Tech Roundup, Jan. 31, 2020 | Brazil’s bet to expand healthcare

. Jan 31, 2020
tech healthcare Photo: Denys Prykhodov/Shutterstock

You’re reading The Brazilian Report‘s weekly tech roundup, a digest of the most important news in technology and innovation in Brazil. This week’s topics: Should the government own healthcare data on the entire population? The booming digital payments market. Brazil’s complex industry loses steam. And more.

Tech is Brazil’s bet to expand healthcare. But is it too Orwellian?

On January 30, the Brazilian government launched

its Healthcare 4.0 initiative, seeking to integrate healthcare data from Brazilians in order to expand coverage. The idea is to use connected devices—such as smartwatches or cell phone apps—to reach municipalities that currently don&#8217;t have direct access to hospitals and care centers, particularly in the Amazon region. The goals are quite bold: &#8220;Brazil will be the first country of continental size to have an entirely integrated healthcare system,&#8221; forecast Health Minister Luiz Henrique Mandetta.</p> <p>The Healthcare 4.0 initiative will fund health tech programs and could inject between BRL 4 and 6 billion in federal investments.&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Why it matters.</strong> Big data has proven to be an effective weapon to avoid <a href="">pandemics</a>. A Canadian health monitoring platform sent the <a href="">first warnings about the coronavirus</a> in December 2019, long before the World Health Organization had notified the public.</p> <p><strong>Upside. </strong>By collecting real-time data on people&#8217;s health, the government seeks to plan ahead for preventive medicine programs, provide care in remote areas, perform epidemiological monitoring, expand vaccination coverage, and provide the possibility of telemedicine.</p> <p><strong>Yes, but … </strong>The data would be collected by private companies and stored within SUS, Brazil&#8217;s <a href="">Unified Healthcare System</a>. That can pose serious problems in the case of a <a href="">data breach</a>.</p> <p><strong>By the way.</strong> If the current coronavirus outbreak has reminded us of anything, it is that misinformation may spread faster than any epidemic. With that in mind, members of a congressional hearings committee on the spread of false information want harsher penalties for people who spread fake news on health issues.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <hr class="wp-block-separator"/> <h2>The booming market for digital payment solutions in Brazil</h2> <p>Latin Americans still rely heavily on cash, but the market for digital payment solutions has boomed in recent years—mainly thanks to the impressive proportion of online citizens in the region. By 2025, about 86 percent of <a href="">adults are expected to have a smartphone</a>—in Brazil, that rate was at 54 percent in 2017. Targeting these increasingly digital demographics, tech companies have launched myriad digital payment solutions:</p> <ul><li><strong>Ebanx</strong>, a Brazilian payment processing platform, has recently announced a new digital card for customers, releasing 10,000 units for a trial.</li><li><strong>Visa</strong> is bringing to Brazil its solution for real-time money transfers to any account related to an active card or other payment devices.</li><li>Facebook has confirmed the launch of <strong>WhatsApp Payments</strong>, and Brazil—where WhatsApp is the most-downloaded app—is among the countries where the technology will be available first.</li><li>Linx, a tech company that produces solutions for retailers, has purchased <strong>PinPag</strong>—which produces customized solutions for payments in installments—for BRL 135 million.</li></ul> <p><strong>By the numbers. </strong>According to the latest edition of the Tech Mining Report by market research company Distrito, Brazil has 553 fintechs and one-fifth of them work in the payments segment.</p> <p><strong>Why it matters.</strong> Brazil has around 45 million adults outside of the banking system. For many living in remote areas, digital solutions are the only option to open accounts. This market, long neglected by traditional banks, is now seen as a gold mine.</p> <hr class="wp-block-separator"/> <h2>Brazil losing the race to export complex manufactured goods</h2> <p>High- and medium-complexity goods—such as vehicles, auto parts, planes, machinery, and medicines—accounted for just 32 percent of Brazil&#8217;s transformation industry&#8217;s exports in 2019. This is the lowest rate since 1995, according to Iedi, the Institute of Studies for Industrial Development. Experts say that &#8220;the 2019 U.S.-China trade war is the main culprit for a 7.9-percent retraction in Brazil&#8217;s transformation industry.&#8221;</p> <p>According to the Brazilan Foreign Trade Association (AEB), overall manufactured goods represented 35 percent of Brazilian total exports last year—the lowest in 40 years. In 2000, that rate was at 60 percent.</p> <div class="flourish-embed" data-src="visualisation/1314951"></div><script src=""></script> <p><strong>Exposed. &#8220;</strong>A turbulent global scenario laid bare long-lasting problems, such as a lack of competitiveness of Brazilian manufactured goods due to the so-called &#8216;Brazil cost,'&#8221; said Iedi&#8217;s economist Rafael Cagnin in a statement, referring to the excessive, complex, and expensive red tape in Brazil. The OECD estimates that production costs in Brazil are 22 percent higher than in developed nations.</p> <p><strong>Why it matters.</strong> Complex production chains are highly valuable as they generate more jobs—and generally offer better-paying positions.</p> <hr class="wp-block-separator"/> <h2>Take note</h2> <p><strong>Streaming 1.</strong> The streaming market in Brazil is about to become more crowded, as the American platform Roku enters the country. Roku sets foot in Brazil through a partnership with television manufacturer AOC—and will compete directly with products such as Google Chromecast, the Amazon Fire Stick, and Apple TV.</p> <p><strong>Streaming 2.</strong> Meanwhile, Globoplay—the streaming service of media powerhouse TV Globo—was launched in the U.S. market on January 19. The media group wants to gradually launch Globoplay in regions where it already has a TV channel—130 countries, including the U.S. Available for USD 13.99, it offers over 500 titles among library classics and original shows. The on-demand video platform debuted in Brazil five years ago, and reportedly draws 22 million unique visitors per month.</p> <p><strong>Banking.</strong> State-controlled bank Banco do Brasil could launch a public selection process targeting IT professionals, in a push to modernize the bank&#8217;s offers. CEO Rubem Novaes said the bank has trouble retaining talent—and that it struggled to compete with the high salaries fintechs offer to lure top-notch professionals.</p> <p><strong>Politics.</strong> TV presenter Luciano Huck has surpassed President Jair Bolsonaro in a social media popularity ranking among possible presidential candidates in 2022. On a scale from 0 to 100, Mr. Huck scored 75.36, followed by Mr. Bolsonaro (66.24), and Lula (29.09). The score takes into consideration the number of followers, engagement rate, positive reactions to posts, and profile activity.

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Gustavo Ribeiro

An award-winning journalist, Gustavo has extensive experience covering Brazilian politics and international affairs. He has been featured across Brazilian and French media outlets and founded The Brazilian Report in 2017. He holds a master’s degree in Political Science and Latin American studies from Panthéon-Sorbonne University in Paris.

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