Brazilian Méliuz announced this week the acquisition of fintech Acesso for BRL 324.5 million. In March, it launched its loan marketplace. In February, it purchased Picodi, an international e-commerce platform, for BRL 120 million. Quickly, Méliuz advances in its expansion strategy to consolidate itself as an ecosystem that offers much more than cashback and discount coupons – products that popularized the startup -, which includes a more complete financial services portfolio and the internationalization of the cashback platform.
Méliuz defines itself as a technology company that offers a digital solutions platform to connect brands, products and services to consumers. Currently, Méliuz has a 16 million user base, of which 7.1 million, on average, are active monthly. The sales volume generated for more than 800 marketplace partners, from March 2020 to March 2021, was BRL 3 billion. Of this amount, around 6% goes to Méliuz, and half of it comes back as cashback for its users.
Although Méliuz’s core business remains the marketplace and the cashback, investor relations director Luciano Valle explains that the company is moving towards being a company whose actions are focused on its user base. Therefore, since 2019, Méliuz has been working to expand the platform to a new ecosystem of financial services.
Next step: digital account
The first Méliuz venture in financial services was a credit card with no annual fee and with a cashback of up to 1.8% of the purchases’ price paid with it. The card, launched in 2019, is a partnership with Banco Pan. Méliuz works by generating leads for the bank, receiving commission for each activated card.
“Before the IPO, we arrived at the product-market fit and scaled the product. We saw exponential growth in requests. The card ended up being a gateway for new users to our platform,” Valle says. Just in the 2020’s fourth quarter, 1.4 million new cards were issued.
In April 2021, Méliuz expanded the range of financial services with a lending platform, which is a kind of marketplace in which the user can simulate a loan at dozens of financial institutions in a personalized and free way. The next feature is to enable the loan agreement to be signed within the Méliuz digital environment.
But, the boldest step will be the launch of the Méliuz digital account to retain the user in this financial ecosystem. According to Valle, everything is still under study – but it will happen.
“If I offer a digital account experience within Méliuz, my users can use cashback within that account; I can create ways to monetize their balance; they will be able to make payments, transfers. I generate a higher recurrence than I have today and add more value to my platform.”
According to Valle, Méliuz plans to expand with a complete financial products portfolio, either through partnerships, as is already the case with the credit card and the loan marketplace; or through a proprietary way, which may be the case with the digital account, considering the fresh acquisition of fintech Acesso, which is a payment institution authorized by the Brazilian Central Bank and operates in the payment and banking as a service (BaaS) segment.
The first step towards internationalization was taken in February, with the purchase of Picodi, the first after Méliuz went public (the IPO raised more than BRL 360 million). Picodi also works with discount coupons and promotional codes and operates in 44 countries, connecting more than 12,000 online stores to around 4 million monthly active users.
Valle explains that Méliuz’s goal is to combine its technology with Picodi’s network, scaling its operations internationally.
Pandemic ups and downs
Just take a look at the results of Méliuz: 2020 was the best year of the company so far. But not because of the COVID-19 pandemic, despite the boom seen in e-commerce. The first impact was negative, says Valle, mainly because the sector with the highest growth in the Méliuz marketplace was the most affected by the pandemic – travel and tourism. In addition, the initial effect of the e-commerce boom was a drop in investments in sales generation campaigns, as the flow of customers was naturally high.
The new volume of customers in online retail also did not mean a significant increase in sales generated by Méliuz. That’s because new entrants don’t start their e-commerce buyers’ journey already using coupons and cashback, says Valle.
“They need to go through other steps before, like getting comfortable paying with the card; be sure that they will receive the product; that they will be able to exchange… They will go through several experiences before fetching the coupon and cashback. That’s where they will arrive at Méliuz. This wave has not yet hit here, but it will hit throughout this year and the next and we will be surfing it, so we are very optimistic.”