Tech Roundup: Vale launches Brazil’s first electric train

. Sep 18, 2020
vale electric locomotive Photo: Vale

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: Vale launches the first electric locomotive in Brazil, Claro’s push to revive pay-TV and app couriers moves to regulate their career.

Brazil’s first electric train makes maiden voyage

Developed by mining giant Vale in partnership with U.S. company Caterpillar Progress Rail,

Brazil&#8217;s first electric locomotive made a successful maiden voyage on September 12. The new line connects the city of Sete Lagoas, in a mining-intensive region of Minas Gerais, to its Tubarão unit, in the state of Espírito Santo — the world&#8217;s largest pellet-producing center.</p> <ul><li>The train is in a trial stage and will be powered by a battery that can run for up to 24 hours without recharging.</li></ul> <p><strong>Why it matters.</strong> The electric line is part of a Vale plan to reduce its carbon footprint by one-third by 2030 and go fully carbon neutral by 2050. According to the firm, railway transport makes up for 10 percent of its greenhouse emissions.</p> <p><strong>Yes, but … </strong>As Benjamin Fogel reported earlier this week, Vale still has <a href="">failed to significantly improve safety procedures</a> and suggest appropriate changes to its operations after multiple environmental disasters.</p> <ul><li>Federal prosecutors are launching a number of new lawsuits, claiming that Vale has still only made cosmetic changes.</li></ul> <p><strong>Innovation. </strong>Besides the electric train, innovation efforts by Vale include a project to <a href="">develop a 5G lab</a> to support <a href="">Industry 4.0</a> operations.&nbsp;</p> <hr class="wp-block-separator"/> <h2>Delivery app workers ask Congress to regulate industry</h2> <p>Left-leaning lawmakers and union leaders have requested House Speaker Rodrigo Maia to put for vote a bill establishing labor regulations on delivery apps. In a push for better wages and social security protections, <a href="">app workers staged a strike in July</a> — raising awareness about their often appalling working conditions.</p> <p><strong>What they want.</strong> Delivery workers want a &#8220;minimum wage&#8221; to be paid for each delivery. Over the past few years, logistics apps have become the most signifcant job-creating sector in Brazil, and increasing competition meant that workers were getting paid less and less for their work. In order to make 20 deliveries in São Paulo, workers must ride for an average of 15 hours — earning less than USD 0.19 per kilometer.</p> <ul><li>Moreover, they want apps to stop &#8220;blacklisting&#8221; disgruntled couriers that demand labor rights, and push for insurance against accidents and healthcare.</li></ul> <p><strong>By the way.</strong> Motorcycle delivery has already been regulated in Brazil since 2009, with the law demanding special training before workers can start —&nbsp;as well as special protective equipment.</p> <p><strong>Results.</strong> Mr. Maia promised to create a special committee to draft a bill granting the workers&#8217; main requests.</p> <hr class="wp-block-separator"/> <h2>Claro wants to revive pay-TV in Brazil</h2> <p>According to Claro Brazil CEO José Félix, the telecom operator will launch a new service aiming to &#8220;rekind Brazilians&#8217; interest in pay-TV.&#8221; During an online sector event, he said this new service will consist of &#8220;alternative subscription packages&#8221; for customers who don&#8217;t have access to Claro&#8217;s pay-TV services —&nbsp;but didn&#8217;t confirm if he was talking about a streaming service.</p> <p><strong>Why it matters. </strong>Pay-TV subscriptions have been declining for years in Brazil and Latin America.&nbsp;</p> <ul><li>The region is expected to end 2020 with <a href="">62.2 million subscribers to streaming video services</a>, a 36-percent increase on last year’s figures. Subscribers to this type of service are on pace to outsize the traditional pay-TV customer base for the first time ever.</li></ul> <div class="flourish-embed flourish-chart" data-src="visualisation/2740181" data-url="" aria-label=""><script src=""></script></div> <p><strong>Context.</strong> The announcement comes just days after Claro lost a legal battle against Fox. In 2018, <a href="">Claro filed a complaint</a> at the National Telecommunications Agency (Anatel) claiming that Fox+ breached the Brazilian legislation as it allowed for subscriptions without a distributor. Anatel, however, <a href=";infoid=54813&amp;sid=4">sided with Fox</a>.</p> <p><strong>Newcomers.</strong> Besides this still-mysterious service by Claro, Brazil&#8217;s paid-for-content sector will include multiple new channels, with Disney+ scheduled to <a href=",disney-deve-estrear-em-17-de-novembro-no-brasil,70003403653">launch</a> on November 17, and ViacomCBS&#8217; Pluto TV arriving in December.</p> <ul><li>Pluto TV will use a free model, running ads between programs — much like traditional broadcasting. That setup has been considered successful in other Latin American countries. In Brazil, the service will <a href=",pluto-tv-chega-ao-brasil-em-dezembro-com-plataforma-gratuita-de-streaming,70003408052">premiere</a> with 24 channels and on-demand movies.</li></ul> <hr class="wp-block-separator"/> <h2>Take note</h2> <ul><li><strong>Downsizing.</strong> Sony will <a href="">shut down</a> in March 2021 its electronics plants in the Manaus Free Trade Zone, after 48 years of operations. The decision comes as the company lost market share — but Sony will keep an office in Brazil to commercialize its best-selling product in the country: PlayStation consoles.</li><li><strong>Jobs.</strong> Amazon Inc announced the creation of 2,000 remote jobs in Colombia to expand its service worldwide, reported La República. New workers will be located in Bogotá, Cali, Medellín, Barranquilla, and Bucaramanga.</li><li><strong>Digital.</strong> Bradesco, Brazil&#8217;s second-largest private bank, launched new digital wallet&nbsp; BITZ. The bank plans to <a href="">invest BRL 100 million</a> in the service over the next year, aiming to grab 20 to 25 percent of the digital wallet market by 2023.</li><li><strong>Open banking.</strong> Fintech Quanto, specializing in providing API solutions for financial services, <a href="">raised USD 15 million</a> in its first investment round, luring Brazil&#8217;s two largest banks: Itaú Unibanco and Bradesco. Funds Coatue and Kaszek Ventures also chipped in. The round happened as interest for open banking is going up, weeks before regulations of these services will be enforced in Brazil. Quanto plans to use the money for recruitment and expedite product development.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</li><li><strong>Data protection.</strong> A group of legal scholars will present a <a href="">project</a> to the Brazilian lower house, pushing for regulations on Article 4 of the General Data Protection Law (LGPD). The article concerns data protection for police investigations and security and national defense purposes. The group&#8217;s main concerns are over how facial recognition technologies will be used and the parameters used to determine when authorities can access people&#8217;s private WhatsApp messages.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</li><li><strong>Apps.</strong> Initially conceived to reward users for the time they spent in traffic, Peruvian app Gózzalo found a way to reinvent itself before launch —&nbsp;and now is granting rewards for people who stay at home in Lima. Users who have remained within the same 100-meter radius get <a href="">discounts in 100 companies</a>. So far, the app has 2,500 active users, but aims to expand to the cities of Piura, Arequipa, Trujillo by the end of the year.&nbsp;</li><li><strong>5G.</strong> A <a href="">new report</a> by telecom giant Ericsson estimates that, by 2030, digitization will generate BRL 391 billion in revenues for Brazilian companies — BRL 153 billion coming just from advantages brought by 5G technology. Being a 5G provider, Ericsson is not an unbiased player, of course.

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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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