Meet The People Behind The Super App That Says It's Driving Financial Inclusion To Get The Unbanked Banked in the U.S.

João Vitor Menin, Inter CEO (Photo: Inter)

In South America, a nearly 30-year-old digital bank’s name seems to be synonymous with financial inclusion.

Inter&Co BIDI says it hopes to have bridged the gap in making financial services accessible to all — and becoming a household name in the U.S.

More banking for underserved communities might be essential, especially as the United Nations has identified financial inclusion as an enabler for seven of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

To put things in context, The World Bank defines financial inclusion as individuals and businesses having access to useful and affordable financial products and services that meet their needs — payments, including cross border — delivered in a responsible and sustainable way.

Financial Inclusion

Inter&Co believes it may have cracked that financial access code in 2015 when its focus was to offer feature-packed options its competitors lacked. When most banks were slow to embrace the digital revolution, the Brazilian Super App reportedly started laying a foundation to expand financial services to cover those who had always been left behind by unfriendly banking bureaucracies.

Formerly known as Intermedium, Banco Inter was founded by the Menin family, owners of Brazil’s largest homebuilder and real estate firm MRV,  to provide real estate credit. But in 2008, the Brazilian Central Bank gave Inter the green light to become a multifaceted Super App.

Seven years later, it launched its first digital account, followed by a new brand identity — Inter — in 2017. Seeing itself now as a big brother of Brazilian digital banks, Inter has transformed its offering into a super app that navigates the intersection between fintech and bank.

With 18.6 million customers in the first quarter of 2022 — nearly twice as many as it had in 2021— Inter surpassed 20 million customers in Q2. 

Who Is Leading The Banking Revolution?

The Super App recently released numbers that indicate the growth it is witnessing could be attributed in part to CEO João Vitor Menin strong leadership. 

Menin didn’t start out in banking or finance. He graduated in 2005 with a civil engineering degree from FUMEC University in Belo Horizonte before obtaining a Master of Business Administration (MBA) in finance from IBMEC in 2008.

He joined Inter in 2004 and served as a board member from 2005 to 2019. In April 2008, he became the chief operating officer (COO) and in December 2015 was appointed CEO.

Menin has extensive experience in the financial and capital markets. He has led Inter’s digital and financial inclusion plan for the last 15 years.

He believes technology is reshaping the banking sector in Brazil and across the world, and Inter is leading this revolution by putting customers first.

Speaking at Inter’s Investor Day 2021, Menin said 2021 was a significant year for the company.

He explained that, aside from its entry into the capital markets, the company raised 5.5 billion reais — equal to $1 billion in primary offerings — to enable Inter to have a very sound balance sheet to propel growth.

The Inter CEO believed that to cement its position as the best and true Super App in Brazil, Inter needs three key things — technology, growth and a sound balance sheet.

“The best way for us to emphasize how good we are in the use of technology is to say that we are the only true Super App. We have many different products and features in a single app,” Menin explained.

As a customer-centric Super App focusing on innovation, the Inter CEO said it has already launched 27 new versions of the app. Currently, “more than 1,300 microservices run simultaneously to deliver banking, non-banking products, loans, investments, insurance shopping, and others,” making it unique in the Brazilian market.

In a country that has players like Itau Unibanco Holding SA ITUB and Banco Bradesco SA BBD, Inter could be taking a leap into the future with its focus on financial inclusion.

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