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Contxto – Olivia is an artificial intelligence (AI) assistant that’s proved its mettle in the United States. But for its Brazilian founders, deploying Olivia in the largest Latin American country had always been part of the plan.
Now thanks to an investment round for R$25 million (around US$5.9 million) led by BVx, the investment and innovation arm of Brazilian bank BV, their plans have become a reality. Another investor on this occasion was MSW Capital, through the BR Startups fund.
Besides providing for the official release of its app in Brazil, the fintech will use the investment to hire more staff.
Related article: Brazilian fintech Neon closes Series B worth US$95 million
Smart spending through artificial intelligence
Olivia is an AI solution launched in 2015 that helps people manage their money. Its headquarters are in California but its founders, Lucas Moraes and Cristiano Oliveira, are Brazilian.
The startup’s app is free for downloading and, after gaining the user’s permission, connects to their bank account to monitor transactions and spending behavior. From there, its algorithm provides personalized insights so the person can spend smartly.
It also has a chat feature where Olivia can ask the person questions regarding a transaction as well as provide tips.
For example, if someone constantly buys Starbucks coffee Monday through Friday, Olivia may advise the user to cut down that habit. Or buy a cheaper option.
Besides BV Bank, the fintech already partnered with other Brazilian institutions such as Itaú, Banco do Brasil, and Nubank. Moreover, this is the official, full release of Olivia in Brazil. But since mid-2019 it had already launched a pilot to test-drive its product.
Related article: The evergrowing fintech landscape in Mexico
A new take for better personal finances?
There are numerous fintech apps out there through which people can manually register their income, expenses, and other transactions. As a user of such an app, I’ll admit sometimes I’m a bit lazy and don’t register my expenses. Thus, the point of it is lost.
Olivia, by connecting directly to a user’s account, leapfrogs this bad habit to better register and understand a person’s financial behavior directly through their bank account.
Nonetheless, despite all the neobank and digital bank buzz out there, Brazil and the region are still highly cash-dependent. Consequently, Olivia’s help in that direction (monitoring the flow of cash) may be limited.
It’s likely that as digital banks continue to grow in traction, Olivia’s potential market can grow further.
And in any case, in Latam, financial education is still needed. An assistant with artificial intelligence may provide valuable advice, but ultimately the user is still free to make compulsive purchases.
In that regard, I should take my own advice one of these days.