Brazilian Bank Itaú Unibanco soon in crypto

As Brazilians turn to cryptocurrency in droves, traditional finance companies are increasingly considering offering their customers services related to the asset. Brazilian bank Itau Unibanco has announced that it will offer cryptocurrency custody services in 2023. As a result, the banking institution has recruited José Augusto Antunes to head its dedicated digital assets arm. Antunes has notably worked for several companies in the cryptocurrency sector including the exchange

A bank to keep Brazilians’ cryptos

For the past few months, Brazil has been at the forefront of cryptocurrency adoption. Every month, the number of private and institutional holders keeps growing and breaking records. This attraction to cryptocurrencies does not leave the country’s banking institutions indifferent.

Itau Unibanco, one of Brazil’s largest banks, has announced that it will offer cryptocurrency custody services in 2023.

As the freezing of customer funds by troubled exchanges multiplies in the crypto ecosystem, the new service offered by Itau Unibanco is beneficial for users, believes an official of this banking institution.

Holding is a fundamental element in this context, as it provides security to investors. We will protect clients’ assets in a reliable environment.

Eric Altafim, Director of Tables and Products at Itaú Unibanco

Itaú Unibanco plans to implement the new cryptocurrency custody service in the second quarter of 2023. Initially open to the bank’s customers, this service could be extended to private as well as institutional third parties. Still, the bank has not yet revealed the assets involved in this custody service.

As a reminder, this is not the first time that Itaú Unibanco is interested in the cryptocurrency sector.

Last July, the banking institution had announced the implementation of a tokenization and trading service for cryptocurrencies. Moreover, Itaú Unibanco is not the first bank in Brazil to offer these services. BTG Pactual, another institution in Brazil has been keeping the cryptos of its customers since last August. This service was launched at the same time as mynt, the crypto exchange of this bank.

New leadership for new ambitions

The announcement of the upcoming launch of the cryptocurrency custody service by Itaú Unibanco was followed by the change in the head of Itaú Digital Assets, the internal department responsible for managing the bank’s activities in the crypto ecosystem.

Previously headed by Vanessa Fernandes, Itaú Digital Assets will now report to José Augusto Antunes. José Augusto Antunes has already made a career in the cryptocurrency sector. Most notably, he was vice president of the exchange in Brazil.

The new head of Itaú Digital Assets also worked for 2TM, a holding company that owns Mercado Bitcoin (MB).

The announcement of Itaú bank Unibanco‘s launch of a cryptocurrency custody service comes at the right time. Indeed, Brazil is one of the countries most affected by the current exchange collapse. According to Coingecko’s figures, Brazil would be the tenth most affected country by the FTX debacle. Itaú Unibanco bank is thus offering the opportunity for Brazilians to continue investing in cryptocurrency without big risks.

It remains to be seen whether this bank is really safe from the bankruptcy that hit the exchanges it claims to be the alternative to. It would be rather wise to secure your crypto wallet than to leave the management of your assets to an exchange or a bank.