Residents of Colombia will soon be able to buy cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin directly from their bank accounts.
It’s part of Colombia’s new regulatory sandbox, which is slowly beginning to bear fruit as more banking institutions begin to offer cryptocurrency services to their clients through arrangements with leading crypto firms.
Starting December 14, Colombians will be able to buy cryptocurrencies through Bancolombia—the country's largest bank—thanks to a deal that the bank has struck with the Winklevoss-owned crypto exchange Gemini.
A limited number of Bancolombia clients will be able to purchase Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, or Bitcoin Cash from their accounts as part of a one-year pilot program. The program will be overseen by the Financial Superintendence of Colombia, the country’s financial regulator.
Bancolombia will handle client’s fiat funds, while Gemini will provide the infrastructure for the exchange and custody of cryptocurrencies, whether for withdrawals, deposits, or hodling of assets.
"The partnership also serves as an important step toward the strategic expansion of Gemini's presence in Latin America." said Cynthia Del Pozo, who leads principal, strategy and corporate development at Gemini, in a press release. "We look forward to working closely with the Colombian crypto ecosystem and to supporting crypto products that empower Colombians to take control of their financial lives.”
Colombia's crypto progress
Colombia’s regulatory sandbox is unique among Latin American countries, but it has been progressing slowly since its start in April. As Decrypt reported last month, only one of the nine approved projects has moved beyond the planning phase: the MOVii-Bitpoint initiative, which integrates both platforms, so users can buy crypto on Bitpoint via their MOVii fiat accounts.
The joint Bancolombia and Gemini project would be the second of nine to move forward, and the first to involve a top cryptocurrency exchange. Though Binance, Bitso and other exchanges have their names attached to other projects, no progress has yet been made beyond the initial design phase.
Meanwhile, the MOVii and Bitpoint initiative has already surpassed 2,000 active users and reported close to $500 million in funds moved through cryptocurrencies since November. The CEO of MOVii, Hernando Rubio, previously said that the startup is working on an upcoming integration with the Latin American cryptocurrency exchange Ripio to increase its customer base as well as the services offered.