Nubank names Rio pop star Anitta to board, sparking controversy

FILE PHOTO: Anitta performs in Times Square on New Years Eve in New York City, U.S., December 31, 2020. Gary Hershorn/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo

SAO PAULO (Reuters) -Brazilian pop star Anitta joined the board of Latin American financial start-up Nubank to help market its credit cards, loans and checking accounts, but the choice of a critic of President Jair Bolsonaro angered his supporters.

Born in a Rio de Janeiro slum, Anitta has become one of Brazil's most prominent singers. The 29-year-old has five nominations for Latin Grammy awards and 54 million followers on Instagram.

Nubank said in a statement on Monday that Anitta, whose latest single is called "Girl From Rio" in a nod to the 1960s hit "The Girl From Ipanema," will advise the bank on enhancing its services and products.

In a statement, Anitta said she saw the role as a chance to promote financial inclusion in Latin America, where many low-income people still lack bank accounts.

"Not being able to have financial products is very demotivating and shameful. A lot of people in Latin America have always lived off informal employment. How are those people going to have a credit history?," she said.

But the announcement also sparked controversy on social media among supporters of Bolsonaro, whom Anitta has criticized. Some threatened to close their accounts.

Others praised the move, saying they would start banking with Nubank .

The bank's CEO and founder David Velez said Anitta would bring a deep knowledge of marketing to consumers in Latin America.

With 40 million clients in Brazil, Mexico and Colombia, Nubank has begun talks to hire banks for a U.S. listing, Reuters reported earlier on Monday. It was valued at $30 billion in a recent funding round led by Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway.

(Reporting by Carolina Mandl;Editing by Alexander Smith and Cynthia Osterman)

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