The eyes of the world will be on Brazil today as this year’s big events begin with the opening ceremony at the Maracanã Stadium.
Questions have been raised about the readiness of Brazil ahead of the events, but what is indisputable is that visitors to Brazil can expect to have a wonderful ‘carioca’ experience. This is what we call people from Rio. Cariocas and Brazilians in general are very warm and friendly people. We are also very passionate about sport. We know how to welcome visitors and always live life to the fullest.
Brazil is not just known for its fantastic beaches, incredible rain forests and vibrant carnival spirit. It is a country which is attractive to foreign investors and, for an emerging market, has a substantial financial services industry.
Many of the most sophisticated financial institutions in the world are here, including BNY Mellon. Our story in Brazil began in 1980 when The Bank of New York opened a regional office in São Paulo. Some years later, Mellon Financial Corporation opened an office in Rio.
And there’s fintech too. While Silicon Valley, New York and London are carving out leadership positions, Latin America is also undergoing a tech transformation. The opportunity is significant. If you take Brazil for example, statistics from Ipea, the Brazilian Institute for Applied Economic Research, indicate that there are 55 million adults in Brazil with no bank accounts.
Compare this with data from Anatel, the Brazilian Telecommunications Agency, which suggested in June 2015 that there are over 280 million mobile phones activated in Brazil, and mobile banking seems ripe for technology innovation. This presents interesting growth opportunities for fintechs and banks, as well as having a very welcome and positive impact on Brazilian society too.
That being said, while there are many positive growth prospects I can spotlight, today Brazil is going through a challenging time. Brazil's economy, the largest in Latin America, shrank 5.4% in the first quarter of this year. Inflation is up, consumer confidence is down, and the country continues to grapple with political turmoil. Our famous Brazilian positivity is much more sedate this year.
However, Brazil is no stranger to crises and each time the country has rallied and returned to positive health. That is the Carioca spirit. And it is our hope and belief that this will be the case again. I am not alone in my cautious optimism.
On July 19, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) downgraded its forecast for global economic growth citing Britain’s surprise vote to leave the European Union in June as one of the headwinds weighing on consumer confidence and investor sentiment. While the overall global outlook is gloomy, the IMF had a sunnier view on Brazil, raising its forecast and suggesting we will pull out of recession next year. Let’s hope we are both right.
Over the next few weeks, we will be running a series of interviews with people from BNY Mellon all over the world who have represented their country in a sport. Please keep visiting our newsroom to read their fascinating stories.
In the meantime…BOA SORTE E VAMOS BRASIL! And good luck to all other countries competing in the next few weeks in my wonderful country.