August 25, 2017
"Brazil's FinTechs are likely not only to solve local problems but also to tackle the challenges of the global market," says André Victor Barrence, the Head of Campus São Paulo, a Google space where entrepreneurs connect, learn and develop startups that want to change the world.
Google has just launched a program in São Paulo to bring FinTech founders from all over Latin America to a month-long immersion called. André, one of those responsible for the initiative, sees an "absurdly big growth" in the FinTech sector. As well as noting the differences between Brazil and London finance startups (the first city to have one of the Campuses), the Head of Campus Sao Paulo explains what Google expects from companies that are selected to become part of the Campus Residents program.
How do you see the FinTech ecosystem in Brazil today?
André Barrence: As a whole, the ecosystem of startups in Brazil has made significant progress. But some sectors have grown absurdly big, and FinTech is one of them.
We have the flowering of many initiatives that can solve different problems in the financial sector. This growth started towards payment means, but today there are FinTech startups innovating in such segments as cryptocurrency exchange, debt negotiations and credit. The spectrum has increased a lot.
Brazil has a lot of problems in financial services, and the size of the problems translate into the size of the opportunities. FinTechs in Brazil are determined to generate a process of decentralization [of the financial sector] and attend to an audience that was under-served or not even attended to.
You are in touch with startups from other Google Campuses in different parts of the world. Do you see differences between FinTechs in Brazil and those in other countries?
André Barrence: Certainly, one of the benefits of having a Campus network is to capture what is happening in different ecosystems. It is normal for each Campus to have a vocation.
The London Campus, which was first created in 2012, has always had a lot of startups linked to financial services. An interesting feature is that the London ecosystem is well-connected to large banks. There, FinTechs generate innovation for more traditional services.
In Brazil, FinTechs create different solutions, which are more specific to the needs of local customers, and end up entering markets that are quite different from those in London. For example, Easycredito focuses on serving a market that has great difficulties in securing credit. Besides, interest rates in Brazil are high and banks require a lot to lend.
Another example is Moneto. It has an audience that is extremely relevant, which are the MEIs (Individual Micro Entrepreneurs). They make up an important part of the economy, but financial services with a specific technology for this type of customer were still lacking.
What do you expect from a FinTech when you are selecting resident startups for Campus São Paulo?
André Barrence: The resident program is agnostic in terms of sectors. We analyze FinTechs with the same approach as the other startups. We look for startups with an existing product, although it is hardly 100% finished, and search for startups that have a certain number of users – some tens of thousands.
The second criterion is the technology behind that product. For example, we try to know whether companies use artificial intelligence or machine learning or whether they have mobile solutions for service delivery. We believe that mobile services, which are already large, will become even bigger. At Campus San Paulo, we always seek this combination of technologies.
One of the startups that combine these features is Smarttbot, a company that operates with high-frequency variable income. The automation they develop makes the process more efficient because the robot learns and even draws out psychological factors that a human would have when trading on the stock exchange. The company already has many users and leverages a very advanced technology.
What is the perspective for the Brazilian FinTech ecosystem?
André Barrence: The FinTech market has the potential to set the Brazilian ecosystem in a leading position in Latin America and other emerging countries with similar socioeconomic characteristics. Brazilian FinTechs are likely not only to solve local problems but also to tackle the challenges of the global market.
This content was published in partnership with StartSe, a reputable Brazilian website that focuses on startups. The portal contains the StartSe Base, the largest database of startups in Brazil, with more than 5,000 registered companies.