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Bancolombia, Colombia’s largest bank launches stablecoin, crypto offering

bancolombia wenia crypto

Earlier this month the Bancolombia group unveiled Wenia, its new cryptocurrency offering. The service could have a wide reach since Colombia is Latin America’s third most populous country after Brazil and Mexico. That said, the bank is targeting 60,000 users in its first year. In addition to offering cryptocurrencies, the bank is launching its own stablecoin, COPW, 1:1 backed by the Colombian Pesos.

One of the more unusual aspects of the launch is that Wenia will not be regulated in Colombia. Despite initially targeting Colombian citizens, it is registered in Bermuda and holds a license from the Bermuda Monetary Authority. Its website emphasizes that it’s independent of Bancolombia, , and describes itself as ‘an idea of Grupo Bancolombia’.

“Our purpose is to help people connect with the crypto side in a more accessible, inclusive and efficient way,” said Pablo Arboleda, CEO of Wenia.

According to Chainalysis, Colombia is Latin America’s fourth most crypto-active country. As expected, Brazil and Mexico rank higher, given their larger populations. In addition, Argentina, with its ongoing currency challenges is also attracting more crypto users than Colombia.

We believe Colombians cannot hold US dollar bank accounts, but the USDC stablecoin is one of the assets that Wenia plans to support alongside Bitcoin, Ether, and Polygon’s Matic. That said, the Colombian pesos exchange rate has been pretty stable over the last several years. 

COPW – a stablecoin, not a tokenized deposit

The COPW stablecoin will be issued on the Polygon blockchain and will be backed by deposits and other assets, including treasuries. In other words, it’s a more conventional stablecoin rather than a tokenized deposit. That’s what you’d expect given that the subsidiary is positioned as being independent.

Wenia partnered with Alphapoint for the crypto trading technology aspect.

Meanwhile, Colombia has been pretty active in the blockchain arena. The central bank is currently trialing Ripple’s technology for high value payments. Plus, the stock exchange Bolsa de Valores de Colombia (bvc) is exploring using blockchain for a digitally native crowdfunding platform , a2censo.

Update: Corrected reference to South America which should read Latin America

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