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Nubank’s co-founder Cristina Junqueira talks inflation concerns, serving the underserved after blockbuster IPO

December 9, 2021, 10:21 PM UTC

Cristina Junqueira became a billionaire today after shares in the Brazilian fintech company she co-founded, Nubank, started trading after an initial public offering.

The company’s stock rose 15% above the initial offer price to close above $10, and a market cap of $47.6 billion, making Nubank’s value the third-highest of all public companies in Brazil.

Nubank, which raised $2.6 billion in the IPO, has been a rising force in the fintech industry since it was founded in 2013, with its fee-free credit card and mobile banking app providing a stark contrast from traditional Brazilian banking’s high interest rates and costs.   

Last month, the company shared plans to raise $3.7 billion in an IPO filing, but Nubank eventually lowered its intended share price last week from $11 to $9, which the company says was a result of its dual listing in the U.S. and Brazil.  

“We had to put out a price range much earlier with much less information,” Junqueira, who is also the company’s CEO for Brazil, told Fortune. “The markets’ course is unpredictable, as they are, and it just made sense.”

In June, Nubank received a $500 million investment from Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway. But even before Buffet’s investment, Nubank had caught the eye of well-known names like Tiger Global, Sequoia Capital and SoftBank.

Last year, Fortune named Junqueira to its 40 Under 40 list, the company’s annual selection of the most influential young people in business. 

“It’s always a privilege to be able to have investors like Berkshire Hathaway. We’ve been very lucky with the support of investors ever since we started the company,” Junqueira said. “Berkshire, of course, brings a lot of credibility and is so successful in what they do, and we’re so lucky to have them.”   

Despite the IPO, Nubank faces a number of obstacles. Inflation in the U.S. is at the highest rate in over 30 years, which could make investors wary as it can affect corporate profits. There’s also concerns about how the new Omicron variant will impact the markets, and about the significant losses and troubles of other Brazilian fintech companies. But Junqueira says she’s unfazed by the challenges ahead. 

“Frankly, since we’ve started the company years ago, all we’ve seen is horrible market environments,” said Junqueira. “We’ve seen the worst recession in Brazil’s history, the crashes in GDP growth. Our business model is about people that have been underserved and unsatisfied…so we just try to focus on the things we can control. The market’s going to be whatever it’s going to be, and frankly, we’ve seen worse.”

Junqueira remains confident that Nubank will continue to grow, thanks to the strength of its customer base of over 48 million users and the company’s dedication to its mission.

“To the degree that we continue to solve customers’ problems and they see value in that, and they continue to refer their friends and family to us, that’s our plan for growth,” Junqueira said. “That’s the strategy that we’ve always used, and we believe that customers are going to continue to want to be better served.”

Although Nubank has talked about plans to grow in Latin American markets outside of Brazil (it is also currently active in Mexico and Colombia), Junqueira says that Nubank’s current plan is to “stay focused and execute well.”

“Before we take on more. I like to say that we’re in the business of doing fewer things but doing them really well,” she said.

In addition to running the world’s largest independent digital bank , Junqueira is also expecting her third child. Junqueira has spoken before about her pride in being both a full-time mother and businesswoman, and hopes her success can inspire her daughters. 

“I hope that I can be a good example for them, to say that women can raise our families and care for them, but we can also have great careers and be passionate about our work,” she said.

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