Itaú Unibanco, Brazil's largest private bank, plans to launch an asset tokenization platform that transforms traditional finance products into tokens and also offers crypto custody services for its customers, the company announced Thursday.
The new unit, Itaú Digital Assets, will be available for institutional clients first, and a retail version is expected by the end of the year.
At a press conference, the company said that it hasn't ruled out offering cryptocurrency trading services to retail customers in the future, without giving further details.
Vanessa Fernandez, a senior executive with experience in compliance, internal controls and technology at Itaú, will serve as Itaú Digital Assets' head, the company added.
In March, Itaú was among the nine partners chosen by the Central Bank of Brazil to help it develop a digital real, Brazil's central bank digital currency.
The entry of Itaú into the crypto segment comes after other major fintech players in the country have taken the same step.
This week, PicPay, a Brazil-based digital payments app with more than 30 million users, announced it plans to launch a crypto exchange and a Brazilian real-tied stablecoin later this year. In May, Nubank, the largest Brazilian digital bank by market value, added the option for customers to buy and sell bitcoin and ether on its platform.
Itau had $4.5 billion in revenue last year, ahead of its closest competitor, private bank Bradesco, which had $4 billion in revenue.
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