Includes special features of this country’s banking system and rules/laws that might impact U.S. business.
Last Published: 9/21/2018
The Brazilian retail banking system can be efficient, but they follow cumbersome bureaucratic procedures to sign up and create an account. Most banks have sophisticated internet sites offering most, if not all, of their products and services. Public, majority state-owned banks dominate the financial sector at the national and state levels. Bank branches are numerous and nearly all cities in the country have at least one major bank branch. The five largest banks have approximately 15,000 branches throughout Brazil. International operations are centralized at the bank’s headquarters, usually in São Paulo or Rio de Janeiro, although major branches in larger cities may handle routine operations involving trade finance. All Brazilian banks have correspondent banks around the world.
U.S. and Foreign Banks in Market
According to the Brazilian Central Bank, of the top 10 banks in Brazil ranked in December 2016 (latest figure available) by net equity, two are state owned banks (Banco do Brasil and Caixa Economica Federal); five are Brazilian (Itaú-Unibanco, Bradesco, Safra, BTG Pactual and Votorantim); two are foreign (Banco Santander from Spain, and Citibank from the U.S.). 
Of the top 50 banks in Brazil, 25 are foreign owned or controlled, ranked by net equity as follows (as of December 2016):

Brazil - Banks - Ranking
Country# of BanksBanks (ranking)
U.S.7Citibank (ranking 9th); JP Morgan (15th); BofA Merrill Lynch (26th); GMAC (32nd); Morgan Stanley (38th); Goldman Sachs (43rd) and John Deere Bank (47th)
Germany3Deutsche Bank, Volkswagen, Mercedes Benz
Netherlands3RaboBank Int’l, ING, CNH Capital
France6BNP Paribas, Societé Générale, RCI, Crédit Agricole, Cetelem, Carrefour
Switzerland1Credit Suisse
Bahrain1ABC Brasil
Japan2Tokyo-Mitsubishi, Sumitomo-Mitsui
* Note that Citibank sold its retail operations in Brazil to Banco Itaú. This operation was approved in August 2017 by the Central Bank and became effective as of May 2018.

Foreign Exchange

The Brazilian currency is the Real (pronounced HEY-ow or RAY-ow), with six banknotes (R$ 2.00, R$ 5.00, R$ 10.00, R$ 20.00, R$ 50.00 and R$ 100.00, and six coins including a R$1.00 coin). Reais (HEY-eyes or RAY-eyes) can be obtained at banks or approved foreign exchange shops. The exchange rate between the US$ and the Real (R$) varies daily, and is currently valued at US$ 1.00 = R$ 3.73. (as of June 18, 2018). Though there is no limit to the amount foreign visitors can bring into the country or from the country, amounts over R$ 10,000.00 require documentation (a Currency Carry-on Electronic Declaration must be filed in such cases).

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