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South American Startup Ripio Rolls Out Crypto-Fiat Exchange and OTC Desk

Latin America-based cryptocurrency startup Ripio has launched a trading platform, including an over-the-counter desk.

Latin America-based cryptocurrency startup Ripio has launched a trading platform, including an over the counter (OTC) desk, according to a press release shared with Cointelegraph on May 16.

Ripio’s newly launched platform will enable its customers in Brazil, Argentina, and Mexico to trade cryptocurrency to fiat, use digital banking services, and request blockchain-based loans. The product also includes an OTC desk for institutional investors.

Commenting on the product roll out, Ripio’s founder and CEO Sebastian Serrano said that “cryptocurrency, and our new platform in particular, offers brand-new investment horizons for all segments of the population. This is especially important in Latin America, where savings must be protected against the constant devaluation of local currency.”

Founded in 2013, Ripio claims to be the largest digital asset company in Argentina, with its current expansion to other South American countries like Peru, Chile, Uruguay, Paraguay and Colombia.

In late 2017, Ripio raised more than $37 million through its initial coin offering (ICO) in a bid to launch the Ripio Credit Network, a peer-to-peer credit network based on Ethereum smart contracts.

As reported in late March, Argentina’s Deputy Minister of Finance, Felix Martin Soto, claimed that the government should address crypto and blockchain tech as a way to promote Argentina’s financial inclusion and reduce state costs.

Soto stated that he believes that promoting crypto industry in the country will help to reduce its demand for United States dollar, which will eventually contribute to stabilizing the local market and attracting global investment.

In March, Argentina’s president, Mauricio Macri, met with crypto investor and entrepreneur Tim Draper. Draper told the president that the legalization of bitcoin (BTC) would improve the economic situation in the country. According to Draper, crypto and blockchain adoption in the country can disrupt major problems in Argentina’s economy, including the devaluation of the Argentine peso and the associated brain drain.

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Hodler’s Digest, March 25–31: Top Stories, Price Movements, Quotes and FUD of the Week

This week saw the hacks of several large cryptocurrency exchanges, while the SEC pushed back their BTC ETF decision.

Top Stories This Week

Owner of ICO That Never Happened Attempts to Sell Project on eBay for $60,000

The owner of a crypto-related startup dubbed Sponsy, which never launched its initial coin offering (ICO), is attempting to sell the project on eBay for $60,000. The project is described as a blockchain-related identity that is able to launch both an ICO and a security token offering (STO), with the author of the posting claiming that the project was both audited by an investment firm and approved by several investment banks. Sponsy also claims to have a solid social presence, although its Twitter and Facebook page posts have around ten likes on average. The eBay poster noted in an interview that he lost out on the ICO craze by taking time to develop a product, rather than first launching an offering.

Over 130-Year-Old Liquor Company William Grant & Sons to Track Whiskey on Blockchain

Premium scotch whisky brand Ailsa Bay, which is owned by William Grant & Sons (WG&S), a liquor company founded in 1887, is set to launch what it claims to be the world’s first scotch whisky tracked on the blockchain. According to the company, the whisky will be tracked in collaboration with blockchain firm arc-net, which will develop the new products and a system to track manufacturing from distillery to store. The reason behind the blockchain tracking is to prevent whisky counterfeiting in the United Kingdom, as well as allow the firm to gather data on both existing and potential customers by employing location systems for the purchases.

Tim Draper Urges Argentina’s President to Legalize Bitcoin to Improve Economy

When speaking to Argentine president Mauricio Macri, crypto bull and investor Tim Draper said that the legalization of Bitcoin (BTC) in the country could help improve their economic situation. During the meeting, Draper noted that the use of blockchain and crypto could help improve major economic problems, including the devaluation of the Argentine peso (ARS). Draper also reportedly proposed a humorous bet, stating that if the peso would be valued more than Bitcoin, he would double his investment in the country, but if BTC became higher than the peso, Argentina would have to declare the crypto a national currency.

Weiss Crypto Ratings Puts Bitcoin Aside EOS and XRP in Annual Outlook

The newest Weiss Crypto Ratings and given top cryptocurrency Bitcoin an “A,” along with Ripple (XRP) and EOS. In the report, which was based on an analysis of 120 cryptocurrencies, letter grades were assigned based on an evaluation of the possibilities for adoption and technology. XRP received the “A” ranking as it is well-positioned to compete with global interbank system SWIFT, while EOS was noted as making a solid attempt to become the “backbone of the new internet.” Bitcoin’s “A” ranking was due to its Lightning Network upgrade and use as of store of value. However, another ranking based on risk and reward factors failed to give any cryptocurrencies an “A.” The three currencies are followed by Ethereum (A-) and Cardano (B+).

 Crypto Exchange Bithumb Reportedly Hacked of Almost $19 Mln in EOS and XRP

Crypto exchange Bithumb reported this weekend that they have experienced a hack of an unknown amount, and are currently working with various law enforcement on the issue. The exchange notes that withdrawals and deposits have been temporarily paused, and that the loss does not affect users’ funds, but only those of the exchange. Unconfirmed reports state that around 3 million EOS (around $12.5 million) and 20 million Ripple (about $6.2 million) are the funds lost. The company’s post about the hack indicates that it was an insider job, but the details are as of yet unspecified.

Winners and Losers

The crypto market has ended with week with Bitcoin well above $4,100, Ethereum is at $143 and Ripple at about $.31. Total market cap is $144 billion.

Top three altcoin gainers of the week are AICHAIN, BBSCoin and HondaisCoin. Top three altcoin losers of the week are Luna Coin, Crowdvilla Ownership and Coinonat.

Winners and Losers

For more info on crypto prices, make sure to read Cointelegraph’s market analysis.

Most Memorable Quotations

“All of the big tech companies will come and say blockchain, blockchain, blockchain. I say, ‘Show me the use case. You bring me the use case and I’ll try it.’”

Catherine Bessant, Bank of America (BoA) chief technology officer

 

“If Quadriga was licensed under the Bermuda Monetary Authority, what has happened would not have been able to happen, because we have rules regarding the custody of master keys and making sure they’re not held by a particular individual.”

David Burt, Premier of Bermuda

“One of my theses here is that the cypherpunks’ attempts to get into the money business forced them to realize some other things along the way. And [one of those things] is that money is a fundamentally social thing in a much deeper way than, say, two-party encrypted communication You have to start thinking about governance, social contracts, common shared expectations in this community, how do changes get made, how do we decide how changes get made, how do we discuss things. These are all very political things.”

Vitalik Buterin, speaking at the RadicalxChange conference

 

“I do believe that the regulators right now are a little careful about just rubber stamping anything as it relates to crypto. You are going to have to have an offering that the regulators are going to have to get comfortable. And I think it is hard to get comfortable with something that is so new like this.”

Terry Duffy, CEO of United States derivative market CME Group

 

“What we are seeing is a collection of standards being created [that] will inevitably converge over the next three to five years to create a situation where you can move information and value between all these different systems ー not just Bitcoin to Litecoin to Ethereum to Cardano ー but also your regular bank account.”

Charles Hoskinson, a founder of IOHK, the firm that developed cryptocurrency Cardano (ADA)

Prediction of the Week

Sharp Bitcoin Rally in 2019 Unlikely

According to Emmanuel Goh, a former JPMorgan Chase derivatives trader and founder of crypto data firm Skew, Bitcoin is unlikely to recover its former five-digit highs in 2019. Goh has noted that, according to options traders, there is a five percent chance that Bitcoin will reach $10,000 by September of this year. The trader also noted that there is even a $20,000 call option for this June, but the probability of BTC reaching that price is zero, as it was likely a “bullish trade that was made last year when investors were still discussing the short-term possibility of making new highs.”

FUD of the Week

US SEC Delays Decision on Bitcoin ETF Applications From VanEck and Bitwise

The United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has again delayed its decision on a rule change to the Securities Act that would allow the listing of Bitcoin (BTC) exchange-traded funds (ETF). According to the latest notice, the SEC has extended the period to 90 days, after Bitwise’s Feb. 15 application reached the end of its 45-day time period. According to the extension, the SEC must now reach a decision on the rule change by May 16, 2019. The two firms, NYSE ARCA and Bitwise, had announced their recent plans to launch Bitcoin ETFs in January, with the former intending to launch five separate ETFs linked to both bull and bear futures contracts on NYSE Arca. The SEC has also extended its decision on the VanEck/CBOE Bitcoin ETF

Analysts Claim CoinBene Transactions, Recent Activity ‘Consistent’ With Exchange Hack

Elementus, a blockchain infrastructure firm, published details of recent transactions at crypto exchange CoinBene that they consider to be suspicious in the wake of a presumed hack. After $105 million in crypto was moved from the exchange’s hot wallet this week, CoinBene had assured users that it was a period of unforeseen maintenance responsible for the suspicious activity. Elementus has noted that they are not contradicting what CoinBene has claimed, but that their findings are consistent with the modus operandi for how hack are normally carried out, as the amount of crypto transferred is large and was quickly sold.

Android Malware Targets Users of 32 Crypto Apps, Including Coinbase, BitPay

According to research, a new strain of Trojan malware for Android phones is now targeting the global users of cryptocurrency apps including Coinbase, BitPay and Bitcoin Wallet, as well as banks including JPMorgan, Wells Fargo and Bank of America. Cybercrime analytics firm Group-IB noted that this is the first time that the Trojan, dubbed Gustaff, has been reported or analyzed, and that it is described as being designed for mass infections and spread by SMS messages linked to load malicious Android package kit files. The group notes that the malware’s creators have made a system that increases the scale of thefts by triggering autofills of payment fields for legitimate Android apps to maliciously reroute transfers to the hackers.

Best Cointelegraph Features

The Lightning Torch: How the Community United to Teach Jack Dorsey About Feeless, Rapid Off-Chain Transactions

After Twitter’s Jack Dorsey joined the Lightning Network Torch recently, awareness of the second-layer solutions both benefits and drawbacks have become more debated in the crypto ecosystem. Cointelegraph examines how the LN has changed over time, and how Dorsey’s reference to the technology has brought it more into the public eye.

Indian Street Protests for Cryptocurrency

After the Reserve Bank of India’s ban on crypto dealings last year, the crypto community is coming together again, this time in the form of a series of blockchain supporter rallies held across the country. With the fourth rally set for Bangalore, Cointelegraph looks at the possible public impact of this movement.

Meet the 21 Year-Old Entrepreneur Trying to Sell His Failed ICO on Ebay

After an eBay listing for a cryptocurrency- and blockchain-related project was posted with a price tag of $60,000, Cointelegraph reached out to the lister himself to find out what happened with the project that led him to sell it online in this particular format.

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Argentina’s Dep. Finance Minister: Crypto Adoption Could Reduce Demand for US Dollar

Huobi’s CEO met with senior Argentinian finance officials to discuss the role of blockchain and crypto in the country’s economy.

Huobi Group CEO Leon Li met with senior Argentinian finance officials this week to discuss the role of blockchain and crypto in the country’s economy, according to a press release shared with Cointelegraph on March 29.

In a meeting in Beijing, Argentina’s Deputy Minister of Finance, Felix Martin Soto, claimed that the government should address crypto and blockchain tech as a way to promote Argentina’s financial inclusion and reduce state costs.

Soto, who leads Argentina’s international financial relations, explained that half of the country’s population does not have bank accounts and operate cash transactions by converting their savings to United States dollars.

Soto stated that he believes that promoting crypto industry in the country will help to reduce its demand for USD, which will eventually contribute to stabilizing the local market and attracting global investment.

In a delegation meeting that also included Argentina’s Director-General of the Bilateral External Finance Bureau, Javier Matias Mana, the parties also discussed a potential expansion of Chinese exchange Huobi to Argentina. Soto elaborated:

“We would like to learn how to participate in cryptocurrency and blockchain industry from Huobi. […] Through tokenization on Huobi’s platform, for example, Argentina’s plentiful agricultural, mineral and energy resources could be well financed by global investors.”

The finance official concluded that “[w]ith Huobi’s expertise in blockchain and cryptocurrency, Argentina can accelerate its pace to digital assets era.”

The news has followed a recent meeting between Argentina’s president, Mauricio Macri, and crypto investor and entrepreneur Tim Draper.  The notorious crypto bull told the president that the legalization of Bitcoin (BTC) would improve the economic situation in the country. According to Draper, crypto and blockchain adoption in the country can disrupt major problems in Argentina’s economy, including the devaluation of the Argentine peso and the associated brain drain.

Founded in China in 2013, Huobi is a major global crypto exchange, currently ranked 12th largest globally by adjusted daily trading volume. Despite a massive bear market in 2018, the exchange recently reported a 100 percent growth in trading volume in 2018 over 2017.

However, recently, Huobi announced that Huobi’s Australian subsidiary will be operated by a team at Huobi Global’s Singapore headquarters due to poor market conditions and associated recent staff redundancies at Huobi Australia.

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Tim Draper Urges Argentina’s President to Legalize Bitcoin to Improve Economy

American VC investor Tim Draper has met with Argentina’s president Mauricio Macri to discuss the economic prospects of the country.

Crypto bull Tim Draper has given advice to the president of Argentina to legalize Bitcoin (BTC) in order to improve the economic situation in the country, Cointelegraph en Español reports March 22.

The American venture capital investor reportedly met with Argentina’s president Mauricio Macri on March 20 to discuss the economic prospects of the Latin American country.

During the meeting, Draper spoke about the potential of emerging technologies such as blockchain and crypto for improving major problems in Argentina’s economy, including the devaluation of the Argentine peso (ARS), as well as the associated brain drain.

Cointelegraph en Español quotes Draper as saying:

“We were speaking of Bitcoin and the devaluation of the peso, and I proposed a bet: if the peso would be valued more than Bitcoin, I would double my investment that I was making for the country. But if Bitcoin gained a higher rate than the peso, they would have to declare it as a national currency. That would be a perfect decision, as there’s a lack of confidence in this coin.”

Following the meeting, Draper explained his pro-crypto stance in an interview with María Julieta Rumi, noting that he believes Bitcoin and blockchain are even a greater revolution than the internet. Draper stated that it is now a good time to adopt the technology in Argentina, arguing that this will provide complete changes in banking, commerce, and financial systems.

In the interview, Draper also reiterated his bullish stance on Bitcoin, predicting that Bitcoin will be worth $250,000 between 2022 and 2023, and will account for 5 percent of the global share of all the markets. He elaborated that as soon as people are able to easily use bitcoin, just like pesos or dollars, they will choose bitcoin because it is “decentralized and open, frictionless and global.”

In February, Draper argued that in five years, fiat money will be used only by criminals.

Meanwhile, Argentina has recently been friendly to adopting new developments in the blockchain and crypto space. In early March, the government of Argentina agreed to co-invest in blockchain projects that are backed by Binance Labs and Latin American crypto exchange LatamEx. Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao also hinted at the establishment of a new fiat-to-crypto exchange in Argentina.

In February, Argentina settled an export deal in Bitcoin, selling pesticides and fumigation products worth of $7,100 to Paraguay. The purchase was paid for in Bitcoin and then converted into Argentine pesos to settle accounts with the exporter.

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Binance CEO CZ Hints at Creation of Fiat-to-Crypto Exchange in Argentina

The CEO of cryptocurrency exchange Binance has alluded to a new fiat-to-crypto exchange in Argentina on Twitter.

CEO of cryptocurrency exchange Binance, Changpeng Zhao, has hinted at the creation of a new fiat-to-crypto exchange in Argentina in a tweet sent on March 9.

The tweet was in reply to a piece published by crypto news website CoinSpice. The article in question concerned the agreement between the government of Argentina with Binance Labs, the exchange’s investment and social impact arm, to co-invest in blockchain projects that are backed by the exchange.

Zhao’s comment contained in the tweet apparently suggested that Binance has plans to establish a fiat-to-cryptocurrency exchange in Argentina. More precisely, the tweet stated:

“Guess where we will have a new fiat-to-crypto exchange?”

As Cointelegraph reported in January, following reports that Binance planned to launch fiat-to-crypto exchanges in eight more countries — one of which was Argentina — a spokesperson of the exchange declined to confirm six of the alleged locations, only affirming plans for Singapore and Malta.

Also in January, the exchange had added support for credit card crypto purchases through its partnership with payment processor Simplex.

More recently, exchange and social network for investors and traders eToro launched its cryptocurrency trading services in the United States. The exchange, which reportedly has over 10 million users, will start facilitating the trade of 13 unspecified crypto assets and release a cryptocurrency multisignature wallet to customers in 32 U.S. states and territories.

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Binance Labs and Argentina’s Government Partner to Support Blockchain Adoption in the Country

In a blog post a few hours ago, the team at Binance announced that the Government of Argentina will be supporting Binance Labs development efforts in the country. The collaboration is part of the blockchain and crypto revolution in the country.

Binance Labs has held several events and meetups in the country and Argentina is an integral part of their global expansion plans. Buenos Aires is this year’s regional hub for the Binance Labs Incubation program for Latin America. The program will begin its second season this month and has picked Argentina for its role in embracing blockchain and crypto in the region.

Government Grant of Up to $50,000

Argentina’s Ministry of Production and Labor has pledged to support Binance Labs and LatamEx with its Accelerator Program. The latter is offering a grant of up to $50,000 on every project Binance Labs invests in. This pledge is valid for up t0 10 projects per year. With this deal, the Argentinian government becomes a Binance Labs partner in blockchain investments in the country.

Ella Zhang, Head of Binance Labs, explained why Argentina is unique in furthering the adoption of blockchain technology.

Argentina is at the forefront of blockchain adoption and we’ve witnessed how it’s becoming home to some very passionate blockchain communities during our trip there.

Our mission at Binance Labs is to realize the full potential of blockchain technologies. To that end, we are very excited to support blockchain projects, entrepreneurs and developers through our Buenos Aires chapter, to advise and mentor them, to find product-market fit, and provide them with in-time access to global blockchain technology development to solve local problems.

Pablo Orlando, Founder & CEO of LatamEx and Founders Lab, also added that Latin America is at the forefront of blockchain adoption and real use cases of the technology. Argentina has become a hub for the best projects and entrepreneurs in the region. With the Binance Labs incubation program, such projects and talented individuals will have a chance to flourish.

More on Crypto and Blockchain Adoption in Argentina

The country of Argentina has accelerated adoption of crypto and blockchain as a way of working around its economy’s recession. The country has crypto ATMs and many businesses accepting cryptocurrency payments. One example of mainstream crypto adoption is the capability of topping up the country’s state public transport card, SUBE, using Bitcoin.

Recent Performance of BNB 

Further looking at the crypto markets, we find that Binance Coin (BNB) has had an amazing run in the past few days. The token is now valued at $15.37 after a recent peak of $15.56. BNB is now ranked 7th on Coinmarketcap.com ahead of Tether (USDT), Stellar (XLM), and Tron (TRX).

What are your thoughts on Binance Labs and the Argentinian government partnering to support blockchain projects in the country? Please let us know in the comment section below. 

Disclaimer: This article is not meant to give financial advice. Any additional opinion herein is purely the author’s and does not represent the opinion of Ethereum World News or any of its other writers. Please carry out your own research before investing in any of the numerous cryptocurrencies available. Thank you.

The post Binance Labs and Argentina’s Government Partner to Support Blockchain Adoption in the Country appeared first on Ethereum World News.

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Argentina: Government to Co-Invest in Local Blockchain Projects Backed by Binance

The government of Argentina signs a four-year agreement with Binance Labs, committing to invest in local blockchain startups.

The government of Argentina has agreed to co-invest in blockchain projects that are backed by Binance Labs and Latin American crypto exchange LatamEx, a press release shared with Cointelegraph on Wednesday, March 6, reveals.

Binance Labs, the investment and social impact arm of top cryptocurrency exchange Binance, has recently chosen Argentina’s capital, Buenos Aires, as the Latin American hub for the next season of the Binance Labs Incubation Program.

Following the decision, the country’s Ministry of Production and Labour has signed an agreement with Binance, committing to match investments of up to $50,000 in each project. According to the release, the Argentine government will fund up to 10 blockchain projects each year over a four-year term.

Investments will be funneled through Founders Lab, an Argentine blockchain accelerator.

Buenos Aires is one of the six locations of Binance Labs’ investment program, which kicks off on March 25. Other regional chapters are located in San Francisco, Berlin, Lagos, Singapore and Hong Kong.

In other crypto news from Argentina, earlier this month, the country’s official state transport card SUBE (Sistema Único de Boleto Electrónico) — used by over seven million people in 37 locations — started accepting Bitcoin (BTC).

Last month, Argentina also settled an agricultural chemicals export deal worth $7,100 with Paraguay, accepting the payment in BTC.

In January, United States University of California, Berkeley launched a 12-week accelerator program for early stage blockchain startups, partly sponsored by venture capital fund Berkeley X-Lab Fund.

IBM, along with Columbia University, also run two blockchain accelerator programs that aim to help startups in the crypto space. The programs form the Columbia-IBM Center for Blockchain and Data Transparency, a joint innovation center that was established by the tech giant and the Ivy League school in the summer of 2018.

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G20 Country Leaders Call for International Cryptocurrency Taxation

Leaders of G20 member countries have started work on an international cryptocurrency taxation system.

The G20 countries have called for the taxation of cryptocurrency, as well as its regulation to combat money laundering, Japanese news outlet Jiji.com reports Dec. 2.

According to Jiji.com, the final text of a document jointly delivered by G20 leaders calls for “a taxation system for cross-border electronic payment services.”

The article then specifies that under current laws, foreign companies that do “not have a factory or other base in Japan” cannot be taxed by the local government. The publication then cites that the G20 leaders seek to “build a taxation system for cross-border electronic services.”

The member states, which gathered this weekend in Buenos Aires, Argentina, are reportedly at work on the system and “will consider the issue during 2019 when Japan will be the president of the summit.” A final version of regulations, after considering proposals from each member state, is reportedly expected to be in place by 2020.

As Cointelegraph reported in October, the CEO of the company behind the cryptocurrency investment app Circle had called for “normalization at the G20 level” of the crypto industry.

In July, France’s finance minister Bruno Le Maire also called on the G20 to have a public debate about cryptocurrencies at this weekend’s summit.

Le Maire said that leaders will “have a discussion all together on the question of Bitcoin (BTC)” since “there is evidently risk of speculation.” He then concluded that France needs to “examine this with other G20 members” to see how “we can regulate Bitcoin.”

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Ripio Rolls Out Crypto-Powered Loans Across Latin America

Here’s something you don’t see every day: an ICO that has actually led to a shipped, working financial product.

Revealed exclusively to CoinDesk, Argentinian startup Ripio is making peer-to-peer microloans available today to all its 200,000 bitcoin wallet users in Argentina, Mexico, and Brazil. The Buenos Aires-based company raised $37 million in an initial coin offering (ICO) last year to build the Ripio Credit Network, which matches individual lenders and borrowers across the globe through ethereum smart contracts.

Today’s full rollout of that marketplace follows a closed beta in which more than 800 loans were facilitated to customers in Argentina. Ripio said it now has 3,000 lenders on the network, many of them located in Asia, issuing loans for up to $730, though so far the average loan size is $146.

Ripio CEO Sebastian Serrano told CoinDesk:

We have people from Asia funding people in South America, which is something you cannot do with another [app].”

Previously known as Bitpagos, Ripio is one of the longest-running startups in the crypto space, with well-established merchant processing, exchange and wallet services. It entered the credit business in 2016, lending its own funds to consumers in Argentina, before pursuing this more ambitious vision for global p2p lending.

While the borrowers receive their loans in fiat, the new network is powered by an ethereum-based token called RCN. Lenders send the funds in RCN, a cut of the tokens goes to third parties involved in the lending process – such as identity verifiers, credit scorers and co-signers of the loans – and Ripio (and, potentially, other wallet providers) converts the RCN to fiat before disbursing the money to the borrower.

Unlike most exchanges and mobile lending services, Ripio’s offerings are available to unbanked crypto users. This is essential for Latin American markets where people have diverse but overwhelmingly complicated histories with the banking industry. For example, according to World Bank statistics from 2017, around 30 percent of adults in Brazil are unbanked, compared to 54 percent in Colombia.

Although the startup doesn’t have data on how many unbanked users are on its platform, a survey of 1,000 Ripio users revealed 19 percent didn’t have a credit card. They often fund their wallets by depositing cash at convenience stores that partner with Ripio.

With the credit network, however, they now have a way to build a track record of repaying debts, which could help them obtain financial services in the future. Further, “the entire lifecycle of the credit and the loan” is contained in the smart contract on the blockchain, Serrano said.

“It gives the user credit history. Even if the marketplace disappears the code will continue to execute,” he said.

To make credit histories recorded in smart contracts widely useful, Ripio has proposed a standardized way to present claims about an identity (e.g. “Joe made all his car loan payments on time”) on ethereum. Serrano explained:

“In order for it to work across products and networks, ethereum needs to get a standard for identity claims so that every project uses one or two claim standards, kind of like we have ERC-20 [for tokens].”

Cross-border markets

Over the next year, Ripio plans to expand services to Chile, Colombia, and Uruguay.

“Every market has these different characteristics, regulations, things you have to comply with,” Serrano told CoinDesk, “Things you have to do to make it easy for users to deposit cash.”

Political instability can create roadblocks, however. For example, Ripio once operated in Venezuela and still maintains staff there, but security concerns and opaque regulations forced the startup to halt operations.

“We hope to extend service there as soon as this madness ends,” Serrano said. “It’s become very, very difficult to maintain operations in Venezuela, legally.”

In order to expand, Ripio is looking for more fiat-centric partnerships like the ones it established in Brazil with Neon Bank and Banrisul. Since users are handing over cash, Ripio needs banks for storage. Plus, expanding such partnerships in each nation could provide crucial liquidity.

Santiago Siri, the Argentinian founder of a blockchain governance project called Democracy Earth, told CoinDesk that Ripio’s partnerships are already making an impact across the continent.

For example, through its partnership with the e-commerce giant Mercado Libre, shoppers and sellers can transfer funds between their e-commerce accounts and Ripio wallets, offering new avenues for people to earn or spend crypto.

“Large populations in countries like Brazil and Mexico are unbanked,” Siri said. “So companies like Mercado Libre have to find ways to do business without credit cards. Ripio has been leading this, allowing people to do payments [indirectly] with bitcoin.”

Serrano said 15 percent of Ripio wallets’ transaction volume, millions of dollars per month, now comes from Mercado Libre. Rosine Kadamani, the founder of the educational Blockchain Academy in Brazil, praised this partnership with the largest e-commerce platform in the region, as well as Ripio’s crypto-powered loans, saying:

“When we’re trying to get people in the crypto space, it’s a good strategy to reach people where they are already comfortable… Why not provide a space for peer-to-peer loans? I see no reason at all for credit to be monopolized by banks.”

Speaking to the demand for such cross-border conduits, Siri added: “Latin America is a very fertile region for the deployment of cryptocurrency infrastructures.”

Sebastian Serrano image courtesy of Ripio

The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.