Over a coffee with Jean Christian: Expanding into Brazil

Adyen’s Head of Brazil talks data, culture and time travel

After kicking his career off in Brazil, Jean Christian moved to Europe, where he spent 10 years helping businesses grow into the ‘new economy’ during the early years of the internet.

He fell in love with payments due to the pivotal role it plays in all lines of businesses, and the potential he saw to really make an impact. 

How do you take your coffee?

Black and short. No sugar, nothing added. 

What are some key characteristics to business in Brazil? 

Europe and the US tend to be geared towards closing deals, whereas Brazil is all about personal relationships, and it is more common to strike a deal in a restaurant than in a boardroom. 

Also, in Brazil, companies are used to dealing with complexity, from high inflation rates to a lower-than average education level. As a result Brazilians have developed a flexible, creative approach to business. 

What are the most exciting companies in Brazil at the moment? 

Global players such as Netflix are demonstrating the potential of using data to drive growth, and I think it is exciting that traditional retailers, like Magazine Luiza and pure players like Netshoes, are now leveraging data to build more stable, scalable businesses.

Where do you see the Brazilian ecommerce market in 5 years time?

We have had some upheaval recently. But with all the measures that are being taken, both politically and economically we expect to be back on track very quickly.

Ecommerce in Brazil was growing at double-digit rates year on year, and there is still a lot of potential for growth in the market.

As a result, we expect to see a growing number of global businesses tapping into the market in the coming years. 

What about mcommerce? Would you say there is a big opportunity here? 

Oh yes. Brazil is one of the largest mobile markets in the world, with the highest growth rates. And, thanks to improved infrastructure and lower prices, more people will be online mobile-first, and adoption will accelerate. So businesses need to be ready. 

Fraud is a big concern for business in Brazil. How do you see fraud defense evolving?

Traditionally, companies relied on manual reviews to fight fraud, but we are seeing a shift towards the use of data to offset risk. Brazil merchants now understand that, the more they understand shoppers, the better they can combat fraud. 

Adyen now operates as an acquirer in Brazil, connecting businesses directly to the card schemes without the need for an intermediary. What impact do you see with this?

We offer a brand new solution with robust infrastructure, more transparency and higher authorization rates – it is a real game changer in Brazil.

Central Bank has been pushing to break up old monopolies for some time, and companies like Adyen help to demonstrate the benefits of an open market on the entire eco-system.

Adyen is growing fast in Brazil. What do you look for when you’re hiring?  

We look for a pioneering mentality. We want people who are excited by working in a company that initiates change, rather than following the status quo. 

So to summarize, what advice would you give to merchants entering Brazil? 

Brazil can be a tricky market to enter; there is a lot of red tape, and a lot of outdated processes, so it takes effort and planning.

A common mistake I see is that companies don’t take the time to understand the local environment, not just economic, but cultural aspects as well.

International players tend to think they know better. And that simply doesn’t work. Get to know the Brazilian market, and work with partners that can help you grow in a sustainable way.

And finally, if you had one superpower, what would it be? 

I’d like to be able to control time; I could do more interesting and exciting things, and could accelerate tasks that take too long. It would also make international travel a lot easier.

For more information about expanding into Brazil, download our Brazil payments guide below: 

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