Em Conversa looks to uncover the secrets in Latin America (LatAm) that have caused the fintech market to boom, from being worth less than $50million in 2016, to $2.1billion in 2022. This week, we sat down with Jeremy Baber, CEO of Lanistar, the fintech looking to challenge the status quo, about the development of mobile payments in Brazil.
As organisations continue to tailor themselves for the next generation, more and more are looking to make a name for themselves in the digital world. However, in order for a company to find success doing this, it must be forward-thinking in all aspects. This is exactly what Lanistar achieved in June 2023. At the beginning of the month, LAnistar announced it was introducing a buy-and-sell crypto function in its mobile payments app.
Aiming to not only be forward-thinking in its partnerships but also in its offering, the crypto service provides another way for consumers to make payments. Expanding on the importance of having diverse payment methods, we sat down with Lanistar’s CEO, Jeremy Baber, to learn more:
Can you tell me more about the Lanistar and your role within it?
At its heart, Lanistar is a social media company that partners with influencers to promote its brand. It was founded in July 2019, but our journey truly started in mid-2022 after the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. I serve as the CEO, and Gurhan Kiziloz, the founder, brought me on board to prioritise compliance and regulatory rigour in all our operations. We’ve had our challenges, but the future is bright and we a moving forward positively into 2023 and beyond.
What are some mobile payment trends we’re seeing in Brazil?
Brazil (and LatAm in general) are tech-hungry markets, so the ability to do all your financial transactions in one place on your smartphone is the big push in these markets. Having previously been a nation that relied on cash, Brazil is now embracing the digital payments evolution.
Eighty five per cent of Brazilians now have access to financial services. With this increased access, Brazilians have shifted to e-commerce platforms, making purchases on mobile devices, with bank transfer payments being the preferred payment option.
Cash use is declining in Brazil, with the majority preferring the convenience of e-wallets. Credit cards are the preferred payment method, but this will soon change.
Alternative technologies, such as banking apps and digital wallets, provide a simple and secure payment method that is unrestricted and easily accessible, and that’s a huge benefit for Brazilian businesses and individuals alike. As Gen Z and Millennials become the majority consumer, the Brazilian payment landscape will continue to shift in favour of the new digital age.
What is Lanistar doing to improve the mobile payments sector in Brazil and LATAM?
We have sought to marry traditional fiat and crypto to provide our customers with the ‘AnyMoney’ digital solution the customers in these markets crave. However, we perform these activities with full regulatory and AML controls in place by partnering with regulated entities in all our markets and adopting leading AML transaction monitoring controls. This is critical to protecting our customers and the financial markets we enter.
The other key piece of change is moving away from plastic cards. We’ve got the designs and they are stunning, but we have decided that after research with our core demographics, the environment needs to be front and centre of our product offering. Therefore we have opted for virtual cards only.
Our customers can pick and choose the colour of their choice and change it anytime but this shift away from plastic although seemingly small sets the precedent for others to follow. Someone must make a stand as we are happy to challenge the status quo.
How does the Brazilian mobile payments sector compare to that of the rest of the world?
I believe for the core demographic we are seeking to serve eg. Millennials and Gen Z – the expectations are very similar to the rest of the world. These demographics want everything digital, fast, simple, in one place and also with an eye on the environment. Brazil is key to our roadmap because (and similar around the globe) these demographics have not been well supported by traditional banking – we aim to change that.
What are some unique challenges associated with the region/country in the mobile payments space?
Personally, we have not seen any uniquely different challenges to other markets. The key thing in LatAm as a whole, is the population is hungry for advanced technology. Some countries are ‘quicker out of the blocks’ than others.
Brazil, Argentina, Colombia as examples have embraced Banking as a Service (BaaS) as their governments see the huge benefits to getting the ‘unbanked’ population linked to any banking process and within the regulated environments. Meanwhile, Mexico is still dragging their heels on the subject and falling behind in the technical development race.
What are Lanistar’s plans for the future (roadmap and growth plan)
We have big plans, but they will be diligently planned and deployed with the right level of compliance and caution to ensure we deliver a service our customers will expect. In July 2023 we will have our large marketing roadblock (launch) in Brazil, by then we will have a full crypto exchange and Apple Pay live, we expect to get 1-1.5 million customers in a month of that roadblock!
Then late Summer 2023 we aim to be live in UK, Argentina, and Colombia, with at least BETA launches planned for USA, UAE, Turkey, and major EU markets before end of 2023. Our target is 3-5 million customers by the end of 2023 – yes, a bold ambitious statement but with our Brazilian Influencers having over 160 million followers as we replicate this to other countries and regions, we firmly believe this is achievable. In three years, we are aiming for 50 million customers globally!
Later this summer, we will seek external investment to fuel and power our ambitious plan. However, we want to emphasize that we have built our ambition on sound financial planning. We will not seek to ‘burn-cash’. Instead, we aim to be profitable inside three years – so by 2025. Why? Because our Customer Acquisition Costs (CAC) are far lower than our competitors and we will be adding more profitable products sooner in partnership with our BaaS partners.
This sector often focuses solely on a drive for growth and profit targets and yes there are important. But ESG and diversity are critical to all businesses, and I am proud to say Lanistar aim to champion areas with partnerships with OneTreePlanted.org to support reforestation, promoting a virtual card only product and carbon offsetting in crypto, while our recruitment goal is to have a process which hires a diverse team and actively celebrate its diversity – a great example is this month we celebrate Pride Month with Pride.