Concur has begun an official expansion in Brazil, buoyed by hopes that the country’s recovering economy will soon be ripe for business travel. The company already has 160 clients in the country despite not having an official presence there; in the fourth quarter of 2016, Concur’s Brazil business had increased 23 percent year-over-year. December 2016’s business alone increased 50 percent year-over-year.

Concur will operate out of parent company SAP’s offices in Sao Paolo. The bet on Brazil makes sense, given that the country already ranks in the top 10 markets for Concur’s services.

Recent analysis from the Global Business Travel Association found weak recent performance from Brazil’s business travel market, with 2016 spending having dropped 11 percent from 2015 and outbound travel down five percent. Concur’s growth, however, seems to contradict the trend.

“At Concur, we have been able to assist customers during periods of slower economic growth by providing them the ability to manage one of their largest controllable expenses,” said Concur president Mike Eberhard. “Even with slow growth, there’s also already strong demand for Concur in Brazil today where our current customers saw 41 percent year-over-year expense spending increases in Q4 of 2016. In fact, more than 160 multi-national customers currently use Concur in Brazil making it the leading travel and expense provider in the country, even before our local investment.

“And it’s a perfect time to invest locally. Brazil is the leading market for business travel in Latin America and the ninth largest market globally for business travel with $30.5 billion in annual spend. Combining our investment with SAP’s local presence and infrastructure, we have the opportunity to fuel our growth in Brazil and build a foundation to continue our expansion across Latin America.”

Last December Concur announced it would begin a major push in China, as well, where it faces numerous homegrown competitors in the travel and expense technology marketplace.

“Our expansion in China is going very well,” said Eberhard. “Since our launch in December 2016 we have tripled the local Concur team and we are very excited to open our China data center later this year. The SAP partnership in China is also a key driver for our growth. By leveraging SAP’s footprint and infrastructure we’ve been able to quickly expand our local service delivery and support teams. And we’re hearing from customers how Concur’s expansion and our partner ecosystem with local companies like Didi Chuxing and Ctrip are delivering greater value than ever before.”

In a recent interview with Skift, Eberhard said building a global platform is one of the challenges that Concur is working to address.

“One of the biggest challenges is globalization,” said Eberhard. “To travel globally is to travel differently. Understanding that you really can’t solve for one scenario in one market and you need to, basically, invest in building a platform for your application. We’ve had years of investing in developing an API approach within our applications in not just allowing ourselves to build against it but to go out to the market and build against it…. There are more than 45 million users now and so when you have that kind of population, many of which who are using Concur on their mobile, it allows us to recruit the rest of the ecosystem to want to integrate with Concur.”

Photo Credit: Concur will expand in Brazil citing solid growth in its business there. Two travelers sit in a Rio de Janiero airport. Stefan Krasowski / Flickr