Značka: Latin America

El Salvador buys its cheapest 410 Bitcoin as prices reach $36k

The Central American country of El Salvador has added 410 Bitcoin (BTC) to its central reserve as BTC prices trade below $37,000, a price last seen on July 26th, 2021. The fresh addition to El Salvador’s BTC reserve was announced by President Nayib Bukele, who confirmed that the purchase of 410 BTC was made against $15 million, placing the price at approximately $36,585 per BTC.Nope, I was wrong, didn’t miss it.El Salvador just bought 410 #bitcoin for only 15 million dollars Some guys are selling really cheap ‍♂️ https://t.co/vEUEzp5UdU— Nayib Bukele (@nayibbukele) January 21, 2022El Salvador adopted BTC as a legal tender on Sept. 7, 2021, as a means to overcome catastrophic inflation amid the weakening spending power of the nation. Fast forward to today, the country has strategically accumulated 1,801 BTC over the past four months, especially when the market sees a momentary price fall.The latest purchase is currently the cheapest acquisition for El Salvador ever since the country adopted BTC as a legal tender.With BTC trading just above the $36,000 mark and the resultant sell-off, Bukele believes that “some guys are selling really cheap,” supporting his long-term vision of mainstream Bitcoin adoption.Bitcoin price movement. Source: TradingView.As evidenced above by data from Cointelegraph Markets Pro and TradingView, BTC experienced a steady rise in prices from mid-July, which resulted in an all-time high of almost $69k in the first week of November. However, the next three months saw a steep decline in market prices as investors redirected BTC profits into buying other tokens.Related: Nations to adopt Bitcoin, crypto users to reach 1B by 2023: ReportA new report from Crypto.com predicts that the global crypto market will host one billion users by the end of 2022 as more developing nations mimic El Salvador’s move to mainstream BTC adoption.Monthly growth of crypto owners. Source: Crypto.com.As Cointelegraph reported, Crypto.com estimates that “If we extrapolate a similar rate of increase in 2022, we are on track to reach 1 billion crypto users by the end of 2022.” The report concludes that a combination of developing nations following El Salvador and a “friendlier stance” towards the crypto industry means that “nations can no longer afford to ignore the growing push towards crypto by the public.”

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2021: A year of mass adoption for cryptocurrencies in Brazil

Throughout 2021, the Brazilian cryptocurrency market managed to distance itself from the police pages and finally win acceptance with the general public, whether in the financial market or even in the greatest national passion: soccer.Last year, Bitcoin (BTC) acted as a strong alternative to the Brazilian real that ended 2021 by breaking negative records and reaching a devaluation of 6.5% by December, making it the 38th worst currency in the world.In a year of ups and downs for Bitcoin, the biggest cryptocurrency hit a bottom of 167,000 real in January and soared along with global markets to 355,000 real in May. Faced with Bitcoin’s dip, the BRL/BTC pair was stuck below 200,000 reals until August, when it began to rise to a new historic high of 367,000 real on Nov. 8.Faced with the need for economic protection, Brazilians turned to crypto. 10 million Brazilians now participate in the crypto market, according to CoinMarketCap.In traditional financial markets, the Brazilian Stock Exchange debuted exchange-traded funds (ETFs) linked to Bitcoin and Ether (ETH). There are already five ETFs listed on B3, some of them positioned among the most profitable in the entire Brazilian stock market in 2021.The Central Bank of Brazil also announced new developments in the digital real, a central bank digital currency (CBDC), which could be launched as early as 2023. The Brazilian Central Bank also announced that it will continue working to incorporate blockchain technology into its services by carrying out a series of tests through a dedicated team at the monetary authority.In the Federal Congress, discussions on the regulation of cryptocurrencies in Brazil dragged on throughout the year, until in December, federal deputies approved Bill 2303/15, which establishes criteria for the regulation of cryptocurrencies in the country. The bill will be further discussed in 2022 in the House’s plenary session and later in the Federal Senate.There was tension among major players in the cryptocurrency market in Brazil in 2021, but also some good news. Brazilian exchanges went head-to-head with major crypto exchange Binance. Exchanges around the country worked with the Brazilian Cryptoeconomy Association to comply Binance to follow rules established by the Brazilian Securities and Exchange Commission, Federal Revenue Service and the central bank. The global exchange is still negotiating with Brazilian market regulators and the country’s financial authorities.Related: ‘Mecca of mining’: Brazil considers zero tax on green Bitcoin miningOn the other hand, Brazil’s largest exchange, Mercado Bitcoin (MB) — today one of Latin America’s crypto unicorns — expanded its operations in the country, entering the sporting world once and for all. MB also worked alongside Chiliz to make fan tokens more accessible to Brazilian fans, a novelty that was adopted by national football giants such as Corinthians, São Paulo, Internacional, Atlético-MG and Flamengo.The nonfungible token (NFT) market also reached Brazil with wide adoption and presence of Brazilian players in play-to-earn games, collectible platforms and even in the arts, being adopted by visual artists and renowned names in Brazilian music such as André Abujamra and Zeca Baleiro.For the next year, we can expect even more major Brazilian and Latin American firms to enter the cryptocurrency market. The Brazilian Stock Exchange hopes to expand its offering of cryptocurrency-linked investments, with experts targeting decentralized finance (DeFi), NFTs and the Metaverse.It’s also worth remembering that 2022 is an election year in a country that has been polarized since 2016, with the Bolsonaro government suffering from low popularity and being defined by social tension. The elections could affect not only the direction of the digital real but also the future of the Brazilian economy, including cryptocurrency markets.

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Mercado Bitcoin operator acquires Portuguese crypto exchange

Brazilian 2TM Group, the operator of Latin America’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, Mercado Bitcoin, is moving to expand its global footprint with a strategic acquisition in Portugal.The company officially announced Wednesday the acquisition of a controlling stake in CriptoLoja, a Lisbon-based crypto exchange licensed by the Portuguese central bank.Subject to approval by Banco de Portugal, the new deal intends to help 2TM start its expansion into Europe with over-the-counter exchange services. The company also plans to offer the services of Mercado Bitcoin to retail and institutional investors in Portugal.“We will access the European market using the clear synergies with our presence in Latin America, as we share the same language, a recognized brand, and cross-sell opportunities for customers. There are many Brazilians living in Portugal who would love to invest through our platform,” 2TM CEO Roberto Dagnoni said.Dagnoni said that the new acquisition became possible after several major funding rounds in 2021, in which 2TM raised over $250 million from investors like the Japanese financial giant SoftBank, bringing its valuation to more than $2 billion by November.“Crypto is a global business. Portugal is a strategic market for us because it requires a specific license, is becoming an important hub for crypto in Europe and opens a gateway into the larger European market,” Dagnoni noted.Related: Tribal Credit raises $40M in ‘hybrid’ debt round funded by dollars and stablecoinsAccording to the announcement, CriptoLoja founders, Luis Gomes and Pedro Borges, will remain co-heads of the business while assisting 2TM’s expansion in Europe. “Cryptocurrencies are still an emerging topic in the country. All the virtual assets such as Bitcoin and Ether are generating a revolution and considerable demand,” Borges stated.Portugal has been hailed as a crypto-friendly jurisdiction as its authorities have pushed for technological free zones for fintech development and innovation in the country. Last year, the central bank of Portugal licensed three crypto exchange businesses: CriptoLoja, Luso Digital Assets and Mind The Coin.

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Tribal Credit raises $40M in 'hybrid' debt round funded by dollars and stablecoins

Crypto-focused enterprise payment platform Tribal Credit has concluded a $40 million debt offering that was funded through fiat and stablecoins — giving the company additional capital to expand its business services in Latin America. The so-called hybrid debt round was financed by Partners for Growth, a California-based investment firm, and Stellar Development Foundation (SDF), which is a non-profit organization supporting the growth of the Stellar blockchain. Tribal said it will use the capital to fund receivables from its customer base throughout Latin America, particularly Mexico, Brazil, Chile, Colombia and Peru. Tribal COO Duane Good explained to Cointelegraph that funding receivables from its customer base means that “Tribal can use the debt facility to help customers” in the aforementioned countries. In other words, “this new debt facility will be used to support our customer’s spending on the Tribal platform.” When asked about the mechanics of the hybrid debt raise, Good explained that “a portion of the debt facility was established with SDF and funded through USDC.” A traditional debt facility, by contrast, “is an agreement with insittutiional lenders that enables a financial services firm to draw on the facility to support the underlying credit needs of their portfiolio.”Launched in 2016, Tribal Credit provides credit cards and other forms of funding to startups in emerging markets. The company also employs a cross-border payment system supported by cryptocurrency exchange Bitso that allows businesses to convert local currency to Stellar’s USDC stablecoin. Integration with Stellar blockchain began in April 2021 after Tribal received $3 million from the Stellar Development Foundation. Related: Crypto payments solutions firm Ramp raises $53 million to increase adoption of DApps”Mexico could be another example of a country adopting cryptocurrencies for remittances, as estimates have shown they could reduce costs by 50% to 90%.” – @ashady, CEO of Tribal. For more information, visit: https://t.co/g0oa3GvzZ4#TribalCredit— Tribal Credit (@TribalCredit) October 22, 2021Tribal and others have identified small businesses as a major source of growth for crypto payments and remittances, especially in emerging markets where access to traditional financial services is often limited. Data from the World Bank shows that small- and medium-sized enterprises in emerging markets create roughly seven out of 10 jobs, making their access to financing more important.

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Volatility, hyperinflation and uncertainty: How everyday Venezuelans are using stablecoins to protect their livelihoods

Last month, Cointelegraph interviewed Reserve CEO Nevin Freeman and the payment decentralized application’s community manager Yens Michiels about the company’s mission to provide access to stable currencies. More recently, Cointelegraph spoke to a couple of users based out of Venezuela and Colombia who shared their positive experiences with Reserve. Reserve is a tool to exchange fiat currency like Venezuelan bolivares for U.S. dollars via the Reserve (RSV) stablecoin. From everyday purchases to family remittances, Reserve has said that its use cases are increasingly growing in Latin America. After one year on the market in Venezuela, Colombia, Panama and Argentina, there are over 100,000 weekly app visitors and more than 8,000 merchants accepting it as a means of payment. Sasha Antunez and Alicia Stephany are two Reserve customers who offered their perspective on the app’s role in their daily lives and on the economic situation in Venezuela. Antunez is a neurologist living in Maracay, Venezuela and a self-proclaimed “Reserve Ranger” who uses Reserve both at home and at work. Stephany is a Venezuelan living in Bogota, Colombia who uses Reserve to support her family members that still live in Venezuela. Antunez explained how she uses Reserve for daily expenses:“I have my Reserve dollars saved in the app. Suppose I have to go to the supermarket and I have around $20. I do the exchange so that I have bolivares in my bank account and can pay for everything at the supermarket. But I also know that I can take my bolivares, turn them into Reserve dollars, and then into USDT.” Most customers use it to save their money. If they get paid in their local currency, they do not have to worry about its devaluation if it is in U.S. dollars. And if they need to buy something in a local currency, as Antunez described, they can always convert it back or pay directly with the RSV stablecoin if the merchant accepts it. Most don’t even realize that it has to do with cryptocurrency, like Stephany.“The Venezuelan bolivar loses value so fast that if you have bolivares, you need to change it as soon as you can to protect them,” she explained, adding the example that if she’s in Colombia and her father is in Venezuela, but “I needed to pay for his things, then instead of only exchanging what I needed at the supermarket, I was always looking for someone to buy extra dollars from me. So, I convinced the people from the supermarket and the pharmacy I use to download Reserve.”Related: Venezuelan international airport to accept Bitcoin payments: ReportThe government introduced a re-denomination of the currency in October, the third one since 2008, in order to ease computations. The economy, however, had already been increasingly unofficially dollarized. This means that prices in stores are marked in dollars, corresponding to the black market rate rather than the official exchange rate, as more and more merchants use PayPal, Zelle or, now, Reserve. With Reserve, users can exchange currencies at rates closer to those of the central bank.Couple this volatility with hyperinflation, and mistrust in the government and the banking system is bound to surge among citizens. When asked about the prospects of the economy getting better in Venezuela, Antunez said:“I believe that technology will play a big part because cryptocurrencies allow financial freedom and free access for everyone. That’s how we need to address this situation, by giving people the tools to protect their money. Here, we don’t have any solutions, at least not right now. And I don’t see things getting any better. In the meantime, we’re just trying to protect the little money we earn from our jobs.”At the time of publication, the project’s iPhone app was the No. 1 most downloaded app in the Venezuelan app store under the finance category. Binance and MetaMask, two other cryptocurrency trading apps, are among the top 10 as well.

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Tribal Credit taps Bitso and Stellar to enable cross-border B2B payments

Enterprise payment platform Tribal Credit has partnered with Latin American crypto exchange Bitso and the Stellar Development Foundation to create a new cross-border payment service for businesses, opening the door to broader use cases for blockchain technology in the region.The new service, which is geared towards small- and medium-sized enterprises, enables companies in Mexico to pay for goods and services in their native peso currency and have their counterparts in the United States receive the payments in dollars. The service will rely on the Stellar blockchain, a decentralized open-source payment network specializing in cross-currency transactions. Tribal Credit’s cross-border payment system will be facilitated by Bitso, a multi-billion-dollar crypto exchange that will enable merchants to convert pesos to Stellar’s USDC stablecoin. Bitso was a key partner in the rollout of El Salvador’s state-issued Bitcoin (BTC) wallet Chivo. El Salvador’s Bitcoin journey is forging on. The central bank of El Salvador has published draft regulations on how banks should handle BTC. https://t.co/GFiN0m0cEX— Cointelegraph (@Cointelegraph) August 19, 2021The Stellar Development Foundation, or SDF, is a non-profit organization supporting the growth and adoption of the Stellar blockchain. Stellar’s native XLM cryptocurrency has been a mainstay in the digital asset market over the past four years and currently ranks 26th by total market capitalization. (Interestingly, two members of SDF were inducted into the Cointelegraph Top 100 for 2021.)ICYMI: SDF had not just one but TWO of our leaders on @cointelegraph’s top 100 people in blockchain in 2021: @denelledixon and @jedmccaleb. Check them out at #31 and #58!https://t.co/sVTuKZ6SP7— Stellar (@StellarOrg) February 13, 2021

When asked about why Tribal Credit selected Stellar for its cross-border payment service, chief research scientist Ehab Zaghloul told Cointelegraph that the protocol aligns with Tribal’s mission to “promote financial inclusion and democratize access to financial services.” Stellar is also “fast and charges nearly nothing for transactions, making it far more affordable and efficient than its competitors,” he said in a written statement. Fast and efficient cross-border payments are one of the most promising use cases of blockchain technology in an age where traditional wire transfers remain cumbersome, expensive and slow. As Cointelegraph reported, credit card giant Visa acquired cross-border payment fintech Currencycloud in July for an undisclosed amount. The acquisition is intended to help Visa improve its foreign exchange business.Related: B2B firms want cross-border payments but skeptical of crypto: SurveyTribal Credit has identified Latin America as one of the world’s fastest-growing markets for cross-border transactions involving businesses. Led by Mexico, the region represents a $175 billion market opportunity that could be ripe for disruption by companies willing to experiment with blockchain technology. “Economic conditions in Latin America certainly do make the region receptive to crypto payment services,” Tribal Credit’s chief strategy officer Mohamed Elkasstawi told Cointelegraph in a written statement. “Crypto and stablecoins serve as a hedge against inflation and currency devaluation not just in Latin America, but in many other countries as well.” Elkasstawi also credited widespread adoption of smartphones for crypto’s growing mainstream appeal in the region:”It’s also worth considering that everyone with a smartphone can transact in crypto, so in a region where not everyone lives a reasonable distance from traditional financial institutions, cryptocurrencies provide a useful supplementary financial service for many individuals across Latin America.” 

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Gemini partners with Colombia's biggest bank for crypto trading

New York-based crypto exchange Gemini has announced that it will be expanding into Latin America through an upcoming partnership with Colombia’s largest bank, Bancolombia. The partnership will take effect Dec. 14, and will permit customers from Bancolombia to trade 4 crypto assets: Bitcoin (BTC), Ether (ETH), Litecoin (LTC), and Bitcoin Cash (BCH).A limited number of users will be able to buy crypto directly from their Bancolombia bank accounts through the Gemini exchange, which will provide crypto-specific infrastructure for exchange and custody of assets. It remains unclear whether the users will be able to withdraw the crypto holdings directly from their accounts. In a Dec. 6 announcement about the partnership, Gemini stated that it “serves as an important step toward the strategic expansion of Gemini’s presence in Latin America.”“We believe that crypto can play an important role in the development of Latin America as interest in blockchain and innovative technologies proliferates throughout the region.”The partnership will run as part of a year-long pilot program run by Colombia’s financial regulator, the Superintendencia Financiera de Colombia (SFC). The regulatory sandbox, “la Arenera” was approved by the Ministry of Finance and Public Credit in September 2020.In January, the SFC announced that it had chosen 9 out of fourteen crypto exchanges that applied for the project including Gemini, Binance, and the Mexican exchange Bitso.Since El Salvador adopted BTC as a legal tender on Sept. 7, Latin America has moved in strides towards mainstream crypto adoption. In Oct., CEO of multicurrency investment platform Uphold JP Thieriot told Cointelegraph that Latin America stands to “benefit the most from crypto.” Gemini currently operates in over 60 countries, including Argentina, Brazil, Chile, El Salvador, Panama, Peru, and Uruguay in Latin America. Related: Blockchain.com acquires SeSocio to cement presence in Latin AmericaBancolombia operates in Colombia, Panama, Guatemala, and El Salvador. According to an internal report from last year, it has 17.8 million users. In March, Colombia’s oldest bank Banco de Bogotá also announced that it would also be piloting crypto services as part of la Arenera. A year prior in March 2020, Cointelegraph reported that Latin America is the region with the third-largest number of crypto users in the world.

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