So-called global citizens, who do business in more than one country, have a very specific set of needs when it comes to financial services.
With most banks targeting people who tend to stay in one place, and neobanks being primarily oriented toward consumers, the opportunity to serve this global niche is looking like a great differentiator for USEND, which was acquired by Brazil’s Banco Inter in August.
Read more: Banco Inter Acquires FinTech Startup USEND
USEND is best known for its money transfer services and the very specific audience it initially targeted — namely, Brazilians living in the U.S. and U.S. businesses that needed to make payouts in Brazil. But despite having hyper-targeted user base, the company can leverage the expertise of Banco Inter and set much loftier goals, said USEND Chief Operating Officer and Chief Technology Officer Ran Grushkowsky.
The company is aiming to become a full digital bank, competing with the likes of Chime and SoFi in the biggest financial market of all, he said.
“We’re looking to replicate the model of Banco Inter in Brazil and do that in the U.S.,” Grushkowsky told PYMNTS’ Karen Webster in an interview. “That model essentially is a super app, serving all the needs of consumers and providing very inexpensive financial services — and going beyond that into insurance, shopping and more.”
Webster asked if that means USEND’s ambitions are different from existing digital banks, noting that most of those offer prepaid interchange services and haven’t yet expanded into a full suite of financial services.
“That’s the opportunity,” Grushkowsky said. “If you look at Banco Inter, they have a lot of expertise in offering a range of financial services in Brazil. By bringing that wealth of knowledge into the U.S., we can create a very compelling value proposition for U.S. residents.”
He acknowledged that many other financial services providers have “super app” ambitions, and the field is competitive. Some of USEND’s rivals are better funded and established, like PayPal, Square and others. Still, USEND’s history of serving immigrants and global citizens gives it an edge that its better-known challengers lack.
Grushkowsky told Webster that regulators have shown lots of enthusiasm about USEND’s partnership with Banco Inter and the ability to create a unique banking bridge between Brazil and the U.S. The company’s distinct track record serving individuals and businesses has built a foundational trust with regulators and customers that yield a firm advantage in branching out into other complementary financial services. Additionally, USEND has a clear advantage over traditional banks that struggle to serve global citizens due to infrastructure that makes cross-border transactions slow and expensive.
“We also have enterprise-level services that are very relevant for business owners, and also services for individual immigrants,” he said. “We have some very advantageous capabilities when it comes to moving money internationally. Plugging these advantages in with other banking products makes sense, especially with Banco Inter’s expertise around additional services.”
Grushkowsky said USEND is looking closely at the area of broker dealer licensing, aiming to offer customers the ability to buy and sell stocks both domestically and internationally.
“Essentially, we want to democratize the ability to access those services regardless of which country you’re in, starting with the U.S. and Brazil and later expanding beyond,” Grushkowsky said. “We’re really looking at a global footprint that we’ll establish by leveraging everything USEND has been doing individually, and adding the resources and expertise of Banco Inter.”
Areas such as lending and cryptocurrencies have also piqued the interest of USEND, Grushkowsky said. In the case of the latter, he noted that USEND is uniquely positioned to try to get mainstream banks on board with the idea of crypto, even though most have been notoriously apprehensive. That’s because USEND has been seen for years as a leading innovator around compliance issues.
“That gives us some credit when it comes to working with our financial partners and regulators because they know we don’t take any shortcuts,” Grushkowsky said. “We really try to understand the problems and come up with proper resolutions before introducing a new product to market. So, that history and track record is giving us some leeway when it comes to innovating [around cryptocurrency].”
“There are many issues associated with these technologies that we’re working on,” he continued. “We’re still assessing, we haven’t pulled the trigger yet, but it’s definitely an area of interest.”