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How David Vélez Became The Richest Colombian

David Vélez this year became the Colombian with the most money and one of the Latinos with the greatest fortune. This was the path that the owner of Nubank took to reach the top .

David Vélez, Founder and CEO of NuBank

Leaving Colombia never made him forget his roots, much less who he was: "I am Colombian," says Velez, founder of Nubank, a 100% digital bank, the largest in the world in this area. Photo: TW-velez_david

LatinAmerican Post | Christopher Ramírez Hernández

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Leer en español: El camino de David Vélez para ser el colombiano más rico

"David Vélez becomes the richest Colombian in the world, surpassing Luis Carlos Sarmiento", that is the headline with which Forbes magazine announced that a new character was at the top of the list of the richest Colombians. His name is David Vélez, and he is an entrepreneur born in 1981, although at the age of nine he left the country.

However, leaving Colombia never made him forget his roots, much less who he was: "I am Colombian," says Velez, founder of Nubank, a 100% digital bank, the largest in the world in this area. On December 9, Vélez became the richest citizen from his country, after his debut on the New York Stock Exchange.

According to the records of the New York Stock Exchange, the neobank closed its first day at a value of 45 billion dollars. Thus, Vélez reached a net worth of about 10.2 billion dollars, 600 million more than the owner of Grupo Aval, Luis Carlos Sarmiento Ángulo, who currently has a fortune of 9.6 billion dollars.

Of course, in recent months this was a scenario that all insiders knew would happen sooner or later. However, it was not always so. Vélez was not always the businessman he is today, although he always had to his credit talent for business.

As he himself recalls through a letter published on the official Nubank website, business runs through his veins, since his parents were also entrepreneurs, so he was always "brought up in that desire."

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“Entrepreneurship for me has been the way to change the reality of the world. The way to create a positive impact on society, and life that for me had a transcendental purpose, " explained Vélez. 

Now, talent is nothing without education and to create a bank, and especially digital, you must know the way in which processes are developed within the bank and other types of economic and social strategies to be able to draw in people. 

“After working for more than a decade in large banks and investment funds in the United States and Latin America, I began to undertake on my own in the industry that seemed the most impossible to compete, but which, at the same time, was the industry that could have the greatest social impact: banking ”, he indicated.

However, he always knew that traditional banking was not the best option. He noted that the key was to offer people an option that was based on improving the experience, rather than simply offering the same products that everyone else in the world offers.

Thus, the dream that began in 2013, today has resulted in more than 48 million clients, 18 million more than he himself had registered in his letter in September of last year. “Today we are the largest independent digital bank in the world. We are prepared to compete globally in the technological revolution, " he said.

But how did it get to be the largest neobank in the world? Everyone knows that one aspect of dreams is, of course, to wish, and another even more important is to act. Well, this is precisely what Vélez did, along with his team and his co-founder Cristina Junqueira: move through the business world, in search of investors who believed in his idea and, of course, clients who would stay to make it grow.

Even with this, capturing the attention of both audiences was not a difficult task, considering that Nubank is betting on a business model that is based on technology, which automatically turned it into a startup prospect, something that any investor moderately knowledgeable was willing to support.

In this way, in 2021 alone, Vélez and his company managed to collect more than 1,150 million dollars in the middle of “Series G”, a round of investments in which some of the best international investors did not hesitate to inject money.

One of these companies was Berkshire Hathaway, whose majority partner, president, and shareholder is Warren Buffett, one of the most important investors in the world. During its time in Series G, Berkshire Hathaway left a deposit of 500 million dollars with Nubank, which increased its capital and of course the interest of new investors in supporting this venture.

On the customer side, the task was not complicated either, since Vélez knew how to bet on what they needed: a bank that, in addition to being digital, promised much lower interest rates compared to traditional banking, in addition to a range of options that allow you to live your economy in a simple way and without the complications of physical banks.

Thus, Nubank already has its own annual credit card, in addition to a checking account, whose digital transfers have no cost. It also has insurance offers, corporate accounts, among other products; all 100% digital and with rates that do not displease the public in Brazil, Colombia and Mexico, where they already have a presence.