Brazil’s Banking Behemoth Itau Unibanco Debuts Cryptocurrency Trading Services

Itau Unibanco, the largest private bank in Brazil, has launched cryptocurrency trading services for its customers. Through Ion, its financial services platform, Itau will first offer access to two cryptocurrencies, ether and bitcoin, opening this feature gradually to all users.

Itau Unibanco Opens Crypto Trading Services in Brazil

Itau Unibanco, one of the largest banking institutions in Brazil, has announced it will open the possibility for customers to trade cryptocurrencies using its services. The bank, which has over $400 billion in assets, opened trading services for the two crypto assets with the largest market cap — bitcoin and ether — for some customers using Ion, Itau’s financial trading platform.

The bank will release this feature gradually to all customers, so not all will be able to take advantage of the service in its first stages. Itau’s move comes before the Central Bank of Brazil has provided clarity for regulating these assets after the approval of Brazil’s cryptocurrency law in 2022.

Guto Antunes, head of Itau Digital Assets, explained the reasons for the gradual release of these services to Itau’s customers. He told Valor Economico:

This gradualness depends on regulatory clarity. We didn’t go into detail about the selection processes for the first customers who will have access to the new product because it is a strategic issue.

Antunes also clarified that choosing bitcoin and ether as the first crypto assets in the platform derived from a study that determined that most customers were inclined to invest in these.

The bank will custody the crypto assets, and at first, customers will not be able to deposit external crypto assets into the platform or withdraw acquired tokens to external wallets.

Antunes explained:

The most important thing is that just like when you leave your money in the bank account, you will have the guarantee of Itau’s balance sheet as security for the amounts invested.

More tokens could be added to the platform later, as Antunes believes this generation grew up using “banking in a tokenized way.” The bank had hinted at opening crypto trading in 2022 and already has tokenization and custody offerings as part of its portfolio services.

What do you think about Itau’s crypto trading offerings? Tell us in the comments section below.

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