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Portugal Telecom and Unibanco Launch a New Financial Portal in Brazil

Portugal Telecom and Unibanco, the third biggest Brazilian private bank, joined forces to create the portal Banco1.Net, that will also rely on financial services from other sixteen institutions, such as the Chase Manhattan Bank and the ING Barings.

The portal will be launched next month and it is expected to generate a gross revenue of US$ 40 million this year. The initial investment, on marketing and technology, is around US$ 20 million.

Besides the services offered by Unibanco, its clients will have access to resources from other financial institutions. Israel Vaimboim, president at Unibanco Holdings, said that he has talked with some 16 institutions, such as ING Baring and the Chase Manhattan Bank, that showed great interest in offering financial products through the new portal.

Banco1.Net is an online bank that is born with 70,000 clients scattered in the major Brazilian cities, Rio de Janeiro and Sco Paulo. All clients will have access to credit lines, credit cards, insurance, investments and other services from Unibanco.

The new portal's controllers' plans, however, are to make the Banco1.Net clients base reach 350,000 clients in the next three years, which means to get 8% of the Brazilian private bank services market share.

To attract users, fees and interest rates will be 5% to 10% lower than those charged by traditional banks. Also, unlike other financial sites, Banco1.Net's clients will have the right to checkbooks and will be able to use the Unibanco's electronic cashier net scattered throughout the country.

The financial industry has always been on the technological edge in Brazil, and the clearest example of this is the growing offer of bank services over the Internet and the mass acceptance by users.

The Brazilian population is already used to relying on online bank services and, according to a research by Jupiter Communications, around 35% of the Brazilian bank clients use online bank services, against 20% in the United States.

Unibanco holds 62% of the portal and Portugal Telecom will have 31,5% of the stakes with the right of voting, with investments of US$ 60 million. The remaining 6,5% belong to Banco1.Net's administrators and to the strategic partner Marcos de Moraes, former Zip.Net controller, that also belongs to Portugal Telecom