LGBTQ bank goes live in Brazil

. Aug 17, 2020
pride bank lgbtq Photo: Pride Bank

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We’re covering the launch of Brazil’s first financial institution tailored to LGBTQ customers. An exclusive report concerning President Jair Bolsonaro’s talks of a coup d’état.

Pride Bank comes out today

As Brazil’s first LGBTQ-oriented bank,

Pride Bank will open to the public today after almost one year of &#8220;beta operations,&#8221; during which only invited customers had access to their services. The bank tries to set itself apart by promising to invest 5 percent of its gross income to finance LGBTQ-inclusion projects. It will also allow transgender customers to use their social names, as opposed to the names on their birth certificates.</p> <ul><li>Pride Bank will also have a prepaid debit card — which allows people with credit restrictions to use its services as well.&nbsp;</li></ul> <p><strong>Why it matters.</strong> Pink money — a term used to describe the LGBTQ community&#8217;s purchasing power — was estimated at USD 134 billion per year (BRL 722 billion).</p> <ul><li>Same-sex couples are overwhelmingly DINKs (&#8220;dual income, no kids&#8221;), often leaving them with more disposable income.</li></ul> <p><strong>Projections.</strong> While Pride Bank officially avoids disclosing projections, CEO Marcio Orlandi Junior said in an interview that they are confident: &#8220;The potential is huge, we could reach at least 5 percent of that [LGBTQ] public.&#8221; That would correspond to over 1 million people.</p> <p><strong>Discrimination.</strong> There is little data on sexual orientation-based discrimination by Brazilian banking institutions. But a 2019 study from Iowa State University shows that, in the U.S., same-sex couples are <a href="https://www.nbcnews.com/feature/nbc-out/same-sex-borrowers-73-percent-more-likely-be-denied-mortgage-n996016">73 percent more likely to have mortgage loan applications turned down</a> than heterosexual couples. Those who are approved have to face above-average interest rates, despite being less likely to default.</p> <ul><li>A LinkedIn survey says half of LGBTQ Brazilians have come out to their coworkers, but 25 percent have kept their sexual orientation a secret for fears of not being accepted.&nbsp;</li></ul> <p><strong>Improvement.</strong> Companies in Brazil are becoming more and more aware of the need for diversity of gender and sexual orientation. According to the LGBT+ Forum of Companies and Rights, over <a href="https://www.uol.com.br/universa/noticias/redacao/2019/06/01/grupos-lgbt-lutam-por-espaco-e-por-mudancas-no-ambiente-corporativo.htm#:~:text=No%20Brasil%2C%20cinco%20grandes%20empresas,Gamble%20(P%26G)%20e%20Whirpool.">3,000 transgender professionals</a> were hired by big corporations, a major push for one of the most marginalized groups in the job market.</p> <p><strong>First LGBTQ?</strong> Pride Bank boasts that it is the world&#8217;s first digital bank specifically tailored to the LGBTQ population. Digital is the operative word in this claim, as a credit union in the U.S. state of Michigan was actually the <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/shortcuts/2019/sep/10/lgbtq-credit-unions-answer-to-financial-discrimination">world&#8217;s first financial institution</a> (digital or otherwise) targeted at the LGBTQ community.</p> <p><strong>Timing.</strong> The launch to the general public was scheduled for June, when São Paulo hosts what is arguably the world&#8217;s biggest Pride Parade. But the event, which raises around BRL 400 million to the city every year, was canceled in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.</p> <hr class="wp-block-separator"/> <h2>Exclusive: Coup talks a regular thing for Bolsonaro</h2> <p>In its <a href="https://piaui.folha.uol.com.br/materia/vou-intervir/">August issue</a>, monthly magazine Piauí told the story of a May 22 meeting between President Jair Bolsonaro and his closest advisers. The head of state is reported to have threatened to send troops to the Supreme Court, vacating its 11 seats. Mr. Bolsonaro was furious about the possibility of the court ordering him to surrender his cell phone as evidence in a federal probe on whether he illegally tried to meddle with the Federal Police.</p> <p>Mr. Bolsonaro was then talked down, with his chief security officer Augusto Heleno reportedly saying “it was not the time,” and proposing instead a pointed open letter, saying that the Supreme Court&#8217;s behavior could lead to “unpredictable consequences.”</p> <ul><li>For <strong>The Brazilian Report</strong>, journalist Débora Álvares spoke with eight independent sources about the behind-closed-doors discussion: two attended the meeting; four are close to those who did, and another two are close advisors to the president. She was able to confirm the veracity of the Piauí story, also learning that May 22 was not the only time Mr. Bolsonaro has discussed toppling Brazil&#8217;s democratic institutions. Friends of the president confirmed having &#8220;chatted&#8221; about &#8220;sending troops to shut down&#8221; Congress or the Supreme Court.</li></ul> <p><strong>What they say.</strong> &#8220;In moments of rage, when the court intervenes in government actions, of course his wish is to shut it down,&#8221; said one source. &#8220;In the intimacy of the [presidential] palace, in confidence, he has mentioned it. But I&#8217;m sure he doesn&#8217;t mean it,&#8221; says another.</p> <ul><li>In the weekend following the May 22 meeting, Defense Minister Fernando Azevedo sat down with the heads of Brazil&#8217;s three Armed Forces to expose the president&#8217;s tantrum. &#8220;There was no request [for military action],&#8221; said one source familiar with what was discussed. &#8220;It is known that the heads of the forces are absolutely against any kind of coup,&#8221; the source continued.</li></ul> <p><strong>Why it matters.</strong> Débora Álvares&#8217; report shows that, given the proper conditions, Brazil&#8217;s president would welcome the idea of a self-coup, making his administration the most troubled moment in 35 years of Brazilian democracy.</p> <ul><li>These dangers may be dissuaded somewhat by the fact that the Armed Forces — which in the 20th century were <a href="https://brazilian.report/podcast/2018/11/14/brazil-coups-revolutions-history/">frequently involved in coups</a> — seem unwilling to create such conditions.</li></ul> <p><strong>Yes, but … </strong>The more politically comfortable Mr. Bolsonaro becomes, the more he allows himself to charge at democratic institutions. And latest polls show his <a href="https://brazilian.report/newsletters/brazil-daily/2020/08/14/despite-pandemic-mismanagement-bolsonaro-approval-ratings-go-up/">popularity ratings at their highest levels</a> since he took office — which could raise tensions between branches of government.</p> <hr class="wp-block-separator"/> <h2>Markets</h2> <p>Locals in, foreigners out. While foreign investors fled Brazil during the coronavirus crisis —&nbsp;pulling BRL 45 billion (USD 8.3 billion) from the country — around 900,000 Brazilians began trading on the domestic stock market, taking the total tally of individual investors to almost 3 million. With benchmark interest rates at their lowest levels ever (2 percent a year), traditional fixed-income funds pay minimal returns, pushing investors towards riskier assets.</p> <hr class="wp-block-separator"/> <h2>1 of 10 Brazilians would <em>not</em> get Covid-19 vaccine if available today</h2> <p>According to pollster Datafolha, 89 percent of Brazilians would be willing to take a Covid-19 vaccine if it were available today —&nbsp;while 9 percent would be skeptical of its safety and effectiveness. With its uncontrolled coronavirus spread, Brazil has become a <a href="https://brazilian.report/podcast/2020/08/05/brazil-place-in-the-race-for-a-covid-19-vaccine-podcast/">key player in the race for a vaccine</a>, with the three most advanced potential vaccines relying on trials within the country. Last week, the state of Paraná inked a deal with Russia to secure the still-unproven Sputnik V vaccine, announced by the Kremlin on August 11.</p> <div class="flourish-embed flourish-chart" data-src="visualisation/3488737"><script src="https://public.flourish.studio/resources/embed.js"></script></div> <hr class="wp-block-separator"/> <h2>Looking ahead</h2> <ul><li><strong>Austerity? </strong>Last week, two top Economy Ministry officials resigned due to frustrations over the government&#8217;s perceived <a href="https://brazilian.report/power/2020/08/12/paulo-guedes-is-losing-the-battle-for-brazilian-public-spending/">lack of commitment to austerity and privatizations</a> — two of the administration&#8217;s campaign promises. Economy Minister Paulo Guedes managed to strongarm President Jair Bolsonaro into <a href="https://brazilian.report/newsletters/brazil-daily/2020/08/12/two-key-figures-resign-brazil-economy-ministry/">publicly defending</a> the respect for the federal spending cap — to the detriment of stimulating the economy. But the president has sent mixed signals. Behind the scenes, he has said that Mr. Guedes should be &#8220;less strict&#8221; when it comes to the budget. Several reports claim Mr. Bolsonaro believes the Economy Minister is no longer &#8220;indispensable&#8221; for him, suggesting that a change might be in the works.</li><li><strong>Tax collection. </strong>The week will not bring many significant economic indicators, except for the tax revenue figures from July. The coronavirus crisis saw tax collection for June hit its lowest level in 16 years: BRL 86 billion, or 30 percent below June 2019 levels.</li><li><strong>WTO.</strong> Brazil is expected to file a complaint at the World Trade Organization against the Philippines after it suspended Brazilian poultry imports due to coronavirus fears. The embargo was called after Chinese authorities said <a href="https://brazilian.report/business/2020/08/13/chinese-authorities-say-coronavirus-found-chicken-brazilian-poultry/">traces of the coronavirus were found in a poultry shipment</a>. Brazilian producers say the contamination probably did not happen in Brazil — and that there is no evidence of risks of food-to-person transmission.</li></ul> <hr class="wp-block-separator"/> <h2>In case you missed it</h2> <ul><li><strong>Coronavirus.</strong> Brazil has reached 3.3 million confirmed Covid-19 infections and nearly 108,000 deaths as of Sunday evening. The pandemic has affected <a href="https://g1.globo.com/bemestar/coronavirus/noticia/2020/08/16/covid-19-chega-a-987percent-dos-municipios-brasileiros.ghtml">98.7 percent of Brazil&#8217;s municipalities</a>, with only 67 staying free of the virus.&nbsp;&nbsp;</li><li><strong>Approval ratings. </strong>Despite Brazil having the second-worst death tallies in the world, President Jair Bolsonaro is currently posting his <a href="https://brazilian.report/newsletters/brazil-daily/2020/08/14/despite-pandemic-mismanagement-bolsonaro-approval-ratings-go-up/">highest approval ratings</a> since taking office in January 2019. Most of the president&#8217;s newfound support comes from households with family incomes of up to BRL 3,000 (USD 559) per month, largely made up of informal workers or the unemployed. These demographics are the ones eligible to receive the government’s BRL 600 monthly emergency salary.</li><li><strong>Corruption.</strong> Despite the rise in popularity, things are not exactly rosy in the Bolsonaro camp. On Thursday, the Superior Court of Justice issued an order sending Fabrício Queiroz — a long-time friend of the president who worked as a fixer for his family — back to jail after being transferred into house arrest. Mr. Queiroz is a key part in an investigation into a <a href="https://brazilian.report/power/2020/08/12/corruption-case-against-jair-bolsonaro-son-fabricio-queiroz/">money-laundering scheme that operated within the office of Senator Flávio Bolsonaro</a>, the president’s eldest son, and is linked to First Lady Michelle Bolsonaro.</li><li><strong>Finance. </strong>The Brazilian Central Bank has officially <a href="https://brazilian.report/newsletters/brazil-daily/2020/08/13/new-instant-payment-system-closer-launch-brazil/">approved regulations for PIX</a>, an <a href="https://brazilian.report/business/2020/08/13/will-2020-see-overhaul-payments-market-brazil/">instant payment system</a> set to be operational by November 16. Announced in February, PIX will allow transactions to be concluded in no more than 10 seconds — and accounts will be credited instantly, at any time of the day. Currently, transactions can only be processed and credited to recipients during business hours.&nbsp;</li><li><strong>Lebanon.</strong> Brazil sent roughly 6 tons of hospital supplies, food, and medicines to Lebanon — as part of a <a href="https://brazilian.report/power/2020/08/16/mission-lebanon-reinforces-brazil-humanitarian-role/">relief effort to help survivors of the massive August 4 explosion</a> in the capital Beirut. With 10 million people descending from the country, Brazil’s Lebanese diaspora is the largest in the world — almost three times the population of Lebanon itself.

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