Neon, a fintech company and digital bank focused on improving the lives of working Brazilians, today announced an overview of the company’s growth and momentum that led up to its recent US$300M Series D round, resulting in a valuation of US$1.6B and its achievement of Unicorn status.
According to Crunchbase, Latin America saw $19.5B in investments in 2021, more than triple previous annual investments, making it the fastest-growing region in the world for VC funding in 2021. The potential growth in the region seems set to continue with massive, record-breaking investments in Latin American tech companies. Last December, Dealroom declared Latin America to be fintech’s hottest market with massive opportunity, with data from The World Bank that LatAm has a financial service market of $1 trillion a year. In 2020 the World Bank reported that 207 million people (55%) in Latin America were underbanked.
Focusing on the underbanked population of the Brazilian working class, Neon has a bold purpose: to reduce financial inequalities and provide a better future for all.
The purpose can be challenging, but the data indicates that the market has an appetite for it, as the increased need for digital services amidst the pandemic helped accelerate Neon’s rapid growth trajectory as its platform offers an alternative to face-to-face banking solutions. As a result, Neon reached 15 million customers in 2021. While Brazil is the largest economy in Latin America, 80% of the country’s population is low-income. Neon’s focus is on the financial emancipation of this group, which includes microentrepreneurs (MEI) and people with informal formal employment. Today 88% of Neon’s customers belong to what is known as the C, D, and E classes in Brazil. Neon currently handles an average of more than R$5.8 billion (approximately US$1.2 billion US) per month in transaction
“Our mission is to always provide all our customers with simple and fair ways to obtain credit,” said Pedro Conrade, founder and CEO of Neon. “This is our contribution to rebalancing financial inequalities and making a difference in people’s lives. Neon has grown tremendously and is increasingly solid, but one thing has never changed, our purpose – to improve the finances of Brazilian workers – is what drives us. Our expectation for this year is to more than double our revenue.”
Neon continues its corporate and industry leadership and growth with key milestones including:
• Industry recognition. Pedro Conrade, the founder of Neon, was recognized as one of the top 100 innovative financial entrepreneurs by Bloomberg Linea.
• Commitment to free digital banking with no fees or bureaucracy. Since its founding in 2016, Neon has quickly established itself as one of the largest fintechs in Brazil, offering customers a full range of products and services, including debit and credit cards without annual fees, personal loans, payroll loans, simple investments in certificates of deposit, cashback in debit, various forms of payment, and other products offered without abusive fees and designed for Brazilian workers. In addition, with MEI Fácil, the company offers financial services and education to individual micro-entrepreneurs throughout Brazil.
• Strong executive growth. Since Neon raised its Series C round in September 2020, it invested in key executive-level talent that helped make its latest Series D round possible, bringing in Paula Martinelli, Vice President of Marketing and Products; Othon Vela, Partner and Vice President of PR and Marketing; Jamil Marques, Chief Financial Officer; Larissa Arruy, Chief Legal Counsel, and Juliana Yamada, Chief Human Resources Officer and Chief Data Officer. Most recently Neon appointed Koji Pereria as its Chief Design Officer. Pereria will be based in the United States and is the first of what Neon hopes will become many employees that will be based in North America.
• Neon everywhere. Neon recognizes the enormous community of talented technology professionals in the United States and seeks to take advantage of that, hoping that the company’s purpose-driven mission will be appealing to many job seekers. Neon announced its new flexible hybrid work model, through the ‘Neon everywhere’ project launched in January.
• A future in vertical markets. Always looking to better serve its market and target audience – the Brazilian worker – Neon plans to enter new business verticals with products that are even more accessible, and flexible and that helps customers “co-build” their path to credit, giving them access to greater product diversification. Insurance, more cash-in options, and more credit alternatives such as loans and guarantees are all possibilities being considered. Constant use of Data Intelligence as an important tool to grant more credit, making it possible to know even more customers and improve their scores to grant credit.