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Telefónica Invests in Crypto Exchange, Launches Payments Pilot

Telefónica continues its move into crypto which already includes an NFT market and token, plus partnerships with Qualcomm, Unity, and Niantic.

2 min read
Telefónica is Spain's largest telecom firm. Image: Shutterstock.

Spain’s largest telecom company Telefónica has led a key investment round in the country's largest crypto exchange Bit2Me.

Local reports indicate that the investment was for $29 million. Bit2Me declined disclosing the details of the deal. 

"At Bit2Me we are always aiming to bring cryptocurrencies closer to everyone, and through the Telefónica integration we have the opportunity to reach many more people," a Bit2Me representative told Decrypt via email. "I think it’s quite a natural union, taking into account that Telefónica is one of the largest telecommunication companies in the world and Bit2Me is the most complete crypto platform with headquarters in Europe."

Telefónica will also start piloting crypto payments on its online marketplace, with Bit2Me reportedly leading the development of the technology. 

Payments will be limited to purchases like televisions and mobile phones up to $500. The company said it has no plans to allow customers to pay for their phone bills in crypto, for now.

Crypto adoption in Spain isn’t as widespread as in countries like the United States.

A report from the Pew Research Center found that 16% of Americans have bought or used cryptocurrencies. In Spain, that figure sits at 7%, according to a study released last month from its securities market regulator.

Still, that figure has been enough to earn attention from leading regulators and top firms.

Crypto in Spain

The country’s government has been cautiously eyeing crypto, with its watchdog issuing specific rules around crypto advertising in January, the first in Europe.

These require influencers and sponsors to notify authorities before running ads and include warnings about crypto’s risks. 

Telefónica is no stranger to embracing Web3 technologies either, having already set up its own NFT marketplace on the Polygon blockchain. It also operates accelerator Wayra, which backed Gamium, a Spanish startup developing a decentralized social metaverse. 

According to La Información, the company is also collaborating with Qualcomm, Unity, and Niantic to develop technologies for the metaverse, from XR to the creation of 3D content to leveraging 5G, while ensuring that its network will be able to handle the bandwidth required by the next iteration of the internet.

Editor's note: This article was updated on September 30, 2022 at 12 pm ET to include confirmation and comments from Bit2Me.

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