Cash and checkbooks have been losing ground for a long time in payments made by Brazilians who, with each passing day, have been absorbing other digital modalities, such as Pix, a system created by the Central Bank.
Despite the absorption of technology when carrying out a financial transaction, Brazil is still far from being considered a digital territory, from the point of view of means of payment. This is the assessment of Ricardo Teixeira Leite Mourão, a member of Deban (Department of Banking Operations and Payment System), of the Central Bank.
“The road is too long to reach a cashless society [sem dinheiro]. We are still trying to reduce physical money and there is a lot of evolution in Pix and in the payments area as a whole to happen”, said Mourão during the 2022 edition of Febraban Tech 2022, in São Paulo.
The challenge of a cashless society is really huge in Brazil, with 38.5% of the adult population still without a bank account, according to a survey by Brink’s in partnership with Fundação Dom Cabral.
The Covid-19 pandemic was a forced shortcut in this process, when thousands of Brazilians were forced to use digital products to honor their financial commitments due to the isolation imposed by the coronavirus.
Being a digital nation requires, according to experts, that all Brazilians are banked and, in the next step, included in the financial system, moving money and having access to the sector’s products, says Luciana Bassani, national superintendent at Caixa.
Bassani says that of the more than 68 million people benefiting from emergency aid, offered by the federal government via Caixa TEM, 38 million did not even have a bank account.
“It was an important step to bankroll these people, but our main challenge today is financial inclusion, that is, people need to access financial services and use them and not just have an open account”, he says.
Pix can be a path in this direction. “Pix, from a transaction point of view, is innovative. But every Pix framework is much more than just the transaction,” he says. For Bassani, the tool’s greatest success is not just its instantaneity or 24-hour operation, but “the transactional journey focused on the customer’s experience”.
“What was created was an archetype of simplicity in digital transactions and that has enormous value”, he explains.
Bassani also says that Pix has transformed the bank’s perspective on transactions. “We are reviewing other types of digital transactions at the bank, such as TED transfers and loan distribution, using Pix logic, simplifying the experience. Before, the bank did what was best for him. Now we are trying to get what the customer wants and we realize that the reference is Pix”, he explains.
Among the evolutions in the means of payment, one of the highlights is the one carried out by approximation, which gained traction in the context of the pandemic. Roberta Becker, marketing manager for the St. Marche, says that the sport has been consolidating rapidly.
“Customers didn’t want contact and we were forced to enter this digital age by approximation. People used the physical card using a password and now use the cell phone to approach and make the payment. On our side, it’s about adapting and offering options and we realize that our audience is adept at cashless solutions”, she says.
“Without a doubt, payment by approach is a trend, but we still have a gap. We do not offer a contactless card. We are looking at other possibilities of payment by approximation, in addition to plastic, to guarantee access for our customers”, says Bassani, from Caixa.
Becker says that St. Marche is participating in payment trials with facial biometrics at some of its units. “You can pay with a smile, literally,” he says.
The novelty is a partnership with the payface company, which offers this solution to commercial establishments. In practice, consumers can buy a product by identifying themselves with their face, without using a card, wallet or cash.
“The customer needs to download an application, register, and inform a means of payment. When going to the cashier, the customer informs that he is going to pay with payface, looks at the camera and the purchase is enabled”, says the manager. “According to our research, what people value most is carrying nothing. I use my face and walk away,” says Becker.
Luciana Bassani, from Caixa, says that, in its scope, this means of payment with facial recognition could be used as a second layer of payment approval. “We have room for many innovations. Transactions will always happen and it is our challenge to offer new solutions to customers”.
Mourão says that, on the BC side, there is no solution in this direction of facial recognition in progress. “Even before Pix, we were always discussing new solutions and trying to stay on top of things. But the market crowd is more creative than BC”, he comments.