December 7, 2023
By Anjali Kochhar
In a significant move signalling the growing acceptance of cryptocurrencies in traditional banking, Brazil’s largest bank, Itaú Unibanco, has reportedly unveiled a cryptocurrency trading service for its clients, as reported by Reuters. The initial phase of this offering includes the trading of leading cryptocurrencies Bitcoin (BTC) and Ethereum (ETH), with plans to broaden the selection in the future, according to Guto Antunes, Itaú’s head of digital assets.
As part of this new venture, Itaú Bank assumes the role of custodian, ensuring the secure storage of clients’ cryptocurrency assets. However, during the initial rollout, clients will be restricted from depositing or withdrawing cryptocurrencies using external wallets. Despite this limitation, Antunes emphasised the security provided by Itau’s balance sheet when keeping funds in the bank account.
“The most important thing is that when you keep your money in the bank account, you will have the guarantee of Itau’s balance sheet as security for the amounts invested,” stated Antunes.
This development aligns with a broader trend in Brazil’s banking sector, as major institutions, including Itaú Unibanco, BTG Pactual, and Santander Brasil, gear up for the nationwide launch of the digital Brazilian real, known as the Drex. These banks are actively expanding their workforce and allocating resources to meet the anticipated demand for digital currency services.
Itaú had previously entered the digital asset custody space earlier in the year, and Antunes revealed that approximately 85% of their clients expressed interest in entrusting their cryptocurrencies to the bank. This growing interest underscores a shift in investor sentiment, with traditional financial institutions becoming more integrated into the cryptocurrency landscape.
As Itaú Unibanco takes bold strides into the crypto market, industry observers are closely monitoring the impact of this move on the broader financial sector. The bank’s strategic approach to cryptocurrency services, backed by its established reputation, could potentially set a precedent for other financial institutions globally.
In conclusion, Itaú Unibanco’s foray into cryptocurrency trading represents a pivotal moment in the convergence of traditional banking and digital assets, reflecting the evolving landscape of finance in Brazil and beyond.
About the author
Anjali Kochhar covers cryptocurrency stories in India as well as globally. Having been in the field of media and journalism for over three years now, she has developed a sharp news sense and works hard to present information that goes beyond the obvious. She is an avid reader and loves writing on a wide range of subjects.