Brazil has officially entered a new digital era as the country’s largest financial services firm bows to customer demand for crypto.
Grupo XP Investimentos is launching an exchange for Bitcoin and Ethereum in the next few months, says CEO Guilherme Benchimol. “I must confess, this is a theme I’d rather didn’t exist, but it does,” he adds. “We felt obligated to start advancing in this market.”
Benchimol states that about three million Brazilians have exposure to Bitcoin, while only 600,000 invest in stocks. The exchange will operate separately from XP’s brokerage businesses and will be dubbed XDEX, to be run by Thiago Maffra and a staff of 40.
XP estimates it will have custody over $245 billion by 2020, four times what it expects to have by year-end. It also has plans to launch a bank. The company has expanded quickly over the last few years by providing online investment platforms to Brazil’s increasing middle class population.
The firm has been researching crypto since at least October of last year when it registered the XP Bitcoin brand. And in November of last year, XP hired Fernando Ulrich, a Brazilian cryptocurrency expert.
In April 2018, Brazil’s Department of Federal Revenue revealed that XP Investimentos had registered XDEX INTERMEDIACAO with capital totalling $7.3 million.
Brazil is Latin America’s largest economy and is becoming increasingly interested in the crypto space as well as blockchain for public services, government administration and education.