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Latin American Crypto Firm Ripio Launches Prepaid Crypto Card in Brazil

Latin American crypto company Ripio has started rolling out a prepaid debit card in Brazil that allows payments to be made in cryptocurrency and earns cashback rewards in bitcoin, Ripio CEO Sebastian Serrano told CoinDesk.

The company hopes to release 250,000 cards, which were developed in partnership with Visa (V), by the end of the year, offering the product to the one million users it has in the South American country, the company said, adding that the digital version of the card is already available.

The card will allow payments using Brazilian reals and the 28 cryptocurrencies Ripio has listed on its platform, the company said. Serrano said Ripio is considering adding rewards in cryptocurrencies other than bitcoin (BTC).

The company also plans to launch the card in Argentina later this year, Serrano said, and is not ruling out rolling it out in other countries where the firm operates, such as Uruguay, Colombia, Mexico and Spain.

Read more: Binance Joins Argentina’s Crypto Prepaid Cards Boom

Ripio’s latest projects and plans

In Brazil, Ripio currently operates under its own brand and that of BitcoinTrade, a crypto exchange it acquired in January 2021, which had 300,000 users at the time of the acquisition. By the end of 2022, BitcoinTrade will be renamed Ripio, Serrano added.

In Brazil, Ripio recently worked on the development of Mercado Coin, a cryptocurrency launched last week by Mercado Libre (MELI), Latin America's largest e-commerce company by market cap. Ripio also provides the custody and trading service of Mercado Coin in Mercado Pago, Mercado Libre's digital wallet.

“This is the first large tokenization project and the first very large company in Latin America to integrate crypto, but we also believe that this is something that is going to become much more widespread and we want to be catalysts for the future,” Serrano said.

Ripio has also built a business-to-business team to provide white-label crypto products for other firms in the region. And in July, Ripio launched a Web3 wallet called Ripio Portal, which allows users to connect to decentralized applications and decentralized finance (DeFi) protocols, as well as collect non-fungible tokens (NFT).

Last September, the company raised $50 million in a Series B funding round led by blockchain investment firm Digital Currency Group (DCG). DCG owns CoinDesk as an independent subsidiary.

Serrano said Ripio has no plans to raise new capital during 2022, said Serrano, who added that the company did not have any layoffs in 2022, but did slow its hiring pace starting in November.

Ripio currently has 3.5 million users across Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Colombia, Mexico and Spain, according to Serrano. The company plans to start operations in Chile before the end of 2022, and to open offices in Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia and Paraguay next year, he added.

Serrano said Ripio is not ruling strategic acquisitions to accelerate its growth in Latin America, although he declined to give additional details.

Brazilian exchange Mercado Bitcoin leads the local market, with 3.8 million users. But this year, Latin American crypto exchange Bitso and fintech players Mercado Libre and Nubank announced they had each surpassed one million crypto users in Brazil.

Read more: Why Brazil Is the Big Latin American Bet for Global Crypto Exchanges