On Monday, December 4, Brazil’s largest lender, Itau Unibanco (ITUB4.SA), introduced a cryptocurrency trading service for clients on its investment platform, joining other local players in the digital asset exchange market.
Initially, Itau’s latest offering will facilitate the trading of Bitcoin (BTC) and Ethereum (ETH), the two most prominent cryptocurrencies. However, according to Guto Antunes, the Head of Digital Assets, the bank plans to incorporate additional cryptocurrencies in the future, per an interview given to Reuters on December 4.
“It starts with Bitcoin, but our overarching strategic plan is to expand to other crypto assets in the future,” he said, stating that future expansions depend on the judicial regulations in Brazil.
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This step positions Itau to enter the competitive landscape in Brazil, pitting it against local players such as crypto exchange MB, investment bank BTG Pactual’s digital assets unit Mynt, and global giants like Binance.
Similar ventures into the crypto world
The increasing adoption of digital assets and cryptocurrency-related activities extends beyond the Brazilian banking sector. Recently, numerous banks worldwide have joined this trend, with a notable example being HSBC Holdings, which has integrated blockchain technology into its operations.
Additionally, Commerzbank and several other banks are heeding client demand and exploring the cryptocurrency realm in Europe. In July, Societe Generale SA’s blockchain unit secured the first license under France’s new cryptocurrency regulations. Moreover, German cooperative lender DZ Bank AG has recently unveiled plans to launch a platform for the custody of digital assets.
North American financial institutions follow this trend, with JPMorgan Chase & Co (JPM) leveraging one of the most renowned blockchain technologies in modern banking, introducing a new feature enabling companies to execute their transactions instantly.
Exploring new grounds goes beyond mainstream financial institutions, bolstered by the news of Robinhood’s latest expansion initiative, with the company opting to broaden its services to traders in the EU and UK.