Buenos Aires Weather | Fintech Ualá launches cryptocurrency trading in Argentina

Argentinian fintech Uala, which is backed by billionaires like George Soros and Steve Cohen, ventured into crypto for the first time on Friday, allowing customers to buy and sell Bitcoin and Ether with pesos through its app.

The move is another milestone for Ualá, which was valued at US$2.5 billion in its last funding round. The company already provides a multitude of financial services based on a prepaid card managed through a mobile application.

Ualá, which has more than five million users in Argentina, Mexico and Colombia, created its own company called Uanex to handle the new products, founder and CEO Pierpaolo Barbieri said in an interview.

“Argentina is the best market to make this investment, given that it is one of the countries in the region where adoption is growing the fastest,” Barbieri said.

About 4.5 million Ualá customers are in Argentina, he said.

Due to tight capital controls and runaway inflation that could reach 100% annually this year, Argentinians have been early and enthusiastic adopters of cryptocurrency technologies. The South American country is ranked number 13 in the world when it comes to crypto adoption, according to Chainalysis, a company specializing in blockchain analysis.

The company said in October that it plans to invest US$150 million in the region over 18 months and aims to break even in Argentina in 2023. Ualá plans to reach 25 million users over the next next five years.

Purchases and sales of crypto can be made with less than 250 pesos (1.50 USD), and initially the products will be activated for a small number of selected users. The remaining customers will be gradually activated if they register on the Ualá website. Currently, the Ualá application also offers the possibility of investing in mutual funds, dollars and cedars.

Ualá is also backed by Japanese conglomerate SoftBank Group Corp. and Chinese internet giant Tencent Holdings Ltd., as well as early investors including Goldman Sachs Group Inc, Ribbit Capital and Monashees.

“Users asked us to invest in crypto through our app a long time ago,” Andrés Rodríguez Ledermann, Vice President of Wealth Management at Ualá, said in the interview.

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by Ignacio Olivera Doll & Carolina Millan, Bloomberg

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