11M people in Brazil live in favelas and are currently overlooked or under-served by traditional financial service providers. Banco Maré is a blockchain powered digital financial services platform for low and moderate income consumers living in the favelas. Banco Maré offers bill payments, top-ups, P2P transfers, TEM Saude, a health assistance plan, and debt payment assistance. The platform is accessible via a mobile app and supported by local agents called Kioscos-- local shops that offer all of Banco Mare’s services and provide customer support.

Company Overview

CEO: Alexander Abulquerque
Founded: 2016
Market: Brazil
Product: Financial Services App
Sponsor: Omidyar Network 

Over the next six months, Banco Maré will receive $100,000 USD in grant capital and receive mentoring from its Catalyst Fund sponsoring investor, Omidyar Network. The company will also work with BFA to identify specific advisory engagements towards strategic milestones and a growth trajectory.

THE Problem and Solution

According to the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistic (IBGE), there are 55 million unbanked people in Brazil. Besides that, 11 million Brazilians live in favelas. These people are currently overlooked or under-served by traditional financial service providers – many of them don’t have access to basic financial services, such as bill payment service, debt payment assistance, bank cards, and so on.

With the motto, “A Simple Bank for a Simple Life”, Banco Maré offers an accessible platform of financial services, based on a mobile app and supported with presence in the favelas, through the local commerce. Banco Maré’s clients don’t need to pay any rate to have an account in the bank. Their customers are low and moderate income consumers living in these very favelas.

The Innovation

  • Offers financial services to people who live in favelas via a secure mobile banking app leveraging blockchain technology.

  • Partners with local retail stores, Kioscos, to reach target customers offline and build trust.

  • Develops their own cryptocurrency called Palafita, which people can purchase at Kioscos.

  • Via the app, users can pay bills, buy goods and services from local stores, make P2P transfers, and view account statements.

  • Leverages partnership with Facebook for social media advertising and for app payments via Whatsapp.

  • Works with TIM, an MNO company, to develop P2P services nationwide.

The Value Proposition

  • Offers affordable, secure and scalable digital financial services to low and moderate income people living in the Favelas using blockchain technology.

  • Tailors its offering to populations previously excluded from formal financial service providers, living in high risk environments.


Banco Mare is aligned with the Catalyst Fund learning agenda. They could help answer the following questions:

  • Can a digital bank build trust with customers to offer a wide range of app based financial services?

  • How can fintechs leverage blockchain technology to enable secured close-loop payment systems in low-safety environments, eliminating cash risks?