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Brazil's Largest Bank Begins Facilitating Crypto Transactions for All Customers

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By Christian Webster - - 5 Mins Read
A sign with Itaú Unibanco logo in a branch in Brazil
Itaú Unibanco | SERGIO V S RANGEL / Shutterstock.com

Itaú Unibanco, one of the largest banks in Brazil, has now made it possible for all users of its Íon investment platform to conduct cryptocurrency transactions.

The bank's decision allows customers to directly purchase and sell Bitcoin (BTC) and Ethereum (ETH) through the app.

This expansion aims to make cryptocurrency trading more convenient for the bank's wide range of clients.

Itaú Unibanco is a well-established bank in Brazil with a large customer base in Latin America.

The high-profile financial company has approximately 95,000 employees across 19 countries, with a focus on expanding internationally while prioritizing Latin American markets.

Additionally, it serves clients in North America, Central America, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East, offering a wide range of banking products and services to both account holders and non-account holders.

Itaú Unibanco recently expanded its crypto trading services after receiving positive feedback from weekly surveys with a select group of clients, showing a strong interest in crypto-related products.

Guto Antunes, head of Itaú Digital Assets, mentioned in an interview with Brazilian newspaper Valor Econômico that the decision to develop the security infrastructure for clients' crypto wallets internally rather than outsourcing resulted from this feedback.

“We have a participation and partnership with Liqi, but nothing regarding custody. The entire custody solution was designed and implemented within Itaú with our fiduciary duty in mind,” Antunes stated.

Initial Offering and Future Plans

Currently, the expanded offering on the Íon platform includes only Bitcoin and Ethereum. However, Antunes noted that clients are already requesting additional cryptocurrencies.


Itaú Unibanco bank app on an app store, displayed on a smartphone

Customer downloading the Itaú Unibanco bank app | Camilo Concha / Shutterstock.com


While Itaú Unibanco is considering this request to add more tokens, any expansion must undergo a thorough regulatory risk assessment to ensure that it complies with Brazil's regulatory framework.

The report noted that the Íon app has already surpassed 3.5 million downloads across Android and iOS devices. Antunes described this number as “significant for the crypto space and surprising.”

Despite the high acceptance, the offering is initially limited to BTC and ETH, with plans to expand based on customer demand and regulatory approvals.

Regulatory Environment and Future Challenges

Brazil's central bank is in the process of developing a regulatory framework for cryptocurrencies, which will have various distinct components.

Itaú Unibanco is closely monitoring these developments and is looking to engage with the opportunities that the new regulations will bring. Additionally, banks in Brazil are anticipating the central bank to introduce new regulations for stablecoins by the end of the year.

“We are aligned with the BC in the development of regulation. We want to grow in the right way,” Antunes said. 

One of the major challenges Itaú faced during the testing phase was training managers to advise clients on the new asset class.

To address this, the bank has developed an AI chatbot that effectively provides managers and experts with information to answer key customer questions.