Tech Roundup: The coexistence of construction firms and ConstruTechs

. Jul 17, 2020
Tech Roundup: The coexistence of construction firms and ConstruTechs Image: André Chiavassa/TBR

You’re reading The Brazilian Report’s weekly tech roundup, a digest of the most important news on technology and innovation in Brazil. This week’s topics: long-term construction firms seeking to catch up to ConstruTech technology, digital banks striking deals with telecom companies, and Brazilian hackers go global.

Bridging the gap between traditional construction firms and ConstruTechs 

New research by consultancy Deloitte shows that matching the technology offered by Brazil’s ConstruTechs

— startups that innovate in the<a href=""> construction industry</a> — and long-established construction firms may be the solution to bringing innovation to a sector that has seen little disruption over time. However, succeeding in this endeavor is no easy task.</p> <p><strong>Findings. </strong>The research consulted 270 Brazilian corporate builders, finding the following issues to be<strong> </strong>among several obstacles for innovation:</p> <ul><li>36 percent don’t have a budget for innovation;</li><li>59 percent don’t even have an innovation team;</li><li>41 percent don’t have an innovation strategy;</li><li>39 percent of startups believe big companies’ innovation programs do not add as much value to startups.</li></ul> <p><strong>Match. </strong>Curiously, the very technologies big construction companies want to implement, such as artificial intelligence, are already being offered by startups.&nbsp;</p> <div class="flourish-embed flourish-chart" data-src="visualisation/3208248" data-url=""><script src=""></script></div> <p><strong>Mind the gap.</strong> While big companies mention a lack of financial resources as the main obstacle for innovation, startups say executives have no interest in teaming up with new players. Daniel Kozuchowicz, an innovation leader at homebuilder SKR, told <strong>The Brazilian Report</strong> that builders prefer to stick to tier guns, “which are developing land banks.”&nbsp;</p> <ul><li>To help create an innovation culture at SKR, the company brought in IT professionals and created the venture building Skwiz Lab, its own unit dedicated to innovation.&nbsp;&nbsp;</li></ul> <p><strong>Different fronts. </strong>&nbsp;In his view, the use of high tech developments — such as 3D printing for building — is still limited in Brazil, due to the cultural preferences of consumers for brick and mortar walls, as well as the fact there’s still a lot of room to grow <a href="">and an abundant workforce.</a>&nbsp;</p> <ul><li>However, with products increasingly similar in São Paulo, the country’s main market, betting on integrating tech in buildings to dazzle customers in a post-delivery experience is becoming an important competitive edge.&nbsp;</li><li>Mr. Kozuchowicz mentions that SKR created Compass, an app that helps homeowners communicate within the building and perform tasks such as reserving common spaces. He also mentions the company is focusing on new features, such as parking for <a href="">electric cars,</a> to maintain this competitive edge.&nbsp;&nbsp;</li></ul> <hr class="wp-block-separator"/> <h2>Trying to lure clients, digital banks cozy up to telecom operators</h2> <p>In a move that seems to be spreading in Brazil’s financial sector, digital banks are announcing partnerships with telecom operators, providing advantages such as free access to their apps and sponsored data packages, bringing a digital twist to a long-term strategy in the financial sector.&nbsp;</p> <ul><li>C6 Bank and TIM, the Brazilian unit of Telecom Italia, announced new benefits to their partnership initiated in March. TIM customers who open accounts with the bank will receive a 4GB data bonus in some plans, plus an equal-sized bonus everytime they pay for their TIM bills using the C6 app. They will also be able to pay for smartphones in up to 18 installments and receive better returns for investing in bank bonds.&nbsp;</li><li>Meanwhile, Claro teamed up with Banco Pan. Customers who open an account with the bank will have an extra 600MB of data. The partnership is the most recent one assembled by the financial institution, which has also partnered with personal finance fintech Mobilis and drugstore chain Droga Raia.</li></ul> <p><strong>Not unprecedented.</strong> Major banks such as Itaú had already adopted similar strategies — including offering data bonuses to their customers — but not in such aggressive ways. Plus, big banks focus more on other partnerships, such as with movie theaters, in order to boost customers’ loyalty.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Why it matters. </strong>Accessing the huge customer base of telecom operators provides banks with a massive growth opportunity. Meanwhile, operators are getting an advantage in a sector with quite similar offers, which often struggles with low levels of customer satisfaction.&nbsp;</p> <hr class="wp-block-separator"/> <h2>Brazilian hackers go global, but attacks on local firms won’t stop</h2> <p>After years focusing their attention to financial frauds in Brazil, local hackers are now going global, according to <a href="">researchers</a> from cybersecurity firm Kaspersky. In their latest discovery, the researchers found that a group of four large banking trojan families created by Brazilian hackers are now spreading around Europe and Latin America, with potential to reach North America as well.&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>The threats. </strong>Nicknamed by Kaspersky as “The<strong> </strong>Tetrade”, the trojan malwares are:</p> <ul><li><strong>Guildma: </strong>active since 2015. It relies heavily on emails containing a malicious file in a compressed format. Most of the phishing messages have a corporate appearance and new attempts even quote the Covid-19 pandemic.</li><li><strong>Javali: </strong>active since 2017. It primarily focuses on the customers of financial institutions located in Brazil and Mexico and also spreads through pfishing.</li><li><strong>Melcoz: </strong>active in Brazil for years, but has gone global since 2018. Melcoz steals passwords from browsers and memory, providing remote access to capture online banking access and even steal Bitcoin wallets. There are confirmed victims in Mexico and Chile, which made Kaspersky researchers believe that “Brazilian cybercriminals are working with local groups of coders and mules to withdraw stolen money, managed by different operators, selling access to its infrastructure and malware constructors.”</li><li><strong>Grandoreiro: </strong>active since 2016, it is the most widespread of the four trojans. It has different codes for operations in Brazil and abroad. “The cluster targeting Brazil used hacked websites and Google Ads to drive users to download the malicious installer. The campaign targeting other countries used spear-phishing as the delivery method,” say the researchers.</li></ul> <p><strong>Beyond banking. </strong>With Covid-19, Brazilian companies that had to migrate to remote work became more exposed than ever. Research by cybersecurity firm CheckPoint found out that in the past six months, Brazilian companies were targeted by hackers 517 times a week, while the global average is 476 attacks. &nbsp;</p> <ul><li>51 percent of the attacks targeting Brazil in the past 30 days happened via email.&nbsp;</li><li>35 percent of local companies did not block the access of corporate information through computers that were not logged in the companies’ VPN, “opening the door for criminals.&#8221;</li></ul> <p><strong>Why it matters. </strong>Cyber threats pose an increasing danger to Brazilian companies, as they may be severely penalized by the time the local General Data Protection Law (LGPD) is enforced. Plus, the fact that Brazilian criminals are associating with others in global hacker networks may expose countries with less cybersecurity protection and increase losses exponentially.&nbsp;</p> <hr class="wp-block-separator"/> <h2>Take note</h2> <ul><li><strong>Social impact.</strong> Facebook selected 12 community leaders in Brazil to take part in their Community Accelerator 2020, a six-month training program that offers mentorship and funding to expand their communities. In total, USD 3 million will be invested in 77 leaders from all over the world. Brazilian nominees work in a diverse range of topics, from entrepreneurship to helping refugees and even journalism in vulnerable areas. See the full list of nominees <a href="">here</a>.</li><li><strong>Fintechs.</strong> Mercado Libre is about to meet heavyweight competition in Argentina. Play Digital, a fintech company powered by 25 banks including founders Santander, Macro, Galicia and BBVA, is set to launch Dimo, its own digital wallet. <a href="">According to Infobae</a>, it will be available for free for customers, and will include a QR payment function. It also aims to provide money transfers via phone contacts, making it as easy as sending a WhatsApp message. There is no official launch for Dimo, but Infobae sources estimate the system will be ready by September.</li><li><strong>Public administration.</strong> Brazilian state lawmakers created a <a href="">digital database</a> to share local legislation related to Covid-19. The idea is to help counterparts be inspired by the work of other states and adopt proven solutions at home. In the same spirit, a <a href="">bill</a> submitted to the House of Representatives make the systems used to deliver the coronavirus emergency aid available to states, in order to make cash transfer programs easier for local administrations.</li><li><strong>M&amp;A. </strong>Niklas Ostberg, the CEO of German startup Delivery Hero, told Bloomberg that the Berlin-based company is open to make a bid for Colombian firm Rappi or Barcelona-based Glovo, after investing USD 105 million and USD 58 million in them, respectively. “We are no longer in a position where we feel we have to do M&amp;A, and we’d rather invest in our business (…) But of course, if good opportunities come up, then we won’t hesitate to take them,” he was quoted as saying.</li><li><strong>Open banking. </strong>The Brazilian Central bank postponed the delivery of the governance structure for open banking until July 24, after banks, fintechs and credit cards asked for a longer deadline, <a href="">reports</a> Valor Econômico. Companies said they had little time to sign contracts with each other and were in doubt about which documents they should present. Meanwhile, the monetary authority announced which sectoral entities will be part of open banking’s council and be responsible for designing the rules — including the Brazilian Banking Federation (Febraban), Association of Fintechs (ABFintechs), and Credit Card Companies Association (Abecs).

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Natália Scalzaretto

Natália Scalzaretto has worked for companies such as Santander Brasil and Reuters, where she covered news ranging from commodities to technology. Before joining The Brazilian Report, she worked as an editor for Trading News, the information division from the TradersClub investor community.

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