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From Real Estate To Customer-Focused Banking, This Bank Hopes To Bring Its Revolutionary Model From Brazil To The U.S.

In a country that has players like Itau Unibanco Holding SA (NYSE: ITUB) and Banco Bradesco SA (NYSE: BBD), Banco Inter SA Unit (NASDAQ: INTR) says it has laid a strong foundation that is helping it expand financial services to cover people who traditionally have been left behind because of unfriendly banking bureaucracies. 

What could be earning Inter&Co its stripes is the bank’s efforts to help revolutionize the financial service industry with a key focus on financial inclusion. And now, they want to take it and replicate that method right here in the U.S.

A Super App?

From the get-go, the bank saw itself as a complete platform that simplifies people’s lives. It provides a cocktail of services from free digital accounts and online shopping to investments and cross-border payments that people can access straight from their phones.

From 2020 to now, the bank has welcomed more than 6 million new customers, adding up to 20 million people who the bank says trust its work and believe that life can be easier. Inter says it has merged its services into what it calls a Super App that offers a wide variety of features and tools its customers can use daily. 

The app includes banking, credit, insurance, investments and e-commerce functions aimed at simplifying people’s lives, something Inter states it is committed to in the coming years as it seeks to consolidate its position in the Brazilian banking sector.

27 app versions were released in 2021, with special attention to UX improvements, new app features, service automation with a chatbot, and improved data analytics. Ultimately, the customer is at the center, emphasizing simplicity, transparency, safety, partnership, and experience. 

The Menin family, owners of Brazil’s biggest home builder and real estate firm MRV, started the bank as Intermedium to provide real estate credit. In 2008, the Brazilian Central Bank gave Inter the green light to become a multifaceted bank.

Over the years, Inter has reported expanding its offerings: 

  • In 1999, the bank started offering small and medium enterprise (SME) loans; it followed up with payroll loans in 2001.
  • In 2007, Inter introduced mortgage and home equity loans.
  • In 2008, the Central Bank of Brazil granted it a license to operate as a commercial bank, credit society, financing (payroll loans for individuals), investment and real estate credit society (loan and real estate financing for individuals and legal entities).
  • In 2012, it started the Inter Group with Banco Inter and Inter Seguros. Through a broker, it offered a broad insurance portfolio to clients.

Over the past 20 years, Inter has reported significant growth transforming from financial services to banking, from a regional to a national bank and from credit to multiple services. In 2015, the bank recorded launching its digital account offering to enter retail banking.

Its quest to revolutionize the Brazilian banking sector saw it become the first 100% digital bank in Brazil, and at that time it became the only bank to offer a digital checking account fee-free and integrated into a complete financial services platform.

In 2016, the bank enhanced its digital platform to offer foreign exchange and Mastercard Inc. (NYSE: MA) multiple card services, finishing the year with 80,000 digital clients — a growth of 599% compared to the previous year.

In early 2018, a year after changing its brand to Banco Inter, the bank became the first bank in Latin America to operate a cloud service after migrating its servers to Amazon Web Services (AWS).

In April of that year, the bank became the first digital bank to hold an initial public offering (IPO) on the B3 — Brazilian Stock Exchange. Inter ended that year with more than 1.4 million digital accounts. Today, Inter has 20 million digital accounts and is listed on the Nasdaq.

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(Photo: Inter)

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