November 24, 2016 / 8:07 PM / 2 years ago

UPDATE 2-Brazil's Bradesco to focus on mobility as fintech appeal grows

(Adds comments from CEO Trabuco throughout)

SAO PAULO, Nov 24 (Reuters) - Banco Bradesco SA will spend three years enhancing existing banking technology platforms to lure younger clients and stem potential competition from financial technology startups that are becoming more appealing, Chief Executive Officer Luiz Carlos Trabuco said on Thursday.

Bradesco, Brazil’s No. 3 listed bank, sees banking mobility solutions as a way to make business sustainable over time amid more demand for digital services, Trabuco and other executives said at a meeting with investors in São Paulo.

For the next three years Bradesco will focus on extracting the maximum cost savings possible from the takeover of HSBC Bank Brasil Banco Múltiplo SA, while adapting products developed by innovative financial startups, known as fintechs, to Bradesco’s platform, Trabuco said.

“The three-year period that is about to start will mark the full transformation of a traditional banking player into one that embraces technology as a main growth engine,” he said.

His plans underscore how the largest Brazilian banks are looking to ride a wave which caught peers in more mature markets off-guard over the past decade. While fintechs in Brazil represent a very small portion of banking services, growth in segments such as credit cards or consumer lending is expanding rapidly.

Analysts said Bradesco and larger private-sector rival Itaú Unibanco Holding SA look better prepared to stave off the competitive threat that fintechs could pose in coming years than, for instance, state-controlled banks. Still, traditional, bulge-bracket lenders bear larger market risks, more oversight and copious fixed costs like payroll or their branch networks.

Chief Financial Officer Luiz Carlos Angelotti said Bradesco is trying to stem growing cost pressures by rethinking distribution channels, which include the bank’s branches and the way it sells products other than accounts to clients.

He noted that non-interest expenses will return to an all-time low of 37 percent of total revenue attained in recent months once the integration of HSBC Brasil is completed. Bradesco bought HSBC Brasil last year. (Reporting by Guillermo Parra-Bernal; Editing by Andrea Ricci)

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