Nothing is sacred anymore. Brazil’s economy, straining under the weight of a three-year scandal, is receiving a series of controversial interventions. Yesterday the government revealed that it would allow mining exploration in the National Reserve of Copper and Associates (Renca), in one of its largest protected areas in the north of the country. A day earlier, the Ministry of Mines and Energy also announced that it would reduce its share in the state utility company, Electrobras, from 63% to 47%. The government will retain a controlling stake, possibly deterring some investors. Meanwhile, the frontrunner for the 2018 presidential race, Lula da Silva, suggested that Brazil draw on its foreign reserves to support social spending amid an extended recession in the real economy. The suggestion is likely academic, however, as his conviction on corruption charges in July is expected to bar him from the race.
Notwithstanding ongoing economic turmoil, a weakened dollar is expected to boost export profits and disposable incomes over the next few years. Private sector actors are also touting the bureaucratic culture of Brazil's traditional financial services industry as an opportunity to cater to a large, frustrated base of consumers. These include fintech start-ups such as Nubank, an online-only credit card service that has attracted investment from Goldman Sachs, Sequoia Capital and DST Global. Goldman Sachs highlighted payments and insurance as growth areas in its white paper on the country’s fintech sector, provided to the New York Times.
Entitled “Fintech Brazil’s Moment,” the 45-page research report estimates that the more than 200 financial technology companies in Brazil should generate a potential revenue pool of about $24 billion over the next 10 years. Payments, lending and personal finance are three promising segments, as is insurance, the report found.