Capital markets News

Brazil’s Itau bank tokenizes its first digital asset


Latin America’s largest bank Itaú tokenized its first digital asset on July 4, according to local newspaper E-Investidor. It was the tokenization of trade finance receivables with a term of 35 days. The bank plans to tokenize other types of real world assets as security tokens and also unveiled a digital asset custody solution.

Apart from these offerings, the Brazilian bank is involved in one of nine central bank digital currency (CBDC) experiments. It partnered with the Brazilian stock exchange B3 and enterprise blockchain company R3 to develop payment versus payment (PvP) for international transfers.

In December 2021, Vanessa Fernandes moved from CTO of Emerging Tech at Itaú Unibanco to become the Digital Assets CEO at the commercial and investment bank Itaú BBA.

Talking at a Chainalysis event in May, she spoke about the bank’s cryptocurrency plans. It invested in both a tokenization platform and a crypto exchange. It’s unclear whether this is the crypto exchange Digitra in which a key Itau shareholder recently invested.

Fernandes explained that the bank’s first offering was through ETFs, then it moved into proprietary trading. And it is exploring offering retail customers exposure through an exchange. As a result, it’s having discussions with various exchanges.

“It was the IMF that said you have to control the flow of dollars leaving the country. Now you have crypto, so how can you control that?” said Fernandes.

“If a huge bank goes to the public and says we’re doing something, maybe we can affect the whole market. In a good and bad way. So that’s why we are very concerned and cautious about how we can do it right.”

She also observed that she doesn’t see bigger banks taking the step. “So I think it’s good for us to go first.”

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