As I prepare for another trip to Colombia, I am filled with excitement and pride as I reflect on these first ten years of Nu and how we have grown locally. Despite leaving my country at a young age, I carry my roots with pride and nostalgia: the bandeja paisa, salsa, vallenato, and all the flavors and colors I experienced there. It is always revigorating to go back.
In 2021, I was able to fulfill the dream of bringing Nu to Colombia. In two years of operation, we have made significant progress. We have learned from the mistakes and successes in Brazil and Mexico. We arrived prepared to adapt our business model to the local market, and above all, to the culture, of which I am extremely proud.
One thing that remains unchanged, regardless of the country, is that our digital, efficient, and scalable operation allows us to offer a better product to our customers, without hidden charges or management fees, helping them optimize their money even further. Something that already excites me is that we have enabled customers in Colombia to save 246 billion pesos (~US$ 63 million) in management fees. We are also the first credit card for 30% of them. Seeing that impact in my country of origin is undoubtedly rewarding.
For me, this story began very early on. On both sides of my family, I had examples of entrepreneurs, and I saw my path in that as well. That’s how, after more than a decade working in banks and investment funds in the United States and Latin America, I decided to immerse myself in this sector.
And so, 10 years ago, in May 2013, I joined my partners Cristina Junqueira and Edward Wible to found a startup that challenged the conventional and offered new perspectives in financial services in Latin America.
The idea seemed absurd to the experts. Creating a new bank in Brazil without being linked to a major economic group, completely digital, and with the goal of completely eliminating the bureaucracy of that system seemed impossible. But our Roxinho, as we call our credit card in Brazil, went viral, and we soon built a diversified portfolio and expanded to more countries.
In 2019, we launched our operation in Mexico. And in 2021, we were operating in Colombia. I returned to my country, now with 10 other Nubankers. Like in Brazil and Mexico, we faced a sector with high concentration and high rates for simple products and a public with very low satisfaction.
We already have over 700,000 customers. We are the fastest-growing credit card issuer in the market. For 30% of the customers, La Moradita (as we call our card there) is the first credit card they have ever had access to. A Mastercard study showed that between 2020 and 2023, the number of Latin Americans without bank accounts has decreased from 45% to 21%. Digitization in the region is growing exponentially, and we are proud to use this tool to increasingly promote access.
We are still in our first moment in Colombia, and soon we will be able to continue expanding our portfolio. With the experience we have already gained in Brazil and Mexico, we still have plenty of room to grow in terms of customers and portfolio and to increasingly help simplify the lives of Colombians in a strategic and secure manner.
David Vélez, Nu’s founder and CEO
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