david velez nubank

Latin Entrepreneurs: David Vélez, founder of Nubank

January 23, 2021

Discover how David Vélez became an entrepreneurial banker. And find out about the innovative features of Nubank, the most successful digital bank in Latin America.

Nubank defines itself as a technology company that offers financial solutions free of complexities. The magazine Fast Company classified it as the most innovative company in 2018, just as Statista and Forbes rank it as the best bank in Brazil.

In addition to this, it is known as the largest digital bank in the world outside of Asia and today it is a unicorn valued at $4 billion.

Without a doubt it is a story worth telling from its beginnings to the present. And for this, we must start with the creator of this great concept and the driving force behind its development.

Who is David Vélez?

David Vélez was born in the city of Medellín, Colombia. He lived for a few years in Costa Rica and at the age of 18 he began studies at Stanford University in the United States. Coming from a family of entrepreneurs and with technology as a weapon to support innovations, this engineer was determined to create his own business.

With the idea of starting a business always in mind, but still without a clear business model, Vélez began working in New York for companies related to investment funds. This is how he made a career at Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and General Atlantic. In the latter, he accepted the challenge of opening a branch in Brazil, where he lived between 2007 and 2010.

Assembling a work team from scratch, learning about different sectors of the economy and hunting investment opportunities, allowed Vélez to visualize business scenarios in the Brazilian context. However, he returned to the United States to pursue an MBA.

At that time, he worked for Sequoia Capital, a major investment corporation in technology companies. Interested in the Latin American market, this company offered Vélez the opportunity to take charge of its operations in Brazil. So again, he spends two years in what would soon be the cradle of his famous endeavor.

This is how the idea of ​​creating a digital bank came about

Vélez already felt ready to create, build and make things work his way. And it was precisely a bad experience opening a bank account that triggered his idea of ​​conceiving a bank that would offer multiple facilities to its customers when using its services.

Getting trapped between the gates, going through a security check, waiting a long time in line, and having a 6-month process just to open an account was definitely something he didn’t want to repeat. Of course, offering an alternative to users where they could avoid this series of inconveniences was a very good business opportunity.

On the other hand, Vélez had carefully studied the cases of important digital businesses such as Netflix and Amazon. In addition, he had closely followed the expansion of the Internet and the massive use of electronic devices, especially smartphones in Brazil, the most sought-after market in Latin America.

Another piece of information he had in mind was that, in that country, 5 out of 10 companies with the most profitable margins are banks.

Nubank, the neobank

Indeed Nubank has reinvented the banking system. Rather, it is a fintech, technology company that provides financial services.

Its corporate image is as irreverent as its philosophy, starting with its name “nu” which in Portuguese means “naked”. With this, it seeks to project simplicity and transparency as its main values. Additionally, the purple color that identifies it is totally modern.

With a new and different concept, this 100% digital bank aims to fight against the complexity of the traditional financial system and empower people to regain control of their money.

Nubank’s board of directors is made up of the co-founders Cristina Junqueria, currently Vice President of Brand and Edward Wible, Vice President of Technology, together with the founder and CEO David Vélez.

They are supported by a multidisciplinary work team made up of members of 25 nationalities, where 30% belong to the LGBT community and 40% are women who hold relevant positions.

The average age of these members is 27 years old. The different points of view that emerge from this mix drive Nubank’s innovative culture.

Nubank advances in Latin America

After its founding in 2013 in Brazil, Nubank also has operations in Mexico and Colombia. In its 7 years of life, the neobank has reached almost 30 million customers. Attributes such as trust, satisfaction, rates, financial advice and digital services have been key to its growth.

Its flagship product is an international Mastercard credit card with no handling fee or commissions, managed by a mobile application. It also offers debit accounts and personal loans at incredible rates. Nubank’s success is focused on leveraging digitization to minimize operational costs and provide excellent customer service.

With an eye toward the millennial population and the unbanked public, Nubank continues to advance by leaps and bounds in Latin America. Without a doubt, the successful entrepreneur David Vélez and his fabulous team have overcome the difficulties of traditional banking to take a leap in the evolution of the sector and open new paths towards the comforts of the digital world.

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