The super app offers a digital front door for a range of activities — from banking and investing to insurance, peer-to-peer (P2P) and beyond.
In an interview with PYMNTS’ Karen Webster, João Vitor Menin, CEO of Inter&Co., told Webster that bringing Brazil’s super app — in fact, in his telling, the West’s first super app — to the States has a multi-pronged strategy.
The Inter app, like super apps found elsewhere in the world, may have just a single screen, but there are a slew of moving parts, with microservices embedded at the back end that need to be refreshed, updated, tweaked and refined.
“The secret sauce is technology,” he said.
A lot goes on behind that tech, he said, shifting to a restaurant analogy — because, after all, sauce is just part of a meal: The dish may be delicious, but the patron may not be all that cognizant of what goes on in the kitchen.
Ideally, said Menin, the super app should be an agnostic platform that offers something for everyone, young and old, regardless of income or age.
Building the Pyramid
Along the way, he said, the super app builds a “pyramid” of interaction — at the broader base are a wealth of banking services, tapering to a “top tier” of more specialized offerings that may appeal to higher net-worth individuals.
Get it right, and to use an example proffered by Inter, a consumer could conceivably buy an air ticket, transfer US dollars to an international account and pay trip expenses without leaving the app. The consumer who starts out with simple banking relationships, such as with a deposit account, graduates to investments and eventually, say, to mortgages.
The conversation came against the backdrop where Inter&Co. (now simply Inter) listed its Class A shares on the Nasdaq Stock Market on Thursday (June 23).
That comes on the heels of Inter’s acquisition earlier this year of Usend. Through that deal, Inter broadened its ability to help users send payments abroad — in this case, to more than 60 countries — and to make transactions in US dollars.
So see: Brazil Super App Inter Acquires FinTech Usend
At a high level, he said, it’s an opportune time to list shares on the Nasdaq — which may run counter to conventional wisdom. For Inter, despite the volatility inherent in the markets, the demand to have shares available in the US is there.
As Menin told Webster, the firm already had international investors in its “cap table” that were investing through swap accounts — a less than convenient way to build holdings in the company. He posited that investors will also be interested in Inter, even despite the general downdraft in the markets.
“Shares are cheaper than they were even a few months ago,” he said.
He stressed that Inter does not need to tap markets for funding — noting that the company has a strong capital and equity base already in place, and as a bank is already capitalized well beyond Basel mandates.
“We can do a follow on to raise more equity — if we want, but we don’t need to. That’s how comfortable we are in our ability to keep growing our business despite the macro environment,” Menin said.
However, Inter is not just listing its shares in the US It is also setting sights on bringing its business more fully to these shores, having had a strong showing with Banco Inter in Brazil.
“It’s a good transition — and it’s exciting to be able to put these two things together at the same time,” he said of the listing and the US operations launch.
The Broader Strategy
In a nod to that aforementioned “pyramid” Inter is focusing on its core banking and cross border offerings in the US — chiefly with the immigrant demographic that has enthusiastically embraced Usend — Menin said the FinTech allows people in Brazil to have US accounts, and those account holders can then expand their relationship with Inter.
Immigrant populations tend to be underserved, and in Menin’s telling do not have the financial access in place that will help them conduct daily financial life or build their businesses. In this way, Inter will enhance its super app status by leveraging its banking products in combination with Used remittances.
Related: Behavioral Analytics Can Foster Consumer Satisfaction In the Cross-Border Remittance Market
Beyond the positive ripple effects of financial inclusion, for Inter there are several paths of monetization, as Menin said: As a banking entity licensed in the US, there’s net interest income derived from the loan portfolio, which translates into top line torque.
There are fees that Inter collects as consumers use the company’s investment and insurance platforms. The merchants pay fees, too, to access Inter’s platform and distribute their offerings.
“We call all of this our packet — and with this packet, we serve our consumers very well,” he said.
In the bid to acquire new customers, he said that Inter has, and will be, pursuing an omnichannel strategy tied to digital advertising, word of mouth, social media and other ways and means of cross-pollination.
“When you combine the paid customers, and the new customers, we have very low acquisition costs,” he said — a strategy that has helped Inter grow to 20 million customers without requiring a lot of cash to get there. Churn is low, he said, and the lifetime value of the customer increases as they move beyond basic banking.
Looking ahead, the Brazil-headquartered company has opened branch offices in California and Florida. In 2022 and beyond, he said, the target will be growth in the top line and the customer base.
Reflecting on ringing the bell, he said that “it was really something special, a milestone for the company.”
And now, the super app has a beachhead on new shores.
“Down the road,” he predicted, “you’re going to say [of the super app]’I am going to use Inter shopping, and later I’m going to insure my card … and later on, use the data and cellphone plan … and then invest across the investment platform.”
As Menin told Webster: “It just keeps on going.”