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With digital platform, BTG Pactual takes aim at high-income segment

After years of development, BTG Pactual Group in December 2016 hopped on the digital banking bandwagon with the launch of a platform targeting high-income clients.

The Brazilian bank is targeting clients with 160,000 Brazilian reais or more for its new digital platform, Marcelo Flora, BTG Pactual's digital banking head, told S&P Global Market Intelligence in an interview.

The platform offers certain asset-backed securities and investment funds with rates and management fees identical to BTG's existing wealth management operation. The funds available are both BTG's own, as well as those managed by asset managers Gavea Investimentos SA, Adam Capital and Vintage Investimentos, Flora said, noting that funds from several other firms should be available soon.

With the new operation, BTG hopes to garner 3 million accounts and a 10% market share of Brazil's 650 billion reais high-income digital banking segment within the next 3 to 4 years. Flora declined to say how many clients the bank has picked up since launching.

In reaching that goal, the recent exits of both Citigroup Inc. and HSBC Holdings Plc from the Brazilian retail segment will likely help, the executive said.

"There are certainly fewer alternatives" for customers, Flora noted. "Currently, there is only Banco Santander (Brasil) SA left."

In the wake of global banks' withdrawal from Brazil, BTG is also evaluating whether to offer investment to non-resident Brazilians; Flora noted that most of the bank's current business is already with international clients.

BTG's new operation is just one of several digital banking platforms that recently have launched in Brazil since the country's national monetary council implemented new regulations in April 2016 that allowed for the opening and closing of bank accounts through the Internet. Banco do Brasil SA, Banco Bradesco SA and Itaú Unibanco Holding SA have all made efforts to migrate thousands of their existing clients to fully digital platforms, largely in an effort to cut costs.

BTG, too, has migrated a number of its existing clients to its new digital platform, Flora noted, though most of those were clients who did not meet the wealth management division's 5 million-reais investment minimum.

As of Jan. 23, US$1 was equivalent to 3.16 Brazilian reais.