competitors from abroad, with much more money than us and who tried to enter Brazil. I think it’s super important to know the market. We have several competitions in different ways. We don’t want to be the best investment bank in Brazil. But, abroad, we propose to be the best possible solution in hard currency for any Brazilian”.