Brazil’s Crypto Rails Get Boost from Itau and Nubank

Nubank partnered with Circle to offer USDC access, and Brazil’s largest bank, Itau, has launched crypto trading.

By: Pedro Solimano Loading...

An image of a brazilian flag waving amid a cryptocurrency tokens.

Two of Brazil’s largest banks have announced efforts for their 195 million users to gain easier access to crypto.

Brazil’s largest bank by assets, Itau Unibanco, on Monday launched a cryptocurrency trading platform, reported Reuters. One day later, Nubank, the South American nation’s fourth largest bank by users, started offering USDC access.

Initially, Itau will only offer Bitcoin and Ethereum trading, said digital asset head Guto Antunes, although it aims to add others later on, depending on how crypto regulation in Brazil evolves.

"It starts with bitcoin, but our overarching strategic plan is to expand to other crypto assets in the future," he said.

Nubank Fires Back

Nubank, one of Latin America’s largest neobanks, announced yesterday a partnership with crypto company Circle, to extend USDC access for its 80 million Brazilian customers.

According to a press release by Nubank, digital dollar access will be available through Nubank Cripto, the firm’s crypto trading platform. The initial rollout is taking place in Brazil before extending to Mexico and Colombia, the two other markets where the neobank operates.

“We continue to see strong demand across Latin America for access to dollars, specifically in Brazil, which has emerged as a driving force for digital currency use and adoption in the region,” said Jeremy Allaire, CEO and Co-Founder, at Circle.

Strong Adoption

Brazil is one of the largest countries in Latin America for cryptocurrency usage. Chainalysis’ recent LatAm report ranked it in second place for total crypto value received between June 2022 and July 2023, surpassing $75 billion.

Crypto penetration has reached 24% of the population, translating to roughly 51 million Brazilians, according to data from HedgeWithCrypto, reported by Statista.

Regulatory Action

This week’s moves highlights the rising popularity of crypto in Brazil, and coincides with action by regulators to rein in tax evasion in the country.

Late November this year was marked by the Brazilian Senate approving a 15% tax on crypto held on foreign exchanges by Brazilian nationals. The bill will apply to individuals that hold more than $1,200 on offshore platforms, and will go into effect Jan. 1.

Earlier this year, in September, Brazil’s central bank governor, Roberto Campos Neto announced tighter cryptocurrency regulation, and additional oversight for brokerage firms.