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David Vélez | Founder & CEO | Nubank

Nubank: Making Financial Life Simple

Nubank is the largest independent digital bank in the world. Its first product, launched in 2014, is a no-fee credit card that is fully managed by a mobile app. More than 35 million people have requested the product since launch, and the company has passed the 13 million customer mark. In 2017, Nubank launched its proprietary loyalty rewards program (Nubank Rewards), as well as a digital account (NuConta) that is already used by 10 million people. This year, the company began testing its personal loan service and took its first steps in international expansion, opening offices in Mexico and Argentina. To date, Nubank has raised around US$ 820 million in seven equity investment rounds from TCV, Sequoia Capital, Kaszek Ventures, Tiger Global Management, QED, Founders Fund, DST Global, Redpoint Ventures, Ribbit Capital, Dragoneer Investment Group, Thrive Capital and Tencent. Recently, Nubank was elected as the most innovative company in Latin America and ranked no. 36 on Fast Company’s 50 Most Innovative Companies ranking.
Inception Story
Nubank was founded in May 2013 by the Colombian David Vélez, who was joined by the American Edward Wible and the Brazilian Cristina Junqueira. The operation started on April 2014, with a beta version released for friends and family and public launch happened in September 2014.
Nubank launched its first product in 2014, is a no-fee credit card that is fully managed by a mobile app. The company has over 13 million users. The company is continuously expanding its the product range to digital savings accounts, personal loans, and recently, a digital business account for SMEs. This year, the company took its first steps in international expansion, opening offices in Mexico and Argentina.
About the Team
David Vélez is the Founder and CEO of Nubank, a Brazilian financial technology company. Before founding Nubank in 2013, David was a Partner at Sequoia Capital in charge of the firm’s Latin American investments. Before Sequoia, David worked in investment banking and growth equity at Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and General Atlantic. David has a BS in Management Science and Engineering from Stanford University and an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business.
Cristina Junqueira is the co-founder at Nubank. She started her career in Strategic Consulting at BCG (Boston Consulting Group). Prior to Nubank, she worked for many years at Itaú Unibanco dealing with Product and Marketing for the bank’s consumer loan and credit card businesses. Cristina holds an Engineering Bachelor degree and a Master degree from Universidade de São Paulo (USP), and also an MBA from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management.
Cristina was nominated one of the most powerful women in Brazil by Forbes Magazine in 2016 and 2017, and in 2016 she also received an award from Claudia, the most important female-focused award in Latin America, in the Business category.
Edward Wible is Nubank’s co-founder and CTO, responsible for the company’s technology development and infrastructure. Wible is an American who started his career in consulting at Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and in his over 10 years’ experience he specialized in investments focused on US tech companies. He graduated in Computer Science from Princeton University, with an MBA from Insead.
Challenges Faced while Expansion
Largest challenges have been around systems as Nubank initially built to be a one-country bank. When team Nubank decided to go internationally, they had to repurpose a lot of their infrastructure to make it international. They set themselves to build entirely local autonomous teams. So recruiting, onboarding, and finding the best type of governance that allows for significant autonomy and speed have required some iterations.
Regulations Never Becomes Barriers in the Growth of Nubank
It has been surprisingly positive for Nubank. The countries where Nubank is currently operating, regulators see the importance of reducing entry barriers to increasing competition. Therefore, conversations have been very constructive. That does not mean though that regulation has become easy: even in Brazil, where today Nubank stands the 6th largest financial institution in the country, it had to wait for three years to finally get the banking license.
Nubank has a strong Policy team that works closely with policymakers and regulators from diverse levels of government in the countries where the company operates. As Nubank becomes more and more a player that’s bringing disruption to the industry, it gains the ability to positively influence policy towards a direction of more competition, lower fees, and more alternatives for both banked and unbanked consumers.
Extraordinary Working Style
From the beginning only Nubank has created a unique corporate culture that values the customer and puts them in the center of everything that company does. Nubank wants its customers to have the best experience possible when using its services. This Nubank culture is today company’s biggest competitive advantage.
“We are organized in tribes and squads. Hence we operate with shallow levels of hierarchy. That provides us with agility, a critical success factor for us to continually challenge conventional beliefs. It also makes us hungrier to challenge the status quo. We say we are looking for people with heads ‘full of questions, and not full of answers’. Also, our purpose as a company is not limited to ‘increase net profit by 10% this year’, and improve the lives of tens of millions of people. Instead, our culture is all about fighting complexity and empowering people with their finances,” asserts David.
Future Roadmap of Nubank
Nubank is continuously seeking opportunities to expand access to more and more people to relevant and uncomplicated financial services. The more natural movement for the company is to explore possibilities in Latin America. However, at the moment, the focus remains in Brazil, Mexico, and Argentina.