Online banking surges in Brazil as more customers open bank accounts online than in person

In Brazil last year, more bank accounts were opened through digital channels than at physical branches for the first time.

That’s according to an annual study on banking technology released on July 21 by the Brazilian Banking Federation and carried out by Deloitte. The researchers found that digital bank account openings reached 10.8 million last year, up 66% in relation to the previous year. For the first time, the opening of accounts through electronic means was greater than in physical channels, which totaled 9.9 million, a 16% increase in relation to 2020.

In addition, seven out of 10 banking operations carried out in Brazil in 2021, out of a total of 119.5 billion transactions, were carried out over smartphones or the web, the study noted. Smartphone operations were up by 28% and totaled 67.1 billion, representing 56% of all the transactions carried out last year. Internet banking transactions increased by 6%. 

Brazil is among the countries that are considered pioneers in the adoption of technologies in the financial sector, according to a separate study on consumer attitudes to banking innovation published last year by Accenture.

The global survey has found that consumers in Brazil are more open to new ways of managing their money and are defined as “tech-savvy risk takers.” About 7% of those polled in Japan said they are using new digital services — compared to 43% of Brazilian consumers who claimed to do so. Brazil is only surpassed in its openness by Mexico, where 57% of those surveyed said they use financial services innovations, and China, where 61% adopted the novelties.

According to the Deloitte study, financial transactions through smartphones grew by 75% last year, from 9.3 billion transactions to 16.3 billion operations. Also according to the Febraban research, payment-related transactions in Brazil grew by 72% in mobile banking.

“There has been an unequivocal change in the behavior of consumers in the activities of various sectors of the economy, who no longer go to the bank branch, since they are able to carry out almost all transactions through electronic means,” said Febraban president Isaac Sidney.

Brazilian consumers accessed banking apps 40 times a month on average last year — practically double the 24 times recorded in 2020. On the other hand, the average login total among heavy users (who carry out more than 80% of their financial and non-financial transactions through smartphones over a 3-month period) reached 59 times a month last year, compared to 57 in 2020.

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