Argentina’s Ripio has acquired BitcoinTrade, the second-largest crypto exchange in Brazil, in a bid to increase its footprint across the frothy Latin American crypto market.
Ripio (formerly called BitPagos) ended 2020 on a high, crossing the 1 million user milestone. Earlier last year, the firm began looking in earnest for a good fit in Brazil and decided on BitcoinTrade, said Ripio CEO and co-founder Sebastian Serrano. The financial terms of the deal were not revealed.
“Brazil has always been a very important market for us,” Serrano said in an interview. “BitcoinTrade has a very good reputation in the market, very good processes and compliance. It also has a very meaningful user base – about 300,000 users in Brazil – and very good volumes on the exchange.”
Serrano also pointed to BitcoinTrade’s well-established banking relationships in Brazil, which includes accounts with Santander, Banco Itaú and Banco do Brasil.
Brazil has the largest GDP in Latin America and seems to be a highly desirable virgin territory among South American and Central American crypto exchanges. Last month, Mexico City-based crypto exchange Bitso raised a $62 million funding round, a chunk of which was earmarked for a Brazil push, the company said.
“We have a very good relationship with Bitso,” said Serrano. “Bitso and ourselves are the two really well-funded companies with access to venture capital. There are no companies in that position in Brazil. But really I think the opportunity is about growing the entire Latin America market.”
Since its launch in 2013, Ripio has raised $44 million ($37 million of that thanks to an initial coin offering in 2017, geared towards building a peer-to-peer lending system based on Ethereum).
The firm, which now has over 150 employees in Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, Mexico and Spain, has also raised capital from Draper Ventures, Pantera Capital and Digital Currency Group (which is also the owner of CoinDesk). In terms of previous acquisitions, Ripio bought Unisend, another Latin American bitcoin exchange back in 2015.
BitcoinTrade founder Carlos Andre Montenegro will be stepping down from day-to-day duties of running an exchange to focus on running his family office. His role will be taken by Bernardo Teixeira, BitcoinTrade’s current CFO.
“We’re very excited and confident that Ripio is the best choice to help extend the path we’ve built with BitcoinTrade in Brazil,” Montenegro said in a statement.