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How NuBank became the world’s largest neobank

Which started off as an initiative to kill off fat fees and terrible service of Brazil’s big banks, turned out as the most valuable digital bank in the world, with plans to become a fintech super app.

So how did NuBank become the world’s largest neobank, and what can FinTechs learn from the bank’s success?

Earlier this week, the Latin American neobank Nub  ank sold 289 million shares Wednesday for $9 each in it’s IPO and started trading on the New York Stock Exchange. This is a huge milestone for the whole FinTech industry, as this is the first time public markets value Digital challenger banks.

2021 & 2022: the year of Challenger Bank IPOs

At the IPO price, Nubank has a market value of $41 billion based on the outstanding shares listed. Initial valuation predictions after the IPO would have made NuBank even more valuable than  or Nordea. 

Nubank’s IPO makes it the most valuable financial institution in Latin America, surpassing Itau Unibanco Holding SA. This signals broader lessons for other neobanks as well. 

At the IPO price, Nubank has a market value of $41 billion based on the outstanding shares listed

Besides NuBank, Revolut and Monzo also teased with the idea of an IPO and we predict that this imp ressive valuation could pave the way for many others to follow in 2022.

What the leading metric or indicator will be for other challengers to “pull the trigger” and IPO still is debatable - but besides total number of customers, the most important, yet proven to be most challenging for neobanks is revenue & profitability.

Nubank: revenue rundown

Nubank offers a full range of financial services, these range from current and savings accounts, to consumer lending, life insurance, and even brokerage. 

We would say that 2021 was a hugely successful year for Nubank as they reported 48 million customers at the end of September, up 62% year over year (YoY), when it was 29.7 million; potentially crossing 50 million before the end of the year.

nubank users 2021
Nubank customers YoY growth (2021).
As Nubank lured more clients to its credit card offering, the Latin American fintech managed to turn a profit in the first half of 2021 in its Brazilian operations, which is extremely rare for a Neobank.

Besides it’s Credit Card offering, which is a common bank offering, Nubank is now expanding in many different directions - essentially pursuing the “financial super app” functionality & status.

The rise of financial super apps

While American fintechs are talking up their super-app plans, fintechs abroad are making the vision of a “d o-it-all” financial app a reality. There's Revolut in the U.K., Paytm in India, Alipay and WePay in China, and Nubank in Latin America.

The massive relaunch of Google Pay, which we covered in a previous episode - is an example of a financial super app and even the BNPL giant Klarna is pursuing the superapp strategy, with plans to be an eCommerce hub with multiple vendors under one roof.

Lessons learned from Nubank's success

o start, it is easier for a FinTech to be successful in a market with little to no competition, or one where existing solutions have a big area of improvement. In Nubank’s case it was a market where traditional banks lacked digital solutions and financial inclusivity.

Not only that but it has been made clear once again that you shouldn’t sleep on Latin America because of the huge potential the region carries, check out last week’s episode for a breakdown of the Latin American FinTech growth.

Which Neobank do you think will be the next to pursue an IPO? 

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