Brazil’s Itau Bank Expands Bitcoin and Ethereum Trading Services

The bank’s 60 million customers can now buy BTC and ETH through the firm’s Ion app.

By: Pedro Solimano Loading...

stylized representations of Bitcoin and Ethereum logos alongside a bank building with Brazilian elements

The largest banking institution in Latin America has opened the doors for all of its clients to get exposure to Bitcoin and Ethereum.

Itaú Unibanco, Brazil’s largest bank by assets under management, is now offering BTC and ETH trading to its more than 60 million clients. Users can access both tokens through the company’s Ion app.

In December 2023, Itaú launched the cryptocurrency trading platform for select clients. According to the firm’s Head of Digital Assets, Guto Antunes, the bank decided to expand its operations due to weekly surveys showing high demand for crypto services.

Although the company is only offering the two largest assets by market capitalization, the idea is to add support for other tokens in the future. "It starts with bitcoin, but our overarching strategic plan is to expand to other crypto assets in the future," Antunes said last year.

Institutions in Brazil have been relentlessly pushing the envelope when it comes to crypto services in the country. Alongside Itaú’s crypto trading platform unveiled last year, Brazilian neobank Nubank partnered with Circle to offer USDC access to the company’s 80 million customers.

Latin America is quietly becoming a regional powerhouse in terms of crypto adoption. Recently, a grassroots Argentinean organization called Crecimiento revealed plans to create a Crypto Silicon Valley in Buenos Aires. Across the Andes, Chile has been paving the way for friendlier regulation in terms of fintech companies, with the country approving a new financial technologies law in 2023.

And the region is one that desperately needs more financial inclusion. It is home to more than 650 million people, of which 122 million are unbanked, while citizens of several nations grapple with double and triple-digit inflation.