The uncertainty of crypto, and the banks of the future

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Matthew Taylor
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An image of Sandra Ro, CEO of Global Blockchain Business Council. Sandra is holding a microphone in one hand and appears to be speaking. The Web Summit Rio logo appears in several places on a wall behind Sandra.

In 2023, the future of cryptocurrency is extremely uncertain. What options remain open for expansion and consolidation in decentralized currency? Here’s what our speakers had to say.

With our first thrilling South American tech event over, it’s time to look forward to Web Summit Rio 2024, taking place in the Riocentro convention center from April 15-18. Will you be there?

Web Summit Rio 2023 had sessions uniting tech experts, cultural icons and global policymakers, as well as interactive Q&As, masterclasses, and speaker experiences.

Here are some insights from world-renowned experts on making tech better, including Kathleen Breitman, Sandra Ro and David Vélez.

If you want to learn more about the event, you can stay up to date by subscribing to our newsletter. You can also follow Web Summit Rio on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn.

Crypto isn’t dead yet

Is the crypto winter ever going to end? It depends on who you ask. While Tezos co-founder Kathleen Breitman talked about a humbled industry that “desperately needed” a wakeup call after a series of scandals, Bitso co-founder and CEO Daniel Vogel pointed to significant growth in emerging markets.

“There were two big scandals that plagued the industry over the last year – one was Terra Luna, which was basically a Ponzi scheme … That phenomenon was exacerbated by FTX collapsing,” said Kathleen, who noted that stories such as these have put many people off the entire industry.

And yet, due to comparatively fast and cheap transaction fees, crypto has gained ground for US users to transfer money to their families in Mexico.

“In 2021, we did about US$1 billion in cross-border transactions from the US to Mexico. And in 2022, we did US$3.3 billion in transactions. More than five percent of the remittances that go from the US to Mexico now go through crypto,” said Daniel.

Crypto’s new home: Brazil?

“Crypto usually thrives in jurisdictions where there are problems that need to be solved,” said Transfero CEO Thiago Cesar. “South America has that.”

Brazil specifically seems primed to be the new home for crypto speculation and development. With new regulations cycling through the Brazilian legislative system, one of the most volatile trading environments in history might soon be appearing in Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo and more places throughout the country.

“What’s happening in Brazil is very unique,” said Global Blockchain Business Council CEO Sandra Ro.

Sandra highlighted the ongoing creation of regulations, which is beneficial because actual regulators have been working on different parts of the crypto ecosystem for years. “That is very powerful,” added Sandra.

But does that mean the next crypto disaster will simply have a Brazilian soundtrack? Apparently not.

“Brazil – risk management-wise – is one of the strongest financial systems on the planet,” said Marcelo Sampaio, co-founder and CEO at Hashdex. “The way we’re structured, it is very unlikely something like FTX would have happened [had it been in Brazil].”

Nubank’s success? Consumer obsession

Nubank founder and CEO David Vélez has built Latin America’s largest neobank and fintech bank
in Brazil, despite initial warnings about competition with Brazil’s big financial institutions. Now it’s
those very same financial institutions that must compete with Nubank.

“Banking – or finance – is fundamentally a digital good,” said David. “The future of banking is certainly completely digital. There’s no point in having banking branches on every corner.”

David explained that, when Nubank started out, just five banks controlled 85 percent of the financial services sector in Brazil. This figure has shrunk to 70 percent in just a decade.

So what is the secret to Nubank’s success? “We wanted to create a company that was obsessed with the consumer, and obsessed with building a phenomenal product,” said David.

Web Summit Rio returns to the Riocentro convention center from April 15-18. Pre-register for tickets now.

Main image of Sandra Ro, CEO of Global Blockchain Business Council, on the Crypto stage during Day 2 of Web Summit Rio 2023 at Riocentro in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: Eóin Noonan/Web Summit (CC BY 2.0)

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