A new breed of digital brokers is taking on the handful of Brazilian institutions such as Itau Unibanco. Backed by investors such as China's Fosun and private equity firms General Atlantic, Advent and Warburg Pincus, the newcomers have already lured more than 10% of the 2.98 trillion reais ($736 billion) invested by Brazilians in local mutual funds, stocks and bonds.
Brazil has one of the world's most concentrated banking markets, with its top-five banks holding 82% of total assets, far above the 43% in the United States or 48% in the UK. Brazilians hold some 61 million savings accounts with 737 billion reais in deposits, usually yielding well below the benchmark Selic rate, which has declined in recent years. The lower returns have many eyeing alternatives to savings accounts, which were long the traditional banks' main investment product.