Brazil antitrust watchdog to investigate Brazilian banks on fintech complaint

SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Brazil’s Cade antitrust watchdog will investigate alleged anticompetitive practices in the credit card business by the country’s banks following a complaint by Goldman Sachs-funded Nubank fintech, according to documents on the regulator’s website.

Nubank accuses Brazil’s largest banks, Itaú Unibanco Holding SA, Banco Bradesco SA, Banco do Brasil, Banco Santander Brasil and Caixa Econômica Federal of trying to block free competition in the credit card business.

Nubank complains services offered by banks such as automatic debit of card payments and access to banking statements are being denied or not properly offered. Nubank also accuses the banks of overcharging fintechs for the services.

Brazil has a highly concentrated banking system, in which the five largest banks hold 85 percent of total assets.

In a statement, Nubank confirmed the complaint and said it expects regulators to encourage competition.

Banco do Brasil and Itaú Unibanco denied any wrongdoing. Bradesco, Santander, Caixa did not immediately respond to Reuters requests for comment.

Nubank offers credit cards and checking account to 3 million Brazilian customers, according to the financial startup. It has received regulatory approval to become a bank in January.

In March, Nubank said it had raised $150 million in a new financing round led by venture capital firm DST Global Investment Partners. In 2017, Goldman Sachs extended a credit line of 455 million reais ($137.71 million) to fund Nubank.

($1 = 3.3040 reais)

Reporting by Carolina Mandl; Additional reporting by Bruno Federowski and Sandra Maler