The market for electronic commerce payment services has just gained a heavyweight competitor, who promises to increase competition in the segment. Bradesco, Banco do Brasil and Cielo Wednesday announced the creation of Stelo, an intermediary of online payments for commercial establishments and “virtual pocketbook” for consumers.

The new company marks the entrance of banks in a field until then dominated by independent and internet-linked companies, such as Mercado Pago (owned by Mercado Libre), PagSeguro (from the Uol group), Paypal and Moip.

Known as “payment facilitators,” these companies are an alternative for retailers to the traditional payment-processing companies (like Cielo and Rede) at the time to decide on whether to accept credit card purchases. Their main appeal is to assume the risks of fraud, which is the responsibility of retailers in online purchases.

“This is the first company of its kind created by banks in Latin America,” says Marcelo Noronha, executive director of Bradesco. According to him, e-commerce transacted $52 billion last year, including airlines. The estimate is that it reaches R$74 billion in transactions in 2016.

According to Igor Senra, executive president of Moip, between 20% and 30% of commercial sales volume is transacted via facilitators.  He recalls, however, that the scope of action of the companies grew in recent years, also to transactions in the physical realm. In the spaces left by the large payment processors, they try to gain ground among small shop owners using card readers coupled to cell phones and tablets. “There (among the small shop owners) the volume is even larger. Door to door sales alone account for R$50 billion in the country,” says Mr. Senra.

Stelo’s goal is to carry out R$2.5 billion in e-commerce transactions and have 4 million active users (at least one transaction per month) through 2016. For 2018, the target is to have R$9 billion in transaction and 10 million users. “Our levers for growth are very strong, because we’re going to act simultaneously on both ends: on accrediting establishments and on reaching consumers with the virtual pocketbook,” says Ronaldo Varela, CEO of Stelo.

Stelo is in an operational test phase and will effectively begin operation in the second half. According to Mr. Varela, the company’s technological platform was developed in house, integrating its own tools with those of global technology suppliers, such as the case of its risk analysis platform.

Read more at Valor International