Brazilian banks see evolution of mobile channels during Covid-19

Financial inclusion via the national emergency aid scheme and the roll-out of instant payments are among the factors boosting adoption of mobile platforms, which account for more than half of all banking transactions in Brazil, according to research.
Written by Angelica Mari, Contributing Writer

Mobile banking has reached an all time high in Brazil in 2020 as broader developments boost adoption of the channel during the Covid-19 pandemic, according to research.

The channel now represents more than half (51%) of the banking transactions carried out last year, the equivalent to 52.9 billion operations compared to 37 billion in 2019, according to the yearly survey on technology trends in banking from the Brazilian Banking Association (FEBRABAN) carried out by Deloitte.

Considering all the channels (mobile, Internet banking, point of sale terminals, branches, ATMs, banking representatives and contact centers) the transaction total reached 103.56 billion transactions on 2020, up 20% in relation to the prior year, the study noted.

According to the FEBRABAN/Deloitte study, Internet and mobile banking together represent 67% of all transactions. Both channels account for 8 in 10 bill payments in Brazil, and 9 in 10 credit contracts.

When it comes to accounts opened via digital channels, 8 of the 21 banks polled collectively reported 7.6 million new bank accounts, a 90% increase in relation to 2019. The number of active mobile banking accounts more than doubled in 2020 in relation to the previous year, the study noted, from 92.4 million to 198.2 million.

As a result of the government's emergency aid provided to financially vulnerable citizens, some 70 million new accounts were opened by previously unbanked individuals, though mobile channels, the study has found.

The research also noted that even without considering the emergency aid, the growth of mobile banking would have been 39% in 2020. According to the survey, heavy users of mobile banking in Brazil (users who carry out more than 80% of their banking operations through a single channel) saw a 113% increase, from 35.7 million to 76.3 million last year.

Operations involving money through mobile banking channels also saw an increase of 64% in 2020, according to the study. Investments through that channel saw a 63% boost, as well as money transfers (60%) bill payments (51%) and credit contracts (44%).

The implementation of instant payments system Pix last November has also contributed to the rise in utilization of financial services through digital services in Brazil, according to the study. Based on the responses from the 21 banks polled, instant transactions through Pix in November totaled 59,2 million in November 2020 and the number rose to 338,2 million in March 2021.

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