Latin American cryptocurrency exchange Bitso has officially launched its app in Colombia, allowing its residents to load pesos into their wallets using a widely-used online payment system connected to the country’s major banks.
The company announced its expansion into the South American country in February and has been working on a pilot program for cash-in and cash-out operations with Banco de Bogotá.
But now, Bitso’s product is officially available to the wider Colombian public.
Using a popular online payment method called PSE, Bitso users can open the wallet, load Colombian pesos and use the app to purchase assets such as Bitcoin, Ether, ApeCoin, Aave and Solana in addition to U.S. dollar-pegged stablecoins including Dai, Tether and TrueUSD.
Speaking at a launch event on May 17 in Bogotá, Bitso CEO Daniel Vogel explained that the exchange has been interested in the Colombian market for a while due to its potential. Colombia ranked 11th on Chainalysis’ latest global crypto adoption index, and Vogel noted in a press statement that an estimated $70 billion in crypto is traded here each month. Other exchanges with a local presence in Colombia include Buda.com, Binance and Ripio.
And yet Bitso is announcing its Colombia launch just a week after one of the most volatile weeks in the history of crypto, in a market where many are still unfamiliar with digital assets. Not surprisingly, people across Latin America are asking questions.
“Every regulator we’ve met has asked us about Terra and Luna,” Vogel said, noting that customers and media have also asked the company about what the recent market events have meant.
“I think we’re definitely in a crypto winter, it definitely feels that way,” Vogel added, noting that he likes building during such periods because it creates an environment for focusing on the fundamentals and attracting clients for the right reasons.
“Of course, it’s a lot easier to launch when the markets are hot, when there’s a lot of demand and whatnot, but you can build a lot more intentionally when that’s not happening,” said Vogel, who added that he thinks last week will be a “blip” on the radar in the history of crypto.
Although Colombia could be ripe for crypto adoption, its use case is arguably less clear here than in places like Venezuela or Argentina where ongoing, unmanageable inflation makes it hard for consumers to save in local currencies. Prices have been rising here, too, albeit at comparatively lower rates than some neighboring countries.
But Vogel said that one situation piquing Colombians’ interest in crypto at the moment is the country’s upcoming presidential election.
“A lot of people that we’ve met are sort of, a little bit unsure of the political situation, and what that might mean in terms of volatility of the Colombian peso,” Vogel said.
Vogel said that Bitso’s participation in the regulated sandbox will continue until the end of the year and that the company expects further crypto guidance from regulators in the next few months.
Bitso is a Gibraltar-registered company that also operates in Mexico, Brazil and Argentina. It counts more than 4 million users in those countries.
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