The combination of technology, innovation, and diversity as the pillars of a bank. Based on this idea, Pride Bank, the world’s first digital bank for the LGBTI+ community, emerged. Officially launched in November and still in beta version, the bank serves individuals and companies with services such as digital accounts, transfers, payslips, and the recharge and purchase of credits for prepaid mobile service. Soon, international prepaid cards and points of sale (POS) will also be available.
LABS spoke with Pride Bank’s CEO Marcio Orlandi Junior, who embraced the project initially formulated by the entrepreneur Maria Fuentes and the administrative and financial advisor Alexandre Simões. They presented the idea to Digital Banks, developer of open banking softwares and payment solutions. A few months later, the initiative was already in operation.
For now, priders, as the fintech’s account holders are called, need an invitation to open an account. “People are starting to test services, deposit cash, and credit cards take longer to arrive. We believe that the interest will increase as soon as credit cards arrive”, says Orlandi Junior.
In Brazil, it is estimated that approximately 20 million people identify themselves as lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgenders, intersex individuals or other gender identities and/or sexual orientations. “We want a good portion of this population”, he reveals.
The creation of the bank aims to solve the pain and friction that LGBTI+ individuals face when dealing with traditional financial institutions, not always familiar with diversity.
Marcio highlights as an example the embarrassment suffered by transgender people who do not have a rectified name (officially changed in documents) or who cannot use their social name (the name by which they prefer to be called) on bank cards and documents.
“We found many of these complains in our research, which makes us surer that creating a bank that does not discriminate (its customers), and, moreover, celebrates all the characteristics of these people, is the right way to go”, says Orlandi Junior.
Pride Bank’s goals go beyond billing and customer numbers: the bank’s mission is to positively affect the lives of the LGBTI+ population through social causes, giving back to the community the trust it receives. To this end, it reserves 5% of its gross revenue for the Pride Institute, created in partnership with social technology company Welight to invest in non-governmental organizations (NGOs) linked to the LGBTI+ population.
Initially, three institutions will receive donations: Casa Arouchianos, which promotes culture, art and politics for the LGBTI + population in central São Paulo; Brenda Lee House, which houses vulnerable people living with HIV; and Eternamente Sou, aimed at welcoming older LGBTI+ people.
In the future, Marcio points out that the challenge is to have enough structure and expertise to solve as many pains in the LGBTI + community as possible. “We want to create a Pride Bank ecosystem that is bringing more and more services. The question of funding is important: How can I help an LGBTI+ person access fairer financing? How can I help them make safe, payback, and LGBT+ friendly business investments?” Marcio’s plan is to spread Pride Bank’s rainbow beyond financial transactions. “In the future, we will develop our marketing actions, which will focus on culture, cinema, entertainment, and concerts, all with a focus on the community. I have wilder dreams. I want to create and offer the LGBTI+ population health plans, trips, other things that are targeted and specific to their needs”, he explains.
Diversity on the rise
The emergence of Pride Bank illustrates the visibility of diversity issues in the innovation and entrepreneurship environment. For João Torres, partner of Mais Diversidade, Latin America’s largest diversity and inclusion consultancy, the market as a whole is more aware of the importance of ensuring an inclusive and healthy environment for the LGBTI+ population.
He points out that the first such initiatives emerged within large conglomerates and multinationals in the 1970s, but that the naturally more dynamic innovation ecosystem can more easily implement them.
“What has happened is that the processes of the most traditional companies prevent big changes from happening in a short period of time and the KPIs take decades to change dramatically. Startups, on the other hand, have a bolder environment, allowing them to experiment with more innovative policies and practices, and some of them have been considerably more successful in some ways than their traditional competitors”, he says.
“Creating a healthy, respectful, psychologically safe and work appreciated environment is no longer a differential; it is a matter of corporate survival,” adds Torres.
João suggests that quantity and quality should go hand in hand with diversity actions in the market. He also analyzes that the most innovative and flexible enterprises are taking the lead in the competition for high-performing professionals. “Those who do not adapt will increasingly suffer in this current ‘talent dispute’ and startups have shown a much greater appetite for rapid change than traditional companies”, he says.
Translated by Jennifer Ann Koppe