Brazilian banks boost tech investment

Growth in online banking, social media customer service, and security are driving the spending increase.

Brazilian banks are ploughing cash into IT to respond to the demands of tech-savvy customers in the transactional and customer service fronts.

Numbers released at an annual banking technology congress in São Paulo organized by the Brazilian Banking Federation (Febraban) last week suggest that in 2014, internet and mobile banking volumes will surpass traditional channels: In 2013, web and mobile already represented 47 percent of all banking transactions.

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The reaction to those demands can be seen in the spending growth in software within banking — particularly data analytics platforms and mobile application frameworks — which went up by 20 percent last year and represents 40 percent of the total IT spend in the sector of about R$20.6bn ($9.2bn), according to Febraban.

Customer demands for service online has also prompted more investment by the banks. An example is Itaú Unibanco, of the largest private sector institutions in Brazil, where the volume of customer service engagements through social media has gone up by 120 percent.

To respond to that demand, the bank invested R$100m ($44.8m) in a customer service platform entirely geared up for the online channel, launched last week.

In addition to investments in customer service and online banking and customer service, Brazilian banks have been ploughing cash into security. An example can be seen in the increase in the number of ATMs with biometric user verification, which have gone up by 65 percent last year, according to the Febraban numbers.

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