Sao Paulo — In the battle for the attention of Brazilians seeking global financial solutions, Revolut is making a strategic move to fuel its market penetration. To that end, the most valuable fintech company in Europe is redefining its approach to this new market, as it continues to boost investment outside of its home continent, the firm’s Country Manager, Glauber Mota, said. In an interview with Bloomberg Línea, Mota emphasized that Brazilian customers’ demands in the realm of foreign currency services are seeing a clear shift.
“We’re seeing demand to expand our offshore product offering, mainly for investment [services], from interest-bearing accounts in foreign currency to other assets. Clients already keep their money offshore with the global account and want to see returns as well,” said Mota.
Revolut aims to tap into the estimated stock of R$250 billion to R$300 billion (US$52-62 billion) currently held abroad by individual Brazilians, expecting to do so not only by expanding its range of services, but also by enhancing the app’s usability. Mota stressed, “By any metric, the opportunity is huge. That’s why we decided to prioritize the supply of such products.”
Venturing into the competitive landscape of foreign investments for retail clients, Revolut will face off with established players like Avenue, C6 Bank, Inter, Wise, Nomad, BTG Pactual, XP, and traditional banks such as Bradesco. However, Mota believes Revolut’s strength lies in its commitment to an exceptional user experience, a diverse product portfolio, and a cost-effectiveness derived from the scale of a global operation spanning 38 countries, including the European Economic Area, the United States, the United Kingdom, Japan, Australia, and Brazil.
Revolut’s distinctive approach to currency exchange sets it apart from many Brazilian financial institutions. While traditional banks often charge a spread on the exchange rate that diminishes with higher transaction volumes, Revolut maintains a consistent spread, ensuring competitive exchange rates even for clients with smaller deposit levels, such as R$10, noted Mota.
Identifying three primary customer profiles, Mota outlined Revolut’s focus on individuals planning foreign travel, those earning income abroad, and individuals engaging in peer-to-peer remittances, a common practice in Latin America. Notably, research by the fintech suggests untapped potential among Brazilians traveling abroad for three to twelve months, a segment where six out of ten still rely on cash.
Reflecting on the first seven months of operations in Brazil, Mota highlighted the unexpected volume of demand, though with lower frequency than anticipated. The user base turned out to be broader and more diverse than expected, concentrated mainly in the Southeast and South regions. Mota attributed this diversity to the appealing lower spread cost of around 2%.
Additionally, unexpected trends emerged, such as a higher-than-anticipated volume of currency conversion from reais to euros. Mota linked this phenomenon to the sizable Brazilian expatriate community in Europe and the app’s popularity on the continent. Revolut proudly claims to be the most downloaded finance app in nine European countries.
Looking ahead, Revolut plans to conclude 2023 with approximately 100 professionals hired in Brazil, more than double the initial workforce at the start of commercial operations in May. The company is preparing to relocate its São Paulo offices to accommodate this expanded team.
In terms of new functionalities, Revolut aims to incorporate user feedback into its offerings in 2024. This includes enabling currency exchange from real to other currencies, not solely restricted to the dollar. The fintech has also streamlined its document verification process to reduce user friction and adjusted its transaction limits to address customer needs more effectively.
While Revolut advances its investment offerings, it defers the introduction of other functionalities, such as a marketplace for foreign currency products, to a later date. The prospect of offering “local” products, made possible by obtaining an SCD (Sociedade de Crédito Direto) license from the Central Bank, is also part of the long-term roadmap.
Regarding crypto-assets, Mota acknowledged that the demand for converting values to various crypto-assets did not surpass expectations. However, he emphasized that Revolut’s positioning is aligned with preparing for the future of finance. The functionality remains available, acknowledging that it might become more mainstream in the coming years.
In navigating the Brazilian market, Revolut prioritizes a financially sustainable operation. Mota outlined the strategy to grow with products that offer a positive gross margin, ensuring profitability from the outset, coupled with an emphasis on delivering a superior customer experience. Notably, Revolut chose not to initiate operations with credit-based products or offerings requiring substantial funding to keep the cost of capital low.
As Revolut unveils its plans in Brazil, it coincides with the release of its global operational figures for 2022. The fintech achieved US$1.1 billion in revenue, marking a 45% YoY growth, with projections to reach the US$2 billion milestone in 2023. After achieving breakeven in 2021 and 2022, Revolut anticipates a double-digit net profit margin in 2023, underscoring its commitment to sustained growth and profitability.
These global figures, according to Mota, demonstrate Revolut’s ability to support its expansion strategy in Brazil. The success of the global operation reinforces the viability of introducing credit and other financial products in the Brazilian market.
Revealing key investment data, Revolut invested US$265 million for growth in 2022, with a significant portion allocated to developing new products. The company’s expansion plans extend beyond Brazil, with the introduction of a “light” version of the app in Chile in mid-2023, offering remittance and crypto asset services. While the specifics of Revolut’s performance in Brazil in 2023 are yet to be disclosed, Mota emphasized the country’s contribution to the global customer base, which surpassed 35 million by the end of the year, up from 28 million in May when the fintech debuted in Brazil.